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Part 1: Clearing the Air on EVs – Q&A with Pat Lazenby

Back in December we asked about purchasing an electric vehicle and what would be your biggest barrier. Here’s what you said.

Barriers to Adopting an Electric Vehicle

To see how common these issues are, we consulted with Pat Lazenby, the Project Manager at Suncor and person in charge of building Canada’s Electric Highway.

Petro-Canada EV

Q. So, Pat, what do you think about the above?

A. These are definitely some of the issues regarding EVs that I hear about most frequently. Let’s take them in order:

First – that EVs cost significantly more than “regular” vehicles. While it is true that the purchase price is typically higher, overall operating costs can be significantly lower due to the reduced maintenance requirements and the cost of charging versus fuelling.  

Next – the driving range of EVs. Some of the earlier models of full electric and plug-in hybrids had a limited driving range but the reality is that many of the battery electric vehicles made today have ranges between 300 and 500Kms on a full charge, and this is improving every year.

And make sure you’re looking at up-to-date charging station infrastructure in your driving area so you can map out your route.

Finally – the environmental impact of EVs. The reality is that the manufacturing process for EVs creates more emissions and a greater carbon footprint compared to internal combustion vehicles (gasoline and diesel powered cars). This is based on the mining intensity and process for making the lithium batteries.

Where things improve for the environment is during the operating or driving of the EV where carbon emissions drop significantly. Since there are no emissions during the driving of the EV, this results in EVs having lower overall emissions over the life span of the vehicle.

Q. How has EV technology improved?

A. There have been many improvements recently in EVs and the most noticeable is improved driving range.

I do think that one step change will be in reduced charging times. As battery capacity and technology improves, drivers will experience significantly reduced charging times when they are on the go. This is a key reason why Petro-Canada recently installed DC fast chargers capable of delivering 350kW of power, the highest of any system available in Canada. This will increase the likelihood of charging times getting closer to 10 minutes, down from averages of closer to 30 minutes currently and will help EV drivers move more quickly to what matters most to them.

Thanks, Pat! Next week we’ll post Part 2 of our conversation where Pat discusses what to consider when switching to an EV.

~Braden H.


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Levantis Brad

Interesting that concerns over the battery is so high. Most of the battery is recycled and that is only improving over time. Your environmental benefit starts after about 3000 to 5000 km depending on what grid you are on.

Harvey Soicher

Great article well laid out and very informative. I just want to comment on some facts that are not quite accurate as well as some other issues I've experienced.
In regards to Petro Canada being the only company that is offering 350 KW chargers: Electrify Canada has a few stations currently operational with 32 planned and will be operational by this summer. These stations are able to offer up to 350 KW of power.
They are similar to the ones used by Electrify America in the USA where they are about 350 stations currently in operation throughout the USA.
Average Charging Times:
Charging times are relative to the size of battery, how much of a charge you require and how fast each type of EV can accept a charge. To say that charging times are getting close to 10 minutes and that the average right now is closer to 30 minutes is too general and definetly not realistic right now. I have a 95 KW battery and at the Petro Canada station in Merritt BC, the charger states it can go up to 200 KW. My car can accept up to 150 KW yet the maximum rate was 106 KW, which is still fantastic, and my car took 50 minutes to charge from 15% level at the start to 100% full, again still great but much more than 30 minutes. Of course if I only charged to 80% then the time it would take to charge would have been about 35 or 40 minutes. Most high speed chargers currently offered by BC Hydro, Greenlots, EVGO, Chargpoint, Flo and others are only up to 50KW and for an average size battery like 60 KW would take at least one hour to charge on average and those with larger batteries would be even longer.
Petro Canada EV Charger Help Line:
Each time that I tried to call the toll free number help line, no one answered.
It's important and especially when a customer who has a charging issue and is at one of the Petro Canada chargers that they get help! For all the times I needed assistance at any other companies chargers i was always able to get help and usually within a few minutes. The new High Speed Chargers being installed are fantastic and I'm super pleased that Petro Canada is installing them. They work great! However is there an RFID card that can be used instead of using a Credit Card or at least one that can link to my Petro Points. Right now I'm not getting Petro Points when using a Petro Canada EV charger. Does the RBC petro Points card get you additional petro points for the number of KW being used?

Pat Lazenby

Hi, Harvey - thank you so much for your thoughtful comments. To further clarify ...

350kW chargers: We think it's great that other companies offer the 350kW! We know it's not exclusive to Petro-Canada, though we were the first to offer it and make it available across the country. As more and more chargers have 350kW capabilities, hopefully we'll continue to see EV adoption rise.

Average Charging Times: Your comments definitely reflect the varying nature of charging times based on vehicle capability which is evolving. Our 30 minute “average” is based on up to an 80% charge from a 20% charge for the “average” EV. This will vary from car to car. The 10 minute aspiration is expected once battery/vehicle capability is able to accept closer to 350kW.

The Help Line: We're very sorry that you had a negative experience calling our help line - that is definitely not our intention! Just want to make sure that this is the number you're calling: 1-800-668-0220 When you call, you will hear a selection menu - pressing "5" puts you into an EV menu where you can specify whether you have a general or technical enquiry. And then you should get put through to an agent who can help.

Petro-Points: I've forwarded your questions surrounding Petro-Points to the team. We expect to have some news on this shortly.

Thank you for using our chargers!

Sincerely .. Pat Lazenby

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