Buying an electric vehicle

Electric vehicles reduce greenhouse gas emissions and can significantly reduce your fuel costs. There are two types of electric vehicles on the market – plug-in hybrid electric and battery-electric – and each has its benefits. On this page, we describe them and give you information you need to decide which is best for you.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs)

PHEVs are hybrids that have high-capacity batteries that can be recharged by plugging them in. PHEVs do not have to be plugged in, but will be more fuel-efficient and have a longer driving range if they are.

Two types of PHEVs

In series PHEVs, an internal combustion engine generates electricity only. An electric motor drives the vehicle. Series PHEVs can run in electric-only mode until the battery needs to be recharged. The engine will then generate the electricity needed to power the electric motor. When operating in electric-only mode, series PHEVs produce no tailpipe emissions.

In blended PHEVs, an internal combustion engine and an electric motor are connected to the wheels, and both drive the vehicle under most conditions. The PHEV may operate in electric-only mode at lower speeds.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles – Video

Learn more about how plug-in hybrid electric vehicles work and the energy-efficiency benefits they bring.

Transcript

Narrator:

Let’s talk about plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. These vehicles are relatively new to the roads of Canada, and they are a unique approach by automakers to respond to more stringent greenhouse gas regulations.

PHEVs, as they’re commonly known, also respond to consumer demands for cleaner, quieter technology when they’re behind the wheel.

Quite simply, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle is essentially a regular hybrid vehicle with a larger battery pack that can be charged by plugging into the grid.

The advantage of the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle is that it offers an extended all-electric range capability.

Let’s get under the hood.

There are three main components. First, an internal combustion engine; one or more zero-emission electric motors; and a battery or series of batteries (there are a number of different types and configurations) which store and send out electricity.

And a transmission that transfers the motors’ power to the wheels.

While you are driving, a series of computers are constantly monitoring the state of charge of the vehicle’s batteries.

A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle is designed so that your primary power is electric, so the electric propulsion system is “first in line”. But when the batteries can no longer provide adequate power, the internal combustion engine is commanded to turn on and “take over”.

For some plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, the internal combustion engine can complement the electric motor when more power is needed.

The plug-in hybrid electric vehicle also has a charging coupling – a place you plug into when you are charging the vehicle. 

That’s because the batteries in plug-in hybrid electric vehicles need to be charged in order to ensure that you get the benefit of up to 70 km of electric-only range.

If your battery is depleted, you don’t have to worry about being stranded since PHEVs can operate without being plugged-in.

Most of the time, that means charging from the electrical power grid.

People who own or lease plug-in hybrid electric vehicles can charge them up at home. And as these types of vehicles become more popular, public and commercial charging stations will begin to appear that could “top up” these vehicles while you run your errands.

It’s important to note that actual driving range on electric power depends on speed driven, driving style, cargo, topography, climate control usage, and weather.

But the range of the vehicle is extended since you can also operate using the internal combustion engine.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles offer the best of a number of worlds.

When running on electric-only power they are quiet, and, of course, have lower fuel costs.

Their smaller and efficient internal combustion engine also helps to minimize fuel use.

And plug-in hybrid electric vehicles use low-drag aerodynamic shapes, have reduced weight, use highly advanced technology like regenerative braking which helps to charge the batteries.

So if you are looking to cut your energy costs and reduce the amount of greenhouse gas you’re producing, consider a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.

 

Battery-electric vehicles (BEVs)

BEVs are powered by motors that draw electricity from on-board storage batteries. You plug in your BEV to recharge it.

BEVs don't produce emissions from the tailpipe. This means they can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other pollutants that form smog. If the source of the vehicle’s electricity is clean (such as solar or hydro-electric power) the vehicle will have no overall GHG emissions.

Battery-electric vehicles – Video

Learn more about how battery-electric vehicles work and the energy-efficiency benefits they bring.

Transcript

Narrator:

Let’s talk about battery-electric vehicles. 

These vehicles are relatively new to the roads of Canada, and they are becoming more and more popular as automakers respond to more stringent greenhouse gas regulations. And as people ask for cleaner, quieter technology when they’re behind the wheel.

Quite simply, a battery-electric vehicle uses electricity – and only electricity - to make the vehicle go. 

Let’s get under the hood.

There are three main components: a zero-emission electric motor or motors; a battery or series of batteries (there are a number of different types and configurations); and a non-conventional transmission that transfers the motor’s power to the wheels.

In fact, some battery-electric vehicles place their motors right at the wheel hubs!

Electric drives are substantially more efficient than combustion engines and drivetrains.

It’s a lot easier to convert electricity to mechanical energy. Internal combustion engines are relatively inefficient since they lose available energy to heat loss in the cooling system and in the exhaust.

Electric motors provide almost all their available torque right from the instant you put your foot on the accelerator, so there is little need for the series of “steps” that most transmissions provide to get the vehicle up to speed. As a consequence, transmissions are much simpler, too.

While you are driving, you are using battery power, and depleting its supply.

Instrumentation on your dashboard will give you an accurate reading on how much reserve power you have, and let you know when it is time for a charge.

In addition, the battery-electric vehicle has a charging coupling – a place you plug into when you are charging the vehicle.

Some vehicles even come with a cable that allows you to plug the car into different kinds of charging stations.

The batteries in battery-electric vehicles need to be charged regularly – most of the time, that means plugging the vehicle in either at home, or at work. And as these types of vehicles become more popular, public and commercial charging stations will begin to appear that can “top up” these vehicles.

Annual fuel costs for battery-electric vehicles available in Canada will be about one fifth as much as a conventional vehicle, based on 20,000 kilometres a year.

Battery-electric vehicles offer about 100 kilometres of driving range before needing to be recharged. But actual range depends on speed driven, driving style, cargo, topography, climate control usage, and weather.

Battery-electric vehicles are quiet, use low-drag aerodynamic shapes, have reduced weight, use highly advanced technology, and they are a strong choice for people who want to dramatically improve fuel efficiency, reduce fuel costs, and reduce emissions.

And whenever you brake or coast, power gained by the regenerative braking process helps to charge the batteries.

So if you are looking to cut your energy costs and reduce the amount of greenhouse gas you’re producing, consider a battery-electric vehicle.

 

Electric vehicles are energy and cost efficient

Electric-drive motors are much more efficient than combustion engines and drivetrains. The efficiency of energy conversion from on-board storage to turning the wheels is nearly five times greater for electricity than gasoline, at approximately 76% and 16%, respectively.

Electric vehicles also increase a vehicle’s efficiency by using regenerative braking technology to recover energy that would otherwise have been lost.

PHEVs and BEVs can be recharged from a charging station that uses standard 240-volt electrical power (the kind used for stoves and clothes dryers in most homes). Most can be recharged from a 110-volt service, although charging time will be significantly longer.

The cost of electricity per kilometre is much lower than that of gasoline: a BEV costs about 2 to 3 ¢/km (at 13 ¢/kWh), compared to a typical 4-cylinder gasoline vehicle at 7 to 8 ¢/km (at $1.00/L).

Compare electric vehicles by model year

2019 model year electric vehicles
2018 model year electric vehicles
2017 model year electric vehicles
2016 model year electric vehicles
2015 model year electric vehicles
2014 model year electric vehicles
2013 model year electric vehicles
2012 model year electric vehicles