15 entries categorized "EV and EV Charging"

Making the EV Switch – Interviews with Paul Raszewski and David Bennett

I’m a big fan of online reviews, especially when I’m shopping for a new piece of technology. For everything from my oscillating fan to my cookware to my TV, I’ve researched and combed my way through a myriad of posts on various sites. Folks who leave reviews are often quite specific and generous with their information, which I appreciate very much.

But, sometimes, you just need to talk it out with someone who’s been through the research and purchasing process before – especially when it’s a purchase that’s as central to your life as a vehicle. And if you’re considering switching from a gas-powered vehicle to an electric one, it’s even more helpful to talk to someone who’s done it.

Recently I spoke with Paul Raszewski and David Bennett. Paul is a realtor and the co-founder of TEVA – the Toronto Electric Vehicle Association, an organization dedicated to electric transportation advocacy, education and adoption. David is a Suncor employee in Fort McMurray and an EV enthusiast. I asked them both about their history with EVs, surprises along the way and advice for folks considering the switch.

PT: Tell me a bit about your history with EVs.

Paul: I’m passionate about new technologies and was curious about electric cars – this was back in 2011. You had the choice of 3 options in Canada then: the Chevrolet Volt, the Nissan Leaf and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV. I chose the i-MiEV because it was the cheapest at the time. Since then, we’ve had 6 different EVs; there are currently 3 in the family. We’ve had pure electric models, plug in hybrid models and hybrids with range extenders. When I first got the i-MiEV, I would only drive it around town, not take it on long trips. But the technology has come really far! My current car, the Audi e-tron can go over 400KM on a charge.

Paul’s Audi e-tron at a Petro-Canada fast charger
Paul’s Audi e-tron at a Petro-Canada fast charger

David: We were on a family vacation and my son said he wanted to go for a ride in a Tesla. Side note – you can’t do a same-day test drive in a Tesla; you have to book a co-pilot. But we got the co-pilot booked and finally did the drive. Driving it really threw off my preconceptions about EVs. There’s so much technology on board. And the acceleration is serious! When you hit the accelerator, it’s like you’re already there. After we took the test drive, we were hooked. We got a Tesla in 2018 and I’ve been using it as my daily driver for 3 ½ years. We also have a gas-powered vehicle, but we mainly use the Tesla.

David’s Tesla at a Tesla charging station
David’s Tesla at a Tesla charging station

PT: Anything that surprised you? Either when purchasing the vehicle or the day-to-day driving?

Paul: I’ve been surprised by the lack of knowledge with dealers who are selling EVs. Back when I first bought one, you certainly had to do your own homework. These days, it’s a little better, but still not perfect. For example, sales folks often aren’t aware of how to find a charging station. They will say to just use the car’s GPS. But apps are much better – not only showing you where chargers are located, but how to pay for them. This is one of the reasons we created TEVA – to help educate dealers and drivers about all things EV.

David: A couple of things. First, the process for buying the Tesla. I used to work at a major car dealership and there was a clearly defined process for purchasing a car. With the Tesla it was much different. I just went online, chose my options and clicked “buy”. After the bank called to confirm financing, they delivered the Tesla to our door in Fort Mac. It was pretty cool; the “frunk” (that’s what they call the front trunk) had balloons, short bread cookies and a personal note from Elon Musk.

The other thing that surprised me was how I changed my overall driving and travel style. I don’t do any more passing on the highway – just set my cruise and drive at a constant speed. It’s much more relaxed. Same with travel style. There’s more planning for longer trips, making sure I know where the charging stations are. And when we travel as a family, it’s a very different feeling. When we stop to charge, we get out and locate new spots in the town where we’re charging. We go for lunch together and walk around. It takes longer, but it’s more fun.

PT: Have you tried Petro-Canada’s fast chargers? Any comments?

Paul: Yes, I use them quite extensively, both in Toronto as well as on a road trip cross-country. I also use the Petro-Canada EV App. On the road trip, some of the chargers were broken, so it would be good to remind station owners to report when their charger is offline or unavailable. But when we were able to use them, we did get a 150kW charge. Reporting a problem with a charger is also fairly complicated. Something that the Electrify App has is a one button “Report a Problem” feature. Would like to see this added to the PC app.

Inside Paul’s Audi e-tron at a Petro-Canada fast charger
Inside Paul’s Audi e-tron at a Petro-Canada fast charger

David: Actually, not yet. These days we’re not travelling as much so our home charger has been enough – the closest PC fast charger is down in Calgary, 8 hours away! We’re looking forward to driving out to Halifax – the PC network will make that possible. I would really like to see more fast chargers from Fort Mac to Edmonton. There’s only the one slow charger in Athabasca. Would be great to be able to take the electric highway to the oil sands. Put more chargers up here. The Tesla Owners Club of Alberta holds large rallies wherever there are chargers; it would be great to see 100 owners driving up Highway 63 to Fort Mac, coming north for picture opportunities!

