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Canada: The future of driving is electric

Environment concerns, rising fuel prices will spur sales

Yesterday, the British Columbia Automobile Association launched a new initiative that it hopes will help demystify and educate its members about the electric vehicle (EV). Although EV sales are currently a small fraction of the total car market, research conducted by the Canadian Automobile Association indicates that 42 per cent of its members, across Canada, would consider an EV for their next vehicle.

The electrification of the modern car started with hybrid cars, such as the highly successful Toyota Prius, about 12 years ago. Many hybrids can now be operated in a full-electric driving mode for a few kilometres. There’s also a whole new generation of hybrids arriving that plug-in to the main electric grid and these can allow the vehicle to be driven in an electric drive mode for up to 25 kilometres.

And then there’s the pure electric vehicle (EV) that relies completely on a large battery pack to store and supply electrical energy.

If an EV can fit into your transportation lifestyle there’s both a substantial payback in terms of running costs and you’re also helping to fight global warming.

Every litre of gasoline that goes into an engine produces about 2.3 kg of carbon dioxide (or CO2 – a greenhouse gas) during the combustion process and it all goes out the tailpipe.

A typical Canadian passenger car will burn about 2,000 litres of gasoline every year, which equates to about 4,600 kg of CO2 pumped into the atmosphere.

The jump to a pure electric vehicle is a big leap for most car buyers. A new section to the BCAA website ( is intended to be both a resource for current EV owners and provide information for prospective EV owners that can help them decide if an EV is a good choice for their particular driving needs.

BCAA has also added electric vehicles to its business. One goes into its roadside assistance fleet and will be used to provide service in the Metro Vancouver area. The other EV will be used as part of an internal share program that will allow BCAA staff to collect driving data and user feedback on EV issues. Four charging stations have also been installed at the BCAA head office building in Burnaby and two are available (free of charge) to BCAA members, visitors or service centre customers.

We’re already starting to see more EVs on the road and CAA estimates that plug-in electric vehicles will account for about four per cent of all vehicles on B.C. roads, by the year 2020. The newest addition to the EV ranks is the Ford Focus Electric, which is the first all-electric passenger car ever produced by Ford.

According to Ford, the Focus Electric can fully recharge its batteries in just three to four hours, when plugged into a level II charging station. This type of charging station is available for home installation and requires 240-volt service, which is the same voltage as the clothes dryer outlet in most homes.

An on-board charger in the Focus Electric converts AC power from the grid to DC power in order to charge its liquid-cooled and heated battery pack. While plugged in, the Focus Electric can use electricity from the grid to heat or cool both the cabin and its battery pack. Owners can also program the car to be ready fully charged, heated or cooled at a certain time in the morning, ready for a commute to a workplace. It can also be programmed remotely by using a MyFord Mobile app on a smart mobile phone.



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