Leaving gas behind, my experience.

My name is Dann Kingsley, I’m a car nut, though to be honest I know we come in various shapes and colours.

I was warned by my gearhead friends “Oh we’ll be coming to get you when you run out of charge.”; “You won’t have the range to go anywhere.” And of course “Battery cars don’t work in the cold, not up here in the north.” None of that happened.

I’m not a traditional muscle car nut, though I’m hardly Jerry Seinfeld out collecting the weird and wacky in Autoland. I’ve always loved the engineering marvels of modern cars, German diesels, V10 muscle monsters and the super exotic. A little of everything.

When Tesla first hit the scene in the early 2010s it wasn’t hard to see they were not going to be doing things the traditional way. An electric car? How novel. How impractical we all thought. The equivalent to sexy Smart car. Let’s save the planet in 100 km increments.

But then something happened, they grew and started building not only niche rich guy status cars, but starting in 2017 a real practical everyman’s vehicle. Having plunked my $1000 down on Announcement Night of the new Model 3 in March of 2016 I was ready to try this experiment out. After all, we are a two car family like most, if electric didn’t meet all our needs we’d use it where we could, focus on gasoline for longer trips.

I took delivery in May 2018 and was immediately floored at how different this vehicle was. NO keys per se, paired to your phone, approach, enter, go. No start, no stop buttons. Just Drive. Lane aware intelligent traffic aware cruise control, intelligent GPS. The list could go on and on, but this is about electric cars, not specifically this model. To date, the car has received over 100 software updates adding everything from auto-dimming headlamps, to native Spotify and Netflix apps (video disabled when vehicle in motion) and scheduled departure (car self preps based on your schedule).

I was warned by my gearhead friends “Oh we’ll be coming to get you when you run out of charge.”; “You won’t have the range to go anywhere.” And of course “Battery cars don’t work in the cold, not up here in the north.” None of that happened.

Let’s talk about that.

Most electric cars todays have a minimum 300 km range, as a daily runabout that’s more than ample. My Tesla has a 525 km range. Where can’t I go? To be honest until Tesla unlocked their 38 station Trans-Canada line in 2019, there were limits. Toronto was always easy with chargers in Parry Sound, 2 separate sets in Barrie and Vaughn Mills. But east and west were a little trickier.

The only limited destination now is north, but it won’t be long. Charging involves plugging it in, and poof up to 1600 kms / hour charging speeds. Filling takes a little longer as charging speeds slow as the battery fills to prevent overheating, but adding 300 kms can be done in as little as 10 to 12 mins. Not quite gas fast, but not way different.

When in Sudbury, I charge at home. The car has a programable onboard charger that’s set to top up the battery every night as I sleep. Everyday I start with a full ‘tank’. I’ve never even come close to running out of juice over 65,000 kms of traveling locally and around the province.

What about the cold? The massive upside is electric cars have electric heaters, they warm up FAST! No idling out in the driveway for 10 minutes and if you choose to pre-warm in your garage, no toxic fumes, swipe a button on the app and in 2 minutes warm car charged and ready for adventures.

My 2018 does lose about 30% range in the deep cold, the effect is slight at -10, noticeable at -30/40C. 2021 models now have a heat pump which greatly reduce this effect, in essence bringing them closer in line with gasoline cars. With all the weight in a battery slab between the axles, this is the most sure-footed vehicle I’ve ever driven no matter the weather.

So what about the cost of all this automotive wizardry? The Hyundai Ioniq & Kona run in the mid to low $40s and feature 275 and 415 kms range respectively. The Chevy Bolt matches the latter’s range and price of $45k. Looking for something a little sportier? The Tesla 3 Standard Range+ will take you similar distance for $53k. Range and performance go up from there, as does cost. Kia, VW and many others offers electric models with almost every car company transitioning to battery tech, it really is superior.

I opted for the $65k RWD Long Range model, after rebates cost $51k, though to be honest the rebates were cancelled by Premier Ford when he took office.

Where does that leave me? Factoring electricity costs I’m saving about $3000 a year driving 24,000 kms a year. There are no oil changes ($300 a year) and because of the beauty of regenerative braking you can learn to drive your car with basically one foot, push down to go, release to slow. The brakes on these cars last 2 to 3 times longer than traditional ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) vehicles.

My plan remains to keep the car 10 years, the battery is expected to last up to 700,000 kms with daily use, far outlasting most gas engines. Electric cars have about 1/10th the moving parts as their ICE counterparts and so are setup to last much longer with much less maintenance. If all goes well this experiment will be equivalent to buying a $20,000 car, that drives itself, requires no maintenance, never polluted the air and drives like a dream.

Will they get better? Yes. Are they more than good enough for primetime today? Absolutely. Our lease runs out on our GAS-SUV in 18 months, and we will be adding another battery vehicle to our family fleet.

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