A different relationship with the car | The press

The electric vehicle seems, at first glance, not suitable for all situations. But on closer inspection, we believe many drivers could benefit from this.

Posted on April 19

Eric LeFrançois

Eric LeFrançois
special collaboration

In revealing to the press the features of its first production electric vehicle, the bZ4X, Toyota’s management did not fail to point out that this vehicle was not for everyone. An accuracy that is still useful today in the face of the challenges that this type of vehicle sometimes presents mainly in terms of price, but also, for some, autonomy, recharging and winter performance.

The range of electric models is constantly improving, but often at the cost of a heavier battery and therefore longer to recharge. Hence the need for consumers to properly assess their needs. In this sense, according to the most recent study available (2016), Canadians traveled an average of 57 km per day. Also, according to data collected by Statistics Canada, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the percentage of teleworkers from 13% in 2019 to 39.1% in March 2020.

So the assumed range of all electric vehicles on the market is more than enough, unless that house is now farther away than it was before the workplace.

Regardless of the distance to get to work, having a charging station at home (and at work too?) greatly reduces the anxiety often felt by new converts.

Quebec drivers are privileged to obtain two subsidies for the purchase of an electric vehicle. These values ​​are subject to certain conditions (see next tab) and are not sufficient to fill the gap with a conventional (read gas) vehicle with similar characteristics. There is hope. According to a study carried out by Bloomberg, tariff parity could, however, be predicted until 2026.

a little planning

Leaving Montreal for the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia involves some preparation. We must take into account the (ideally fast) terminals available. There should also be a backup solution in case the equipment is busy or malfunctions.

To help with planning, drivers benefit from a variety of mobile apps (including the one offered by the vehicle manufacturer) to properly plan their rides.

Is it so different from the days when he had to plot his route on a road map?

As for winter performance, it’s a little more complicated. Heat pump and preheat device are solutions to keep occupants warm during the cold season, but these devices affect range in a very worrying way (up to 50%).

Finally, virtually every electric vehicle currently on the market offers a two-wheel drive configuration (drive, like Toyota’s bZ4X, also offered with four-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive).

If it’s a drive, the weight and its optimal distribution in an electric vehicle will not pose real traction problems on flat, open roads. However, this setup can be more complicated if you have to walk up a slope to access the chalet or sports station. The all-wheel drive option, despite its reduced range due to the presence of a second engine in the other undercarriage, remains preferable to face our climate.

beyond the price

In its latest budget, the Government of Quebec is downwardly revising subsidies given to new and used electrified vehicles (see table below). This change will take effect from 1er next July. Please note that owners of eligible vehicles delivered and registered by June 30th will benefit from bonuses paid prior to budget submission.

In turn, the federal government renewed its bonus of US$5,000, always on the condition that the price of the coveted vehicle does not exceed US$45,000.

These discounts are essentially intended to reduce the price difference between an electrified model and its thermal “equivalent”. Currently, they do not fill them. However, this gap narrows if user costs are taken into account. Maintenance costs associated with an electric vehicle are lower (about 30% overall) compared to a comparable sized gasoline vehicle. Electricity is also much cheaper than oil. In fact, to illustrate the difference, to drive 100 km, it costs up to six times less to drive electric.

In addition to these budgetary advantages, there are some perks. How to have access to reserved lanes, be exempt from tolls (highways 25 and 30), take free ferries and, finally, benefit from reserved spaces in some municipalities in Quebec.

from 1er July 2022, the government of Quebec will grant the following maximum amounts

  • $7,000 for a new 100% electric vehicle
  • $5,000, $2,500 or $300 for a new plug-in hybrid vehicle
  • $3,500 for a used all-electric vehicle

When the electric mixes genres

Sedan, utility and recently van all switch to fully electric. And the other categories? Volkswagen has announced that it will reinterpret the Combi (a minivan) from 2024, and Tesla has been promising the arrival of a roadster for some time. Polestar and Alfa Romeo also plan convertibles before the end of this decade.


PHOTO PROVIDED BY POLESTAR

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Considering the industrial costs of this shift to all-electric consumption and consumers’ appetite for utilities, the automotive sector is playing it safe. It naturally focuses its offer on the most sought after segments.

But the SUV that was once considered the easiest to “start” doesn’t live up to all its promises due to its higher air resistance (aerodynamic coefficient) and its substantial weight. This is even more important with those hundreds of pounds of batteries on board. That’s why we’re witnessing the deployment of a new generation of tall models on wheels, sometimes imposing but cut to cut through the air more easily.

burst of creativity

But electric mobility will have an even greater impact on shapes and will inevitably give rise to different segmentation.

The compact size of an electric motor as well as the battery-powered floor covering open up several possibilities. Designers and engineers are already varying the dimensions of the overhangs and the interior space. That’s comforting.

Paralyzed for years by the unique profile of the SUV, the automotive industry is on the verge of rediscovering its creativity. And your extravagances too!

Does the hybrid still have any under the hood?

Given the limited availability of electric vehicles, hybrid powertrains continue to be an interesting alternative solution to limit their ecological footprint. Not only does it reduce consumption, but it also represents a way to introduce customers who are still reluctant about electricity.


PHOTO PROVIDED BY TOYOTA

The plug-in hybrid technology had to ensure a long and smooth transition between the internal combustion engine and the electric one.

Combining two engines (one gasoline and one electric) and equipped with a rechargeable battery, these hybrids with wires behind the wheel generally cannot (there are rare exceptions) cover, at best, only fifty kilometers thanks to their electric motor alone. No real evolution on this side, and that’s been a few years now.

Additionally, some analysts are wondering whether the heyday of these models designed to ease the transition from all-thermal to all-electric isn’t going to be less than expected.

Perceived as a transitional technology, the plug-in hybrid engine cannot do everything. Once the battery is discharged, fuel consumption increases.

This is the crux of the matter: how these sophisticated hybrids are used. To reap the benefits of this technology, it must always be connected to a terminal.

and the hydrogen

Hydrogen-powered fuel cell technology remains in the clean car race, but far behind batteries. It offers electric mobility, but for now, its distribution network is embryonic and, at the pump, this gas costs almost as much as gasoline.

For those with a pioneer soul and the means to satisfy it, Toyota has just launched the second generation Mirai in the Quebec market.

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