EV essential guide

How to select the right electric vehicle

If you're thinking about buying an electric vehicle, you’ve come to the right place. The electric vehicle (EV) specialists at Go Auto are ready to help you. In this EV buying guide, we cover essential information about electric vehicles.

In the coming months, we'll be sharing content with personalized recommendations based on your preferences and needs. This includes types of EVs, your journey length, charging at home, public charging networks, and more. So come back to the Go Auto Tips & Tools section regularly for new content about EVs and everything automotive. Let us help find the perfect electric vehicle for you!

The renowned Nissan LEAF, shown above, is a fully electric vehicle, so it's called an EV or battery electric vehicle (BEV). Its 40-kWh battery delivers 147 hp, and a range of up to 240 kilometres. A 60-kWh battery is available, giving 214 hp and a range of up to approximately 342 kilometres. Find the Nissan Leaf at Go Nissan North or Go Nissan South in Edmonton or Spruce Grove Nissan.

You're ready to buy an EV

The day has come. You're saying goodbye to the internal combustion engine and your next vehicle will be an electric vehicle (EV).

Or maybe you're a first-time car buyer and an electric vehicle makes sense to you. In fact, it's all you really know.

Whatever kind of customer you are, you know that electric vehicles are becoming mainstream. You probably know someone who drives an EV.

Go Auto has compiled this EV essential guide to help you understand electric vehicles. This guide covers everything you need to know about EVs; it’s followed by an FAQ for a quick summary of the most important information. If you can't find the answers you want, feel free to reach out to us at happytohelp@goauto.ca.

Electric and hybrid vehicles in Canada

The world of electric vehicles is full of acronyms . . . BEVs, HEVs, and PHEVs. Don’t let this put you off - we define each one. 

Go Auto dealerships have as competitive pricing on all fully electric and hybrid vehicles. We offer great finance rates, and financing can include the cost of a home charger. This blog post isn’t exhaustive, with new EVs entering the market often. Contact your local Go Auto dealership for more information on electric vehicles available in your area.

What is a battery electric vehicle (EV)?

A battery electric vehicle (BEVs or just EV) is often referred to as an electric car and runs purely on electricity. It's powered solely by an onboard battery pack. There's no internal combustion engine, meaning fossil fuels aren't involved in the power delivery. EVs produce zero tailpipe emissions. 

When accelerating, electricity flows from the battery pack to the electric motor driving the wheels. BEVs can be recharged using a conventional three-prong outlet, although this adds limited range per hour, so dedicated wall chargers or stand-alone charging stations are recommended for faster charging. Notable examples include the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUV.

The 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning truck is the only fully electric truck available in Canada*. It features a standard and extended range battery with a range of 370 and 515 kilometres, respectively. It comes in three models, with a starting MRSP of $79,000. *At the time of publication.

What is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV)?

PHEVs combine an internal combustion engine with an electric motor and a battery pack that can be charged from an external source - so they need to be plugged in. These vehicles can operate on electricity for a limited range before the gasoline engine takes over. 

What are hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs)?

Hybrids combine an electric motor and a gasoline engine to power a vehicle. The electric motor and gasoline engine work together to optimize fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. There is no need to plug-in an HEV.

Compared to a pure electric vehicle, an HEV has a smaller battery, which is charged by the gasoline engine and through regenerative braking. The electric motor provides additional power to the gasoline engine during acceleration and other driving situations.

HEVs are a popular choice for drivers who want to reduce their environmental impact without sacrificing performance and driving range.

What is a fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV)?

An FCEV uses a fuel cell to generate electricity onboard through a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen, with water as the only by-product. FCEVs offer extended ranges and quick refueling times compared to BEVs, but the availability of hydrogen fueling stations is currently limited.

Currently, only Hyundai makes a fuel cell available in Canada, the NEXO SUV. Unfortunately, global supply chain issues are limiting the availability of this vehicle, but please check back at GoAuto.ca frequently for updates.

