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Next time you are stopped idling at a red light, take a look around you. You may notice more ‘green vehicles’ on the road. With so many automakers promising emission-free transportation by a certain date, it’s not too difficult to see that electric vehicles, or EV’s, are here to stay. Let’s plug in and charge up the debate surrounding purchasing an electric car by looking at the pros and cons of going green.

Electric vs. Hybrid cars

Simply put, “green” cars are more environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient. Electric cars are probably the greenest cars since they run on electricity instead of gasoline. Hybrid cars are the next best thing when it comes to being eco-friendly, using both an internal combustion engine and an electric battery. A hybrid vehicle uses the combustion engine to start the car and switches to battery power when cruising conditions are ideal.

Pros of owning an electric vehicle

Along with their environmental benefits, green vehicles have a lot of benefits to offer motorists:

1. Cost of the charge

A key advantage of green, eco cars is the reduction of fuel costs. With electricity and gas prices where they are today, EV’s are ¼ of the cost to drive than a gas car. Your typical EV driver saves $1,000 to $2,000 per year on fuel. What does that look like for you? On average, a typical EV battery will cost less than $530 per year, or about $1.45 per day, while a comparable gasoline-fueled car can cost about $2,500 per year to fuel. That’s up to eight times more money spent each day!

2. More convenient

An electric vehicle is easy to recharge, and the best part is you will no longer need to run to the gas station to recharge your car before hitting the road! Even a normal household socket can be used for charging an electric car (check out our article on how to charge your vehicle at home!) Installation of home charging stations can add to the convenience of powering up. In addition, some SMART chargers give you access to a variety of functions, like allowing you to see your charging data, remote start charging through an app on your smart phone and more!

3. Lower maintenance costs

Electric motors have one moving part and do not require oil changes, coolant flushes, mufflers or exhaust systems, saving you hundreds of dollars per year on maintenance. Compared to gas-powered cars, EVs are more efficient in urban environments. EV engines are better at converting energy to movement, especially from a standing start. Regenerative braking uses the engine to slow the car, as well as charge the battery. A battery replacement may be expensive, but warranties tend to run five to eight years. Because of regenerative braking (where the motor slows to reclaim energy), brakes can last up to 300,000 kilometres.

4. Insurance discounts

Electric cars produce low or no emissions on the road if charged from a renewable source. Pollutants created by burning fuel, on the other hand, contribute to air pollution and climate change. Most of Canada’s electricity comes from hydro and nuclear, which are both low-emitting sources of energy. The average Canadian driver can reduce their car’s greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 90%.

5. Distance covered by charge

New, fully-electric cars can typically travel at least 200 kilometres on a single charge. Some plug-in hybrid electric cars can travel 40-80 kilometres on an electric charge, with an additional 500-900 kilometres of gas range. So, if you choose an all-electric vehicle (AEV) or a hybrid vehicle, you won’t have to worry about making it home during the daily commute.

* Important note: EV’s do not run out of charge unexpectedly. You will receive a warning on your dashboard display indicating your level of charge, much like gas-powered vehicles do. On road trips, there are numerous public charging stations called DC-Quick chargers along highways and major roadways to fully charge your battery from empty to full in 30-45 minutes.

6. Safe to drive

Electric cars undergo the same fitness and testing procedure tests as other fuel-powered cars. Electric cars have a lower center of gravity, which makes them much more stable on the road in case of a collision. In the event that an accident does occur, the airbags will open up and the electricity supply will be cut from the battery. This can prevent you and other passengers in the car from serious injuries., as well as being less likely to explode in the absence of any combustible fuel or gas.

7. Reduced noise pollution

Electric cars put a curb on noise pollution as they are much quieter. Electric motors are capable of providing a smooth drive with higher acceleration over longer distances.

8. Great commuter cars

Most Canadians drive 50 km or less per day, which is especially true if you live and work in busy urban centres. This is well within the range of every single electric car on the market. EV’s also handle traffic jams more efficiently, as the electric motor doesn’t draw energy from the battery. Gas engines, however, are continually burning fuel and money the entire time.

Cons of owning an electric vehicle

1. Charging up

One of the biggest concerns when it comes to buying electric cars is what’s commonly referred to as “range anxiety” a.k.a. the fear of your electric battery dying and leaving you stranded. However, with the increase in available charging stations, home chargers and improvements in battery ranges, those anxieties are lessening. Fully recharging the battery pack with a Level One or Level Two charger can take up to eight hours, and even fast-charging stations take 30 minutes to charge to 80 percent capacity. Electric car drivers have to plan their trips more carefully, which for some, is an added hassle.

2. Initial investment

As EV’s are very new, you may be surprised when you take a look at the sticker price for one. Even the more affordable brands can be around $30,000 to $40,000. If you’re looking for a luxury option, you may be paying $80,000 or more. Though technology is advancing and the price to produce electric cars continues to drop, you still have to pay $10,000 to $50,000 more for an EV than for a gas-powered car.

