Facts and fiction

Electric vehicles don’t have enough range.

FACT AND FICTION

The vast majority of Quebecers commute fewer than 60 kilometres to work each day. Most electric vehicles today have a range that meets more than daily travel needs.

Range can vary considerably depending on driving habits. Motorists can adapt the way they drive to maximize battery efficiency and drive further without charging.

Electric vehicles are a lot more expensive than gasoline-powered vehicles.

FACT

Today’s electric vehicles are a few thousand dollars more expensive than some gasoline-powered vehicles in the same class, but they cost less to maintain and their energy costs are 8 to 10 times lower. In Québec, buyers can get a rebate of up to $8,000 on the purchase of an electric vehicle through the Drive Electric program, making electric vehicles more affordable.

Buyers make up the price difference within a few years through lower energy and maintenance costs. (It takes between three and six years depending on distance traveled each year.) Electric vehicles should become more affordable in coming years as the cost of battery production falls.

Electric vehicle batteries are less efficient in cold weather.

FACT

Cold weather can reduce battery range by 20% to 30% depending on the temperature. The colder it is, the more the range will decrease, especially given that the heating system alone uses up to a third of the battery range. Taking special precautions in very cold weather—like preheating the vehicle while it’s still connected to the charger and plugging it in as soon as it is stopped—will help maximize range.

Electric vehicles often start the day at full capacity and warm air is available to electric vehicles immediately. Plus, even in winter, the electric vehicles on the market have enough range to meet the daily commuting needs of most Quebecers, which average 45 kilometers.

Cold is not the only factor that affects battery range. Driving conditions (city or highway) and habits (rate of acceleration, speed, etc.) significantly influence electric vehicle energy performance. To get the most out of their electric vehicles, motorists should adapt their driving habits, whatever the season.

Electric vehicles have a bigger environmental impact than gas-powered vehicles.

MYTH AND REALITY

The analysis of the full lifecycle of an electric vehicle used in Québec shows that its environmental impacts are less than those of gas-powered vehicles, despite its higher carbon footprint during production. 

According to a 2016 study1 conducted by Centre international de référence sur le cycle de vie des produits, procédés et services This link will open in a new window. (CIRAIG), the environmental impacts of electric vehicles used in Québec, compared to conventional vehicles, is positive for four of the five criteria studied (29 % to 80 % lower impacts):

  • Human health
  • Quality of ecosystems
  • Climate change
  • Depletion of fossil resources

Only the criterion dealing with the depletion of mineral resources had a higher impact (+25 %) for electric vehicles than for gas-powered vehicles.

Because of Québec’s hydroelectricity, which is one of the cleanest energies in the world, an electric vehicle will emit 65 % less greenhouse gases over 150,000 km and 80 % less over 300,000 km than a conventional vehicle.

It should be noted that the source of electricity used to recharge an electric vehicle will have a significant effect on its environmental impact. As shown in the complement2 to the CIRAIG study, in countries where fossil fuels are used to generate electricity, this will necessarily influence the environmental performance of electric vehicles on their territory.

References

1 Rapport technique - Analyse du cycle de vie comparative des impacts environnementaux potentiels du véhicule électrique et du véhicule conventionnel dans un contexte d’utilisation québécois This link will open in a new window., 2016 April - Centre international de référence sur le cycle de vie des produits, procédés et services (CIRAIG).

2 Addenda au rapport technique This link will open in a new window., 2016 March - Centre international de référence sur le cycle de vie des produits, procédés et services (CIRAIG).

You can’t recycle electric vehicle batteries, so they go straight to the landfill.

FICTION

Electric vehicle batteries last 10 years on average. After that, they aren’t efficient enough to be used in vehicles. They can, however, be used in other applications. Companies are working to develop new uses for electric vehicle batteries to give them a second life as fixed energy storage units, for example.

Many companies around the world also recycle batteries, and most electric vehicle battery components (metal, plastic, etc.) are salvaged and reused.

Once there are a lot of electric vehicles on the road, Hydro-Québec will not be able to meet electricity demand.

FICTION

Hydro-Québec’s power grid can already meet the charging demand of one million electric vehicles, i.e., nearly a quarter of the vehicles on Québec roads. Most users charge their vehicles at home overnight, so this additional energy will be consumed during off-peak hours using surplus electricity.

Using Québec-produced electricity to power the vehicle fleet will cut our dependence on foreign oil and boost Québec’s economy.

Only people with a closed garage can install a 240V charging station.

FICTION

Most charging stations on the market can be installed indoors or outdoors, as they are designed to withstand heat, cold, rain, snow, ice, wind, and more. However, they should always be installed by a master electrician. Owners of all-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles can get financial assistance to purchase and install a 240V home charging station. For details on home charging station installation, go to the Roulez vert Program web page.