Electric cars: So… How far can I go?

“How far can I go?” is a common question we get when we blog about electric vehicles (EVs). While we like to focus on the environmental benefits, this is a pretty key concern – so here’s information that some of our readers are looking for.
Electric vehicles really range (sorry) in how far the can go on a single charge. Some plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) will only go 20 km in all-electric mode (but they have a back up gasoline tank that kicks in after the charge is gone). For pure electric cars (BEVs), we’ve heard they usually range from 100 km upwards per charge.
In both PHEVs and BEVs, your range is affected by how aggressively you drive and how many “accessories” you use. Drive fast and blast the heat? You’ll see a reduction in range.

So, range is important. But to be fair, conventional cars have limited range too. They just have the advantage of an abundance of gas stations. Because of how common gas stations are, we’ve adjusted to gas range-anxiety. We’ll adjust to electric range – anxiety too – once we have obvious public charging options that suit our needs.
For most people, on a daily basis, we don’t need to have range anxiety and we don’t need public charging. 80 percent of us drive less than 60 km a day, which means that charging every night (or every few nights), will get us to work and back with a few errands in between. But, for the longer distances – to visit friends or family, or for work – we need some sort of charging infrastructure to get us beyond 100 km.
And while you might think this option is a long way off, we’re here to show you how much development is happening – with three big announcements just yesterday!

BC Ministry of the Environment announces the location of the City of Vancouver’s first quick charge station – at the Science World at TELUS World of Science. (c) Anna Horvath
BC fast-charging network
Just last week, the government of BC unveiled the locations for the first 12 fast-charging stations across the province (see where they’ll go). These stations will allow EV owners and users to charge 80 percent of their battery in 20 minutes – while grabbing a coffee perhaps – and then get back on the road for the rest of their trip. Eventually, EV owners in BC will be able to smoothly travel (using quick chargers) from Whistler to Portland and beyond!
Quebec’s public charging network
Last week Hydro-Quebec gave an update on the successes of Electric Circuit – a network of 150 charging stations across the province. With more level 2 charging stations on the horizon for 2013, Electric Circuit is developing the charging infrastructure to help shoppers and diners top up their range while running errands. Want access? Get the membership card.
The Longest Green Highway
Another big development is Sun Country Highway’s Greenest Highway project. Working with local businesses, Sun Country Highway has installed over 200 level 2 charging stations across the country and just last month Kent Rathwell made the drive from coast to coast across Canada in a pure electric car. It is Sun Country’s goal that 90 percent of the Canadian population will be able to access public EV chargers by the end of 2013. Find a Sun Country charging station near you (tip: most will charge your car for free for now).

Use CAA’s new map to find a charger near you!
Finding a Charging Station
So chargers are in the ground, and even more are to come. And now there is a one stop-shop for finding all the vehicle chargers across the country! Just last week CAA (in partnership with Plug’n Drive and Electric Mobility Canada) launched an Electric Vehicle Charging Station Locator. It’s fun to play around with and see how you could plan distance trips with an EV. What’s more, it’s a great way to track how fast development continues!