Inside David’s Tesla while driving on a family road trip
Inside David’s Tesla while driving on a family road trip

PT: Finally, any tips for drivers who are considering making the switch to an EV?

Paul: First, don’t be scared off by the cost. Even though the up-front cost is more expensive, the long-term cost is much better. Gasoline vs. electricity – you’ll save. No oil change, not as frequent brake service – the long term servicing costs are better. And second, look for an EV community who can give you support – they’re out there.

Paul and his son, Paul Jr. – co-founders of TEVA
Paul and his son, Paul Jr. – co-founders of TEVA

David: Unless you’ve got your financing in order and are ready to buy, don’t test drive! It’s such a great experience; you won’t be able to get it out of your head. And it will ruin you for other vehicles. When I went back to my gas-powered car after the test drive, it felt so simplistic, like going back 20 years. It really hooks you.

David and his family at the Tesla factory in California
David and his family at the Tesla factory in California

~|~

Paul and David – thank you so much for taking the time to share your EV experiences with our readers! And I’ve passed along your comments about the Petro-Canada fast charge network and app to the EV team. Readers, are any of you thinking of making a switch to an EV in the near future? Let us know about your process and questions in the comments!

~ Kate T.


Cross-Canada Road Trippin’ in an EV

I love a good road trip. I’ve done a few memorable ones so far in my life, including a Waterloo, ON to North Battleford, SK trip that taught me the absolute truth of the lyrics in Wendell Ferguson’s song “Rocks and Trees” about the landscape of Northern Ontario:

Rocks & trees, trees & rocks
Reams and reams of endless trees and tons of rocks
The whole north is just proliferous
With metamorphic and coniferous
Rocks & trees, trees & rocks

The most exciting vehicle I drove in one of my road trip excursions was a 1976 Dodge Dart sedan. It was the mid-1990s at the time – as you might imagine, there were several stops for repairs along the way.

Ever since Petro-Canada completed their EV fast charge network along the TransCanada, I’ve been thinking I’d like to try another big trip – but this time in an EV. While I still haven’t been able to get out, I recently spoke to someone who had. Earlier this year, Marianne Kunic, with her brother, Agan, and her dog, Gigi, in tow - drove from Sechelt, BC to St. Stephen, NB in her Kia Soul EV, affectionately named “Cricket” because of its bright green colour.

Marianne and Agan

PumpTalk: Thanks for chatting about your recent cross-country trip with me! How did it go?

Marianne: We had a great time. It was lovely getting to spend quality one-on-one time with my brother, Agan. Plus he helped me manage any anxiety I had about the trip, such as planning a good route or finding a charger.

PT: Is Cricket your first EV?

Marianne: It’s my second. I’ve owned an EV for seven years now – both of them have been Kia Souls. Travelling in an EV really sparked a lot of good conversations. Everywhere we stopped, people were interested in electric vehicles – wanting to know more about them. Even in places where they don’t have a lot of charging stations, people were curious. There is definitely some anxiety about getting an EV – specifically about running out of charge. But the cars are so smart – they warn you ahead of time. It was like being an ambassador for EVs.

Marianne and Agan

PT: How was your experience at Petro-Canada’s EV fast chargers?

Marianne: We really like the Petro-Canada machines. They are well-lit, state of the art, easy to use. We used a lot of different chargers on the trip; we charged the battery two or three times a day, depending on the distance we travelled. The Petro-Canada ones were definitely our favourite, but there were some kinks that still need to be worked out.

We ran into some Wi-Fi problems at one station in Saskatchewan. The Wi-Fi by the charger was quite poor. So I was in the restaurant, talking to customer support and would then have to relay those instructions out the door to my brother who was at the charger – it made it a bit difficult.

And there was another location where the charger was out of service and the site staff was unable to fix it. So we ended up using an external outlet at a local motel. Took us three hours just to get enough of a charge to limp to the next fast charger.

Editor’s note: we thank Marianne for sharing this information with us! We’ve gotten in touch with the locations she mentioned and are working on solving these issues.

Agan and Gigi

PT: A lot of people, like myself, are considering going cross-country in an EV. What tips or advice can you share?

Marianne: Having an app that helps you locate the chargers is essential. We used the Petro-Canada EV app as well as ChargeHub and FLO (mainly in NB).

Make sure you update your car’s GPS maps before you leave. If you’re in an area without a connection, you’ll still want to have the latest maps.

Plot your route ahead of time and make sure you factor in enough time for charging. In general, charging time took longer than we anticipated. Build in an hour for each time you need to charge.

Drive at or below the speed limit. You use more charge if you go above the speed limit. Staying under made us a bit slower, but it stretched out the distance we were able to go. Using cruise control really helped with this.

