By Ron Young —
“Don’t doubt it’s you.” These words from a recent soundtrack Elon Musk released seem like some really good advice for the beginning of this decade filled with uncertainty, doubt, transformation of our social norms, and mind-numbing onslaught of disinformation. It’s even more striking that these words of wisdom are coming from a man who is literally changing the world we live in by trusting his vibe and acting on his beliefs. Many of the companies he founded or co-founded are household names: PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla.
Musk’s stated goals are to change the world and humanity (including) reducing global warming through sustainable energy production and consumption and reducing the risk of human extinction by establishing a human colony on Mars.
Tesla, the first new American car start-up since Jeep in 1941, has rapidly become the second most valuable car company in the world, second only to Toyota. Given that Teslas are expensive electric cars this is a phenomenal achievement, but predictive of what the future holds for the automobile. Tesla has influenced and driven nearly all other car manufacturers to implement or accelerate their electric vehicle (EV) development. Tesla has achieved this stature in a very short time, while building the safest car on the road confirmed by NHTSA, the American traffic safety administration, and NCAP, the comparable European agency.
The cost for charging an EV will depend on the capacity of the battery. Let’s say you are charging a vehicle with a 75 kWh battery capacity and a range of 500 km.The cost of one kWh from BC Hydro is about 14 cents if you are charging at home, which makes it $10.50 for 500 kilometres. For comparison, an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle that uses 8 litres/100km will cost about $54 to go 500 km, if gas is $1.35/litre. So, in this average example charging an electric car at home is a about 20 percent of the cost of gas. If you charge at a commercial charge point the cost will go up to about 45% of the cost of gas.
A few interesting facts about EV cars in general: EVs have zero emissions, fewer moving parts, less maintenance, and are safer, cheaper, quieter, and can charge on regular 120v wall outlets.
In comparison, ICE vehicles have thousands of parts. Electric cars have far fewer and the primary maintenance is tire changes and brakes, although regenerative braking means brakes can last 100,000 km. So, although the initial cost of an EV is about 20% more than an ICE vehicle the long-term savings on gas and maintenance will eventually return that added cost to you. Your vehicle will also have a proven higher resale value. The increased acceptance of all EVs due to Tesla’s leadership will bring the cost of these vehicles even lower as battery technology and production costs decrease.
Among the lesser-known benefits of EVs are that you can power your house from the EV battery in an emergency with the right setup. EV batteries can have life spans of half a million km or more, and at the end of their EV life they are not discarded but can be re-purposed in a number of ways as they will still have 70 percent of their capacity. They can be used to power data centers, streetlights, home energy backups, RV power, etc.
Alf Cassidy, of Williams Lake, is probably the Cariboo’s earliest electric vehicle adopter. In 2013 at the age of 82 he offered to drive a Tesla Roadster that his son in law had purchased. The trip from Ottawa to Victoria had some adventures and complications given there was no national electric car-charging network back then. You can read an interesting write-up about his experiences at driving.ca/tag/alf-cassidy. Alf was the maintenance chief for the 220-tonne diesel-electric haulage trucks at Gibraltar, so he wasn’t new to electric vehicles. Despite the challenge of finding charge locations, he was so impressed with the Roadster that he bought himself a Tesla.
Charge locations are now widely spread throughout Canada and the United States, thousand of which can be found on an easy-to-use free smartphone app called Plugshare where people post photos, charger numbers, and charge rates. Petro Canada, for example, has recently completed a Canada-wide charging network. BC Hydro has installed several charging stations in BC communities, including at Williams Lake City Hall, at the BC Forest Service parking lot, and at TRU.
There is a lot of FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) surrounding electric vehicles and a lot of outright disinformation. However,much sooner than later electric transportation will dominate our highways and byways. A recent survey of 10,000 owners said that more than 90% would not go back to ICE vehicles. -GG
Ron Young a renewable energy specialist owns the earthRight store in Williams Lake established in 1993. A series of articles on the basics of solar energy can be found at his website: www.solareagle.com. Copyright Ron Young 2020.