Jan 282024

I first bought a hybrid (a Honda Civic) in 2004. I loved that car; it served us faithfully for 10 years. Our more recent Hondas were not hybrids, but the reasons were eminently practical: hybrids were in short supply, conventional gasoline cars were cheaper, and we use the car very little in any case, so…

Having said that, I certainly contemplated the idea of buying an all electric vehicle, but every time I think it through, I decide against it. Today, I saw a map that perfectly illustrates my lack of enthusiasm. Here it is:

This map shows the locations of supercharger stations where you’d have to stop for a 20-30 minute recharge, in order to complete a cross-country trip across the United States in a Tesla automobile.

In contrast, here’s a map of an actual trip I took in my Civic Hybrid back in 2005, along with the approximate locations where I stopped for gas (reconstructed from old receipts):

What can I say? I think EVs are great when you live in the suburbs and use your car for shopping and commuting to work. If I lived, say, in Kanata and commuted daily to work at, say, Place du Portage in Gatineau, purchasing an EV would make an awful lot of sense. But that’s not where we live or how we commute. We live on Ottawa Lowertown, which is to say almost downtown, we work at home, we use the car only occasionally, but as this example demonstrates, sometimes for lengthy road trips. EVs are not great for lengthy road trips. I am used to the idea of driving to Montreal Airport and back without worrying about stopping for gas. Or driving to Toronto non-stop.

And then, of course, there are the dreaded Canadian winters. It’s one thing to use waste heat from a gasoline engine to heat the interior of a car. It’s another thing to waste electric power stored in a battery for this, converting electricity inefficiently into heat, at the expense of range already reduced by the effect of cold weather on the batteries. And while heat pumps can help, there are no miracles when the outside air temperature is closer to -40 than -30 Centigrade, which is a not altogether uncommon occurrence (though it is certainly becoming less common) in these parts of Canada.

And then there’s the question of where the electric energy comes from. Renewables are okay, nuclear would be great. But too much of the electricity, even here in nuclear-rich Ontario, comes from natural gas fired plants. That’s not so great.

So for now, it’s either gasoline-powered or hybrid vehicles for us. EVs may be in our future, but I am not yet too keen on them, to be honest.

 Posted by at 3:05 pm