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Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles?

Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are powered solely by electricity. Plug-in Hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are powered by both gasoline and electricity. When a plug-in hybrid vehicle’s battery runs out of electricity, a gasoline engine/generator takes over to supply power. All electric vehicles also produce electricity through a process known as regenerative braking, which uses the vehicle’s electric motor to assist in slowing the vehicle and to recover some of the energy normally converted to heat by the brakes.

What kinds of hybrid electric vehicles are there?

There are two types of hybrid electric vehicles on the market: hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). Vehicles commonly known as Hybrids (HEVs) on the road today have two complementary drive systems and generate their own electricity to feed their batteries. They use a gasoline engine with a fuel tank and an electric motor and battery. Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) work very similar to Hybrids, except they have rechargeable battery packs that provide 20-80 km of all-electric driving before a gasoline engine or generator turns on for longer trips. Because PHEVs recharge by plugging in and provide dedicated all-electric driving distances, they are cheaper to operate than traditional gasoline/diesel Hybrids.

How do you recharge an electric vehicle?

There are three levels, or speeds, of charging.

Level 1 uses a regular household wall outlet to charge your car. All electric vehicles come with a cord-set that lets you charge using Level 1. This is the slowest speed of charging but is often enough for people who don’t drive very far or for drivers of plug-in hybrids with smaller battery packs.

Level 2 is the most common level of charging. Most electric vehicle drivers will install a Level 2 charging station at home. Level 2 charging stations have similar electrical requirements to a clothes dryer or stove and any licensed electrician can install them. Level 2 charging stations use 240 Volts and 30 Amps to effectively cut your charging time in half. Level 2 charging stations use a plug standard called J1772, which is the standard used by all electric vehicles sold in North America, which means any car can use any level 2 charging station across Canada and the United States. The only exception to this rule is Tesla, which has its own plug standard, but Tesla products come with a J1772 adapter.

Level 3 is the fastest level of charging that will charge your car from empty to 80% in 30-45 minutes. Level 3 charging stations are gas station can be found along highways and major travel routes across Canada to allow for inter-city travel or long commutes.

How far can I drive before having to recharge my electric vehicle?

While range is affected by road conditions, weather conditions and driving habits, most electric vehicle models have a rated range between 200-250 km on a full charge with many models capable of 400+ km of driving on a single charge. Drivers of EVs generally adopt habits like coasting to a stop to maximize regenerative braking and using seat and steering wheel heaters to reduce power consumption and stretch out the distance that can be travelled on a full charge.

How fast can an electric car go?

This largely depends on the vehicle’s make and model and the type of electric motor powering it, but electric motors deliver full torque right away, unlike internal combustion engines that need to gear-up. This gives most electric vehicle models better off-the-line acceleration than an equivalent gas car. Electric vehicles are more than capable of maintaining highway speeds upwards of 150 kilometres per hour with sportier models exceeding the 200+ km per hour mark.

Are electric vehicles safe?

Yes. Manufacturers of electric vehicles must meet the same federal safety requirements as any vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine. Electric vehicles come standard with all the same safety equipment you would expect in any modern automobile, including airbags, lane-keep assist warnings, cruise control and collision alerts.

How long do batteries last, and how much does it cost to replace them?

Electric vehicle batteries are covered by 8-year manufacture warranties, but the batteries will likely last much longer. At the end of your car’s life, the batteries still have value and a number of trials are being run that turn used electric vehicle batteries into energy storage units.

How well do electric vehicles do in winter?

The primary effect of cold weather on electric cars is a reduction in their range: one vehicle that was tested dropped from a range of 155 km on a warm day to just over 100 km average in the winter, and approximately 75 km in extreme cold weather (-25C).

Doesn’t the damage to the environment done by producing electricity outweigh the benefits of reducing gasoline and diesel consumption?

That depends on the source of electricity. In Canada, we have a very clean electricity grid and electric vehicle drivers in Canada experience significant greenhouse gas emissions reductions To find out how much an EV generates in greenhouse gases in your province, click here.

Why can’t I find an electric vehicle charging station near me on the map?

New charging stations are continually becoming available. We update the map data on a regular basis with new information about EV charging stations across the country. To let us know about a charging station, please email us.

What does my EV or Hybrid vehicle’s battery warranty look like?

CAA-Quebec has developed an exclusive analysis to demonstrate which manufacturers offer the best coverage. Click here to learn more about your coverage.


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