Getting used to regenerative braking

Regenerative braking is a process that enables an EV to slow down by capturing and converting kinetic energy into electrical energy, which is then stored in the vehicle's battery. It extends the driving range of a hybrid HV, and reduces brake wear, resulting in less frequent and less expensive maintenance repairs.

In conventional gasoline-powered vehicles, this energy is lost as heat and friction during braking, which is an inefficient use of energy.

  1. You'll need time to get used to regenerative braking, mostly because it's slightly less effective at low speeds. In slow-moving stop-and-go traffic, regenerative braking cannot capture much energy and feed it back to the battery. This reduces braking effectiveness during rush hour. The solution is to learn to start breaking much sooner.

  2. Drivers also need to get used to how the brake pedal feels, and how to control braking. Depending on the vehicle and the design, regenerative brakes can feel momentarily unresponsive or difficult to modulate for smooth, clean braking and stopping. Regenerative brakes may not have the same stopping power as conventional brakes, requiring drivers to step harder on the brake pedal. You'll need to adjust your driving style accordingly.

Despite these two points, regenerative braking systems are continually improving. Even today's systems perform much better than earlier ones. When you test-drive hybrid and electric vehicles, pay close attention to how the brakes feel and work.

Look for more blog posts about EVs and hybrids in the coming months. In the meantime, if you have questions, contact your local Go Auto dealership.

EV and hybrid vehicle FAQ

How far can I drive in my EV before I have to recharge?

The range of an electric vehicle (EV) or hybrid vehicle (PHEV or HEV) depends on several factors, including the make and model of the car, its battery capacity, driving conditions, and weather. In general, most modern EVs and hybrids offer a driving range between 160 to 560 kilometres on a single charge.

Keep in mind that real-world driving conditions, such as traffic, uphill climbs, high speeds, or using the air conditioning or heater, can impact the range of an EV.

To ensure you don't run out of charge, it's essential to plan your route ahead, especially for longer trips, and you need to pinpoint charging station locations along the way. Most EVs also have built-in navigation systems that can help you find nearby charging stations and estimate the remaining range based on your driving patterns.

How long does an EV or hybrid battery last?

The lifespan of an electric vehicle (EV) or hybrid battery can vary depending on factors such as the battery chemistry, usage, charging habits, and environmental conditions. Most modern EV batteries are designed to last at least eight to 15 years, with some manufacturers offering warranties in that range, typically covering around 160,000 to 240,000 kilometres.

It's important to note that batteries may experience a gradual decline in capacity over time, which could result in reduced driving range. However, most batteries retain around 70 to 80% of their initial capacity even after eight years or more, depending on usage and the specific battery chemistry.

To extend the life of your EV or hybrid battery, consider following these best practices:

  1. Avoid frequent DC fast charging, as it can generate more heat and accelerate battery degradation.
  2. Charge the battery to around 80-90% for daily use, and only charge to 100% for long trips when you need the maximum range.
  3. Avoid letting the battery drain to very low levels frequently, as it can stress the battery and reduce its lifespan.
  4. Park your EV in a cool, shaded area, or use a garage whenever possible, as exposure to high temperatures can negatively affect battery longevity.

Are electric vehicles good in winter?

Electric vehicles (EVs) perform well in winter conditions, but there are some factors to consider. Here's a summary of how EVs and PHEVs fare during winter months:

  1. Range reduction: Cold temperatures can reduce the range of an EV due to increased battery energy consumption to maintain optimal operating temperature and power auxiliary systems, such as heating. In some cases, the range can decrease by 20 to 40% depending on the severity of the cold. Preconditioning your EV while it's still plugged in can help mitigate this issue, as it warms up the battery and cabin without using the battery's stored energy.
  2. Traction and stability: Many modern electric vehicles have good weight distribution and a low center of gravity due to the battery pack's placement, which can improve traction and stability on slippery surfaces. Additionally, some EVs feature advanced traction and stability control systems that can further enhance winter driving performance.
  3. Cold weather features: Some EVs come equipped with cