'Never been easier': Tech expert dispels Canada's electric vehicle myths

Hundreds of new chargers are slated to be installed across Canada and more Canadians are considering EVs than ever before. But why is the adoption rate still so low?

Canadians are more likely than ever before to go to electric vehicle dealerships when buying their next vehicle | Photo: Greg Pease/Stone/Getty Images

Canadians are increasingly likely to consider an electric vehicle (EV) as their next vehicle purchase.

A recent survey by KPMG found 71 per cent of Canadians would consider an EV as their next vehicle purchase and nearly half are more likely to purchase an EV now than a year ago.

But while interest appears piqued, only four per cent of Canadians currently own an EV, according to KPMG.

This disconnect, for some Canadians, lies in a continued lack of education, technology expert Marc Saltzman says. Saltzman spoke to Glacier Media to debunk three of the most common myths he says are discouraging Canadians from going electric.

Myth #1: Range anxiety is still a concern

The average range for an EV today is about 320 kilometres, Saltzman says, which for most Canadians is more than enough.

“For the overwhelming majority of Canadians who commute to work, take their kids to school, or do errands like running to the mall or buying groceries at a supermarket that is going to be enough for several days worth on a single charge,” he said.

While he admits some drivers will need a longer range, he says EV technology is rapidly evolving to allow for longer trips between charges.

As an example, Saltzman mentioned Chevrolet's Silverado, set to be released in fall 2023, that’s promising over 640 km on a single full charge. This will be nearly double the average EV range today.

This type of advancement appears necessary because according to KPMG, 79 per cent of Canadians will only consider buying an EV if it can run for a minimum of 400 kilometres on a full charge.

But with these advancements in range floating on the horizon, Saltzman says this is a good indicator that for the majority of Canadians, range anxiety shouldn’t be an issue.

“You can see already [the range has] been doubling,” Saltzman said. “The range anxiety thing, it's a thing of the past.”

Myth #2: There’s nowhere to charge

For most EV owners, Saltzman says charging at home is an easy fix to concerns about where to charge. 

If at-home charging is an option, most EVs even come with the tools a homeowner may need to set this up. Ford includes a mobile charging cord with all EV purchases, and Chevrolet offers at-home charger installation and a charging cord with some purchases. 

Tesla, on the other hand, recently removed the inclusion of its Level 1 charger from the purchase due to low usage stats, according to a tweet by founder Elon Musk. To compensate, the company has lowered the price of the charge cord.

Whichever charging option a homeowner chooses, for 74 per cent of Canadians this at-home charging will be enough for their daily travels, KPMG reports. 

However, for many Canadians without access to a garage or a plug-in in a parkade, finding a spot to juice up their EV gets a little more complicated.

“It gets a bit more tricky if you're in a condo or an apartment,” Saltzman said.

Condo-dwellers need to get more creative, he says, by either reserving spots to charge at their building, charging at the office or parking at a public charger while at work.

“It just takes a little bit of forethought,” Saltzman said.

And apartment owners aren’t the only ones who may have to plan their trips around charging stations. EV tourists are another sub-group that are growing just as rapidly as Canada’s cross-country charging network.

Currently, Transport Canada states that there are close to 7,000 charging station locations across the country, with multiple plug-ins at each one. 

In the coming months and years, this number will continue to grow, as the federal government announced on Aug. 9 that it will be installing another 500 chargers. These will add to its overall goal of adding 50,000 chargers to the Canadian network.

“The infrastructure is maturing,” Saltzman said. “It's never been easier to plan a road trip with an EV. You just have to build in a half an hour to charge it.”

Plus, this time spent “juicing up your vehicle” is the perfect opportunity to explore, Saltzman adds, or grab a coffee nearby.

Myth #3: Canada’s climate is bad for EVs

Canada’s often bitterly cold climate worries 64 per cent of Canadians when considering the reliability of their EV, KPMG reports.

But just like how a gas-powered vehicle may take a moment longer to warm up in the cold, the limitations of an EV don’t extend much further than that, Saltzman says. 

“If it's super cold out, just like it will impact the performance of a gas vehicle, weather and terrain can impact performance or range on an EV,” he said. “But not to the point where it doesn't make sense for Canada.”

Overall, the cold’s impact on an EV makes a very minor difference in its performance, according to Saltzman. He added that there are tricks EV owners can use to maximize the efficiency of their vehicles in the cold.

“The trick is to heat the seat and the steering wheel,” he said. “Rather than trying to heat the whole cabin, at least right away.”

Remaining barriers

The cost of electricity, potential power outages and pre-planning before long trips are among the downsides that Saltzman said can still accompany EV ownership.

But for the most part, he’s confident the increasing competition from EV retailers will continue to drive down the price of EVs and expand EV infrastructure.

“Two or three years ago, there wasn't a lot of selection… but that's not the case anymore,” Saltzman says. “More selection breeds better competition, which often yields more aggressive pricing and incentives.”

All it takes is the commitment to taking that time for some extra forethought into charging and trip planning, Saltzman says.

“That's just a shift in behaviour, which I guess some people just have to recognize,” he said.

While Saltzman awaits the arrival of his first EV, a Cadillac LYRIQ, he estimates that it will only be another five years until Canada sees double-digit growth in EV adoption.

“I feel we're on the brink of an EV revolution,” he said. “The stars are aligning for those who are interested in EV.”