PT: Would you do it again?

Marianne: Yes, in a heartbeat!

~|~

Marianne, thank you so much for sharing your experience driving across Canada in an EV with us! It always helps to hear from trailblazers and get the best tips and advice. What do you think, readers? Are you ready to drive across Canada in an EV?

~Kate T.


Get Out and Get Your EV Charge On

Spring is in the air and many of us are experiencing the travel itch. Staying local and exploring what your own province has to offer is still the best plan. We were delighted to see Andrea, aka @Mommy Gearest, and her family tooling around in a Prius and stopping off at one of our EV Fast Charge stations.

@MommyGearest at EV Fast Charge

@MommyGearest at EV Fast Charge
Photos Courtesy of @MommyGearest; Photo Credit: Kristen Recalis Photography

Check out her post and her story on Instagram where she talks about charging an EV in colder temperatures and shows off our EV app. Thanks, Andrea!


AJAC’s Annual EcoRun Transforms into EcoMonth for 2020 PLUS our New EV App

Like many organizations across the country, the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) has had to adapt to this year’s unusual circumstances, particularly in regards to their annual EcoRun. Typically, during the EcoRun, a group of 20-30 automotive journalists, over a few days, drive across part of Canada, test-driving eco-friendly vehicles and collecting real-world fuel economy stats to share. Check out our post about last year’s EcoRun.

2020 EcoMonth Banner

This year, AJAC has designated September as EcoMonth and plans to devote the entire month to educating consumers on the merits of electrified and fuel-efficient driving, all while maintaining a physical distance. AJAC journalists across the country are test-driving vehicles locally and connecting, virtually, with automaker/sponsor partners. You can check out their ongoing reporting by following the hashtag #AJACEcoMonth

And now for a little EV news of our own…

Petro-Canada EV App

We just launched the Petro-Canada EV mobile app for iOS  and Android. With the EV app you can:

  • Start your charge
  • Pay from your phone
  • Monitor your sessions
  • Search for your next stop and more

Download it today from your app store: iOS App Store | Android App Store

What do you think about AJAC’s EcoMonth? Do events and reporting like theirs inform your decisions around choosing electric? And do apps like ours help? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

~ Rose R.


Part 2: Clearing the Air on EVs – Q&A with Pat Lazenby

A couple of weeks ago we chatted with Pat Lazenby, the Project Manager at Suncor and person in charge of building Canada’s Electric Highway, about barriers to EV adoption. This week we continue our chat.

Petro-Canada EV

Q. What should I think about if I'm considering making the switch to an EV?

A. You’ll want to think about a few factors. First, consider your commute length and route. This will help determine the range of battery you need along with the charging options you’ll want to have available. Look at the charging station infrastructure in your driving area so you can map out your route and determine if you need workplace or on the go charging options.  Although it is possible to charge an EV with a typical wall outlet, the charging times can be very significant, especially with larger vehicle batteries.

Many homeowners install what we call level 2 home charging systems (240V) which can reduce charge times by 75 to 80%. The cost of these systems can range from $500 to $1200. Most certified electricians are capable of installing a home charger. If you live in or are thinking about buying a condo, investigate the accessibility for charging your EV.

And don’t forget that weather can also be a factor as very cold weather can reduce battery performance and range.

Finally consider cost factors. There are many more EV options now than there were a few years ago. There are also government rebates available both federally and in selected provinces. This can help reduce the upfront purchase cost that is higher than comparable fuel powered vehicles. The operating costs of EVs are also less than that of traditional fuel powered vehicles so make sure you do the long-term math.

Q. You mention range and charging station infrastructure above. How did Petro-Canada choose the stops along Canada's Electric Highway?

A. We had to look at several functional criteria such as the layout of the station, lot size and utility requirements. However, a key criterion was the distance between stations. Keep in mind that our goal was to enable most EV drivers to drive from coast-to-coast in Canada, even if they only charged with Petro-Canada. This meant that the distance between sites could not be more than 250 KMs and was ideally less than that. We also wanted our customers to enjoy other amenities while they are charging such as our restaurant partners and our convenience stores. Although we could not provide all of these services at every location, many sites have some of these services. Ed. – you can see which services that each station offers using on our station locator

Q. Where can I find out more about EVs?

A. One resource I like is Plug’n’Drive. They have a ton of information online about charging options, EVs and even a test drive location and office in North York which is open to the public. The friendly staff can help answer you may have, and you can take many EVs for a spin.  You may also want to check out your local EV Society. I’ve had the opportunity to meet and chat with many of them over the last year and they are a great resource for your local commute.  

Thanks, Pat, for taking the time to chat with us! Any other questions for Pat, PumpTalk readers? If so, post ‘em in the comments.

~Braden H.