Canadians’ EV Range Anxiety is Part Imaginary, Part Real
Canadians bought nearly 20% more electric vehicles last year than in 2015, but that total still represented less than one in every 100 cars sold. To boost the total, provinces need to address gaps in recharging networks, and auto buyers need to rethink their needs, suggests CBC News.
Range anxiety—the knowledge that electric vehicles can’t cover the same distance as gas-powered ones—is a powerful factor deterring buyers “from fully committing to an electric option” the broadcaster asserts. While “there are roughly 5,000 public charging stations across Canada, that pales in comparison to the almost 12,000 gas stations in the country—nearly one for every 3,000 Canadians.”
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Even with gaps in charger coverage, range anxiety is an unnecessary worry for most Canadian drivers, CBC notes. “According to Transport Canada, the average Canadian drives approximately 50 kilometres every day. That includes common activities like driving to and from work, taking the kids to school, picking up groceries, and going to a mall or a movie theatre.” That distance is well within the range of most of today’s commercial EVs.
“I drive an unusually high amount, over 50,000 kilometres every year,” said Wilf Steimle, president of the Ontario Electric Vehicle Society. “I drive 100% of that electric.”
Or, as Cara Clairman, CEO of EV advocacy group Toronto-based Plug’n Drive, put it: yes, there are still some gaps in the EV charging infrastructure across the distances between big Canadian cities. But then again, “99% of us have no plans, nor will we ever, to drive across Canada.”
At this point in Canada’s EV development, charging stations do tend to be disproportionately clustered in major centres. Citing Regina as an example, CBC points to a vicious circle, in which “a lack of infrastructure means fewer citizens are likely to invest in electric vehicles, leading to a lack of support for infrastructure.”
Even better-equipped provinces like Ontario suffer from the cluster problem: “There are, for instance, approximately 220 charging stations in Mississauga, Ontario, but only three in nearby Guelph,” CBC notes. Complains EV driver Darryl McMahon: “[T]here’s a huge dead zone across the rest of [the province]. I can’t get from Ottawa to Toronto via the fast-charger network. The gaps are too long between charging stations.”
P.E.I., by contrast, boasts a charging network that spans its entire 224-kilometre geography.
But as the report notes, most provinces where charging networks lag have plans on the books to address the shortage.