3. Electricity isn’t free

Electric cars will have an effect on your energy bill if you’re not considering the options carefully. If you haven’t done your research into the electric car you want to purchase and the types of available home chargers, then your investment may be more costly.

4. Shorter driving range & speed

An EV is great for a downtown commute, but not so great for a quick trip up to cottage country. AEVs on average have a shorter range than gas-powered cars. Most models range between 90 and 190 kms per charge, and some luxury models reach ranges of 480 kms per charge. This may be an issue when looking at AEVs if you frequently take long trips because availability of charging stations can make AEVs less suitable for activities, like road trips.

5. Silence isn’t golden

Silence can be a bit of a disadvantage, as people like to hear a car’s noise if they are coming up from behind them. An electric car is silent and may lead to accidents in some cases.

6. Battery replacement

Depending on the type and usage of battery, batteries of almost all electric cars are required to be changed every 3-10 years. Not following the charging instructions for your battery may also diminish the lifecycle of the battery itself.

7. Government support

Ontario’s decision to axe electric-car rebates leaves British Columbia and Quebec as the only provinces where buyers benefit from added incentives to buy electric- and hydrogen-fueled vehicles. Sales on electric cars in Canada’s most populous province may be affected when you consider you still have to pay $10,000 to $50,000 more for an EV than for a gas-powered car.

EV purchase incentives

Home

According to the Ministry of Transportation, nearly 80% of EV charging sessions happen at home. Choosing to equip your home with an electric vehicle charging station is an essential step to maximizing the savings and benefits EV’s have to offer.

While currently there are no grants for residential charging stations in Toronto, the Home Energy Loan Program (HELP) assists residents that want to improve the energy efficiency of their homes to save money. Toronto homeowners can get a low-interest loan of up to $75,000 to cover the cost of home energy improvements. Home EV charging stations (Level Two) would qualify under this program.

Car

In Ontario, Plug n’ Drive offers two incentives for EV owners:

  • Up to $1000 is provided towards the purchase of a used fully-electric car by the Used EV Incentive Program. The car must be registered and insured in Ontario, be for personal-use and have a resale sticker price below $50,000 CDN before taxes.
  • Up to $1000 is offered towards the purchase of a used fully-electric or plug-in hybrid electric car when you scrap your old gas-powered car via the Scrappage Incentive Program. Recycle your old gas car and replace it with a used electric car to receive $1,000 off your purchase.

Tips to save on your EV and insurance

You may be wondering whether car insurance costs are less for an all-electric or hybrid car. Many automakers are transitioning to producing electric vehicles in greater numbers in the coming years, including General Motors, Honda, Audi and Ford.

Electric car and hybrid owners could enjoy discounts up to 10% on car insurance. Insurance providers appreciate these cars as low risk, since they tend to be safer and less likely to break down. But watch out for other factors that could raise insurance costs for electric cars, such as a higher purchase price or more expensive replacement parts. It is important to remember that your insurance company determines your individual premiums by examining a number of factors while calculating your rate. These factors include gender, driving background, location, car model and whether it’s a personal or business vehicle.

Tips to help you get lower premiums

  • Install an anti-theft device
  • Used electric vehicles cost less to purchase and are often more affordable to insure
  • Increase your policy deductible to lower your premiums
  • Some electric vehicles are more expensive to insure than others, which is why we recommend checking reviews online
  • Ensure your vehicle’s home charging station is installed by a professional electrician, as your home insurance rates will stay lower if any electrical work has been done by a professional
  • Bundling home and car insurance can help to lower your bottom line on premiums

The future of electric cars

By 2022, it’s estimated there will be more than 500 different electric vehicle models available worldwide. Electric vehicles are predicted to account for more than half of all passenger vehicles by 2040.

The number of customers looking to insure an EV is rising, which is having a ripple effect on auto carriers due to the increased cost to insure these vehicles. As of March 2021, there has been a 146% increase in the number of car insurance quotes for electric vehicles (over 700 quotes) compared to March 2020. This makes the future of electric car ownership more than likely for many Canadians.

Meanwhile, according to a February 2021 KPMG survey, seven in 10 Canadians who intend to buy a new car in the next five years are leaning toward purchasing an all-electric vehicle or hybrid. With consumers increasingly demanding vehicles with lower emissions, manufacturers are racing to produce EV’s that meet legislated emissions mandates and customers’ performance expectations

Choose to fit your needs

If you are considering an electric vehicle, be sure to look carefully at your lifestyle needs and crunch your numbers. Not quite ready to go all-electric? Hybrid cars offer the eco-friendly benefits of an electric car with the conveniences (like the abundance of gas stations) of a gas car. No matter which choice best suits your needs, one thing is certain: the future of electric cars is bright!

Certain insurance companies are offering discounts or special deals for eco-friendly vehicle drivers. Inquire about these discounts with your isure broker today!

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