Are you considering the switch to an electric vehicle?
We recently moved to a rural community. After last winter, which included months where I couldn’t get my vehicle out of our mile-long, gravel and dirt, vertically-inclined rural road, it’s time for us to trade-in our sweet and efficient Honda Fit for a more powerful all-wheel drive vehicle. It’s more important than ever for us to have a fuel-efficient vehicle as our access to fuel is limited and expensive in our community.
In the years since we last shopped for a vehicle much has changed in the family-friendly and fuel-efficient vehicle market: including the addition of the hybrid SUV, the introduction of electric-vehicles, and the plug-in hybrid. Perhaps more amazing are the thousands of electric vehicle charging stations that have been developed across North America to serve these new vehicles.
Infrastructure: Urban and Rural
Most urban centres across the U.S. and Canada have electric charging stations where a vehicle can be recharged in as little as 20 to 30 minutes. Rural communities have fewer commercial charging options in general. Although, it is a great deal easier for many rural users to charge a car as many, like myself, have barns and outbuildings and loads of electrical outlets. Most electric cars get over 100 miles to a charge, which is plenty of power to get “there and back” for the vast majority of vehicle trips, according to Green Car Reports.
For longer trips, there are charging stations throughout most of North America, including B.C. where I live. There are convenient apps to help a user find nearby charging stations, including private stations, public stations, and fast-charge stations, at www.plugshare.com and chargehub.com. Even in my tiny little community, there are two charging stations. You can also find a charging station in B.C. and learn more about how the province has gotten ready for the coming electric vehicle revolution by visiting BC Hydro’s websiteBC Hydro’s website.
Will Rural Users Go Electric?
Rural users have been less quick in general to commit to going electric. Infrastructure challenges and fears are touted as the reason. Yet, infrastructure is not lacking in my rural community. Rather, it is the vehicle options that are lacking. My life is one where I need to be able to make it up and down that gravel, steep road; drive through snow and ice on roads that aren’t often cleared; seat a family that includes children, cousin, siblings and friends; and carry things from bikes to hay bales. When I look around, the vast majority of vehicles around me and in the other rural communities I visit are family-friendly all-wheel-drive (AWD) SUVs or four-wheel drive trucks. Fuel-efficient, small, AWD SUVs are the perfect car for me.
Yet, there are no affordable electric or plug-in hybrid options available either in Canada or the U.S. at this time. Indeed, there is only one hybrid AWD SUVs in the under $35,000 price range (that’s the RAV4 Hybrid) and only a few more in the luxury models.
Plug-in hybrids are vehicles that make use of both the electric plug-in motor but can also be run off of gasoline: in other words, they are hybrid vehicles that can be plugged directly into a power source rather than relying on braking
to charge the battery. Plug-in hybrids allow users to have their cake and eat it too (or at least use electric for the primary, shorter trips, and rely on a more traditional gasoline engine for longer trips). Learn more about plug-in hybrids at http://plugincars.com/cars
I am waiting for a plug-in hybrid AWD SUV or truck, and judging by the slugging rural market in rural communities, I am not alone. So, how long might we have to wait?
Not long. Things are changing fast with a lot more options coming available in the electric car market starting in 2018, according to GreenCarReports.com. Workhorse Group plan to release an electric pickup truck next year and Toyota did a limited release of an all-electric RAV4 in California this year and is expected to expand. There is even an all-electric (with built-in solar panels) AWD, off-road ready utility truck designed especially for rural communities in the developing world that has been developed by the Technical University of Munich which should hit markets in another few years for a price tag of around 11,000 USD.
Read more of a growing number of energy-efficient car reviews at thegreenmama.com/ratings
It’s a good thing better electric options are on the way, because incentives are here. In B.C. a buyer or leaser of a new electric or plug-in vehicle can save up to $5,000 off the pre-tax sticker price and up to $6,000 for a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle. And the non-profit Scrap-It, offers an additional $6,000 towards electric vehicle purchases, when a person trades-in their typical fuel-burning vehicle. The two offers can be used together. Learn more about these incentives at https://www.cevforbc.ca/clean-energy-vehicle-program
Manda Aufochs Gillespie is the author of the Green Mama series of books and publisher of the award-winning website www.thegreenmama.com.