EV Basics

Everything you need to know to get started on your EV Experience. Find answers to the most common questions about electric vehicles and discover the benefits to you and your community.

What is
an EV?

An EV is an electric vehicle.

It is a car, truck, or bus that uses electricity as its power source. To charge, EVs are plugged into a charging station. Some EVs are powered only by electricity and are referred to as being battery electric vehicles (BEV).

Another kind of EV is a plug-in hybrid vehicle (often abbreviated as PHEV). These vehicles have both a gas-powered engine and an electric motor and can switch between the two. Conventional hybrids, on the other hand, cannot be plugged in and are not considered EVs.

Other kinds of electricity-powered vehicles include e-bikes, e-scooters, and e-mopeds.

Will an EV get me where I need to go?

Yes, you can count on an electric vehicle for short and long journeys.

This is one of the top questions people ask about EVs, but the truth is that most EV drivers never have to worry about the range of their electric vehicles.

Range anxiety (the fear that the battery will die before you reach your destination) is largely unfounded. The EVs sold in Canada today can travel on average more than 400 km before needing to be plugged in to charge. Some EVs can travel as far as 600 km! Plus, there are plenty of charging stations, and more are being built every day (see here for information on charging stations).

Charging an EV is very different than filling a car up with gas. It’s not something you have to go out to do, it simply happens, usually overnight while you are sleeping. Imagine hitting the road with a full tank every time – that dream is a reality with EVs!

Aren’t EVs expensive?

Electric vehicles are more expensive to buy but cheaper to run and maintain.

The initial purchase price of an EV is, currently, higher than that of an equivalent gas vehicle (although we expect prices to fall as demand for EVs increases). But once you factor in rebates and savings on gas and maintenance, you’ll see that EVs are not actually more expensive in the long term.

Try this handy tool to calculate and compare the total cost of ownership between different models of gas and electric vehicles.

How does charging

If you know how to use a plug, you can charge an EV!

Charging an electric vehicle is easy: you simply plug your car into a charging station that is connected to the electric grid. There are three different types of charging stations: Level 1, your regular 120-volt outlet; Level 2, which uses a 240-volt outlet: and Level 3, also called Direct Current Fast Chargers (DCFC). We dive into them a little more here.

If you are buying an EV as a personal vehicle you will likely want easy access to a Level 2 charger, either at home or at work. Once you have your charging situation in place, there really is very little else you need to know or worry about.

Do EVs work
in the winter?

Yes, electric vehicles work in all kinds of weather.

Cold temperatures do not damage EV batteries, but they do make them work harder, meaning the charge won’t last as long. But no need to worry, there’s usually lots of range left to go where you need to go. If you really want to dive into the data, read this.

The cabin of an EV, on the other hand, warms up very quickly – unlike a gas vehicle you don’t have to wait for the engine to heat up. On long trips, the cabin, battery and moving parts stay warm which helps to minimize range loss. If you are big on long winter road trips, opt for EV models with ranges of or above 400 km.

Why are EVs better for the planet?

The simplest answer is that EVs don’t run on fossil fuels.

EVs produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gas vehicles because they are powered by electricity. Here in Ontario, we are fortunate to rely on an electricity grid that is 94% emissions-free because it doesn’t produce its energy by burning coal or gas. In Ottawa transportation has a huge impact on the environment – 42% of greenhouse gas emissions are produced by vehicles that run on fossil fuels. This is why it is so important to reduce the number of gas vehicles on the road.

Another reason EVs are a better choice for the environment is that batteries can last for many years and will usually outlive the vehicle they were made to power. Once an EV has come to the end of its usage, the battery can be repurposed as a generator or source of electricity storage for up to 10 more years. At the end of their life, batteries can be recycled, so they need never end up in a landfill.

Are there
rebates for purchasing
an EV?

Yes, there are some rebates available for purchasing both new and used EVs.

Canada-wide: The Federal government provides a purchase incentive of up to $5,000 on each new eligible EV or PHEV.  Learn more here.

Ontario: There are currently no rebates or incentives for the purchase of new vehicles through the provincial government.

Québec: Up to $7,000 for the purchase of a new EV and $3,500 for a used EV as well as a $600 rebate for the purchase of an EVSE.  Learn more here.

I’m curious
to explore EV models –
where do I look?

There are several ways to learn more about specific models of electric vehicles.

A good place to start online is the Electric Vehicle Council of Ottawa’s Buyer’s Guide. This list is regularly updated and provides an overview of EVs available in Ontario (and Canada).

You can also book a free EV test drive or ride through EV Experience. Discover availabilities and models here.