VANCOUVER, BC, Micheal Stanyer, owner of electric vehicle…….(Photo credit: Francis Georgian / Postmedia) .June 13 2019. , Vancouver, June 13 2019. Reporter: , ( Francis Georgian / PNG staff photo) ( Prov / Sun News ) 00057776A [PNG Merlin Archive]
Francis Georgian / PNG
Michael Stanyer has driven a battery-powered vehicle from his Vancouver home to Tofino and to the Kootenays and he has no fear of being stranded without a charging station.“It’s something you have to plan for,” he said. “It’s totally doable.”He said there are 1,000 charging stations in the province and “it’s rare that you would be more than 100 kilometres away from a charging station.”His 2017 Volkswagen E Golf can go about 200 km on a single charge in city driving, though that changes if he drives into higher elevations, for instance.Stanyer, a program coordinator for Plug In B.C., may be bolder than most at venturing beyond their commute in an EV.A B.C. Hydro survey found “range anxiety” is keeping almost 70 per cent of drivers from buying an electric vehicle, according to an online survey done for the energy agency by Angus Reid and released today.But B.C. Hydro said they needn’t worry, as the majority of road trips taken by people in B.C. are within the range that most newer vehicles can travel on a single charge.“Most trips are 300 km one way, so it’s well within the range of a single charge,” said B.C. Hydro spokeswoman Tanya Fish.The survey found respondents were concerned about the availability of charging stations and also worried that having to stop to recharge the battery would significantly add to the length of a trip.Fish said there are about 170 fast-charging stations, 58 belonging to B.C. Hydro, that can top up a battery to within 80 per cent capacity within 30 minutes.There is access to the fast-charging stations along the most-travelled highways in the province, including between Vancouver and Kelowna, Abbotsford and Whistler, Victoria and Tofino, and Revelstoke and Cranbrook, she said.And 96 per cent of BC Hydro’s fast-charging stations are within 300 metres of a major road or highway and 80 per cent are within 50 metres of other services, such as food, washrooms or other shopping, she said.And there are an additional 1,000 “level 2” public charging stations in the province, which take about four to six hours to restore a battery, said Fish.EV sales doubled in B.C. the first three months of this year, compared to the first quarter in 2018, and they make up 15 per cent of new car sales. That’s double the national average. There are about 20,000 EVs in BC.The average EV has a range of about 250 km and that is expected to increase to 440 km by 2022. The majority of out-of-town trips B.C. drivers take are under 300 km, B.C. Hydro said.For instance, a 2019 Nissan Leaf can go 363 km, a 2019 Chevy Bolt can go 383 km, a 2020 Kia Soul EV can go about 400 km, a 2019 Hyundai Kona can 415 km and a 2019 Tesla Model S hits 507 km.That means a driver could travel on a single charge from Vancouver to Whistler (121 km), Kelowna (389 km), Kamloops (354 km), Merritt (271 km), Keremeos (350 km) or Ucluelet (200 km), depending on the vehicle, said B.C. Hydro.It said the trips would save money compared with driving the same distance in a gas-powered vehicle because some charging stations are free and others cost up to 35 cents per kilowatt hour.If a battery loses its charge, the driver would have to be towed to the nearest charging station.“BCAA currently gets very few calls from EV drivers for drained batteries,” said BCAA automotive expert Josh Smythe. “Our road assist technicians will investigate and run some checks to try and confirm that the issue is simply a drained battery and not something mechanical,” he said by email.“We’re always happy to tow the vehicle to the nearest charging station — or home — or wherever our member prefers to go,” he said.B.C. Hydro recommends planning ahead by mapping out a route according to locations of charging stations using a mobile app, know when to charge (optimal is when its within 75 per cent of its range), avoid unnecessary acceleration as it drains the battery faster and keeping the air conditioner on low.Drivers also have to factor in any changes in elevation as inclines use more power than flat roads.B.C. Hydro plans to add another 23 fast-charging electric vehicle charging stations this year to its network of 58.The province estimates consumers can choose from among 44 clean energy vehicles in B.C. priced at $33,000 to $50,000, before incentives. With incentives, the lowest EV starts at about $29,000.