Who are EV owners? The answer might surprise you…
Take a drive around Oshawa’s city streets and you’re bound to spot vehicles of all shapes and sizes, from two-door coupes to lifted pickup trucks to family-friendly minivans. But one increasingly common type of vehicle has started to stand out – the electric vehicle (EV).
With more than 1,000 EV owners across the city (and hundreds more coming and going from towns across Ontario!), it’s no longer rare to spot an EV cruising Oshawa’s roadways. Whether you spot an EV charging at the Oshawa Centre or your attention is captured by a sleek design and near silent operation, you’ve likely found yourself wondering ‘who are EV owners?’.
The answer? Most likely somebody just like you. Gone are the days when EVs were a radical shift from the landscape of traditional personal transportation adopted only by the most ardent and dedicated environmentalists (with deep pockets too!).
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We caught up with local, everyday EV owners to show you that EVs are a realistic and cost effective option for anyone, from any lifestyle.
Today’s guest: The Advocate
EV Owner Since: 2013
EV: Chevrolet Volt
What made you choose an EV?
Partly because I love technology, and partly because I’m a gearhead. I had a Pontiac G8 with the 6.0L V8 and while it was awesome for so many reasons, it was also $700 a month in fuel costs with my job driving around. The appeal of near instant torque in a chassis that has more storage space, excellent winter driving aspects, far lower maintenance, and an overall reduced cost of ownership brought me into the world of EVs. Surprisingly, I don’t miss ICE vehicles as much as I thought I would (although the Blaupunkt stereo in the G8 was pretty darn good).
Did you have to make any changes to your lifestyle or driving habits?
I installed a Level-2 charger in my garage, which despite being a century home, had 240v already out there thanks to the previous owner being a welder. Aside from that, plugging in at the end of the day became as commonplace as putting on a seatbelt in the morning. Waking up to a “full tank” was a bit of a switch for me! I did, however, start staying at hotels or shopping at malls that had charging stations set up, since it would make more sense for me to drive there, park, get a charge usually for free, as a way to get me to stay at that place longer.
What reaction do you normally get when you tell people you drive an EV?
The typical reactions are usually just questions… lots and lots of questions, myths to be debunked, and always questions about the winter time driving aspects. Canadians love talking about the weather, so I get it! In the past, when I first got an EV, they weren’t as commonplace or available from every manufacturer as they are today, so the reactions back then were almost of ridicule (“hope you have a long extension cord for when you run out!” Or “hope you enjoy your golf cart!”). There’s definitely been a change in the reactions as costs of living have gone up, gas prices have remained high, so now the reactions are more along the lines of “hey, that holds that much cargo? Is it fast? Where can I get one?”
What is your typical charging routine?
ABC – Always Be Charging. One of the benefits of the car I drive (and many other EVs) is that when it is plugged in, it charges up what is necessary, and also regulates all of the voltage of every cell. Thermal management also happens, so on very cold nights, some coolant can flow through the pack to keep the batteries nice and warm for the next day’s drive, rather than doing so when I start it up and have to sacrifice some range in order to heat up the pack. Plus, I’m a sucker for always having the full range available every time I get in, so I just plug it in whenever I park in my garage.
What is your opinion of the local public charging infrastructure?
It’s improving, it was stagnant for a long while, but I’ve attributed that to the Chicken or the Egg dilemma. Businesses and governments don’t want to pay to install lots of charging stations if there’s not enough cars that will use them, and people don’t want to buy the cars if there’s no where to charge. Lately, however, the amount of chargers I see locally and outside of the area has been growing very fast! That’s great! I hope to see the sudden influx of new charging stations be just the thing to convince someone that now they can finally look at their next vehicle possibly being an EV.
What is the longest trip that you have taken in your EV?
November of 2020, I had to host a conference in Thunder Bay, but being 2020, I drove instead of a flight that was unavailable at the time. My seats were warm, the steering wheel toasty, and the sights along the upper edges of Lake Superior I highly recommend people do at least once in their life.
Have you noticed any savings since you started driving an EV?
Absolutely! The electric bill did increase, but it was still just a fraction of the cost I was spending in gas per month. Literally a small fraction! To this day, I’d rather spend $40 more in electricity vs the close to $700 I was spending in gas costs. Then you factor in the lack of belts, alternator, starter, a traditional air conditioning unit, brake pad maintenance, the list goes on. Now, it’s not all rosy, there is still one significant change I’ve noticed… it turns out I like the electric torque being nearly instant. And I use it. A lot. Which in turn, means I have to look at tires a little bit more often than I used to, but that’s all on the driver!
Are there any challenges you have faced as an EV driver?
I’ve personally not faced any challenges, at the end of the day, a car is a car. The functions are all the same, “drive and reverse” is still “drive and reverse” on the gearshifter. There are a number of apps available that help locate nearby stations, and vehicles like the ones from GM that were aforementioned can even plan routes along your journey that include stops based on stations. It’s really no different than people knowing instantly where a nearby gas station is, because they’ve seen it before and they’ve used it. It’s part of their memory, now. With an EV, it’s new to you, so you have something new to find, but once you look around, you’ll start to find that in some areas there’s more charging stations than gas stations.
What are the most positive parts of your EV experience?
Near instant heat in the wintertime after starting the vehicle (known as preconditioning) from my watch. Coming out to a clear car that has had the snow melt off and it’s toasty inside? Priceless. The flat cargo space means my car can hold more than some other compact SUVs. The low centre of gravity from the battery pack being down low gives exceptional handling for the type of vehicle it is, with a good balance from front to rear. That really helps for winter driving, where weight balance and a system that can have a more finite control of stability systems comes to life. Beyond that, I just enjoy not thinking about it any more as an EV or something different, and I think that’s the point… it becomes just another car. Hopefully others will get to that point as well, where our transportation isn’t solely defined by the method of fueling it up, be it gasoline or electrons.
What advice would you give to someone considering purchasing an EV?
Do research on what your needs are, think about your daily commute, and so on. There are a number of great resources for people starting out on their research, like a great organization called Plug’n Drive. Just don’t get hung up too much on the specifics, because at the end of the day it just seems scary or different because it’s new. No one thinks about what goes on inside a gas engine, or how high the PSI is of a fuel injector for a direct injection system is, they just want to know if it’s got decent performance and fuel efficiency. EVs are no different in that regard. Lots of new tech if you’re interested, but also everything you’re already familiar with. It can be complex, but it’s not complicated, so take your time and definitely drive one!
Still not sure if an EV is right for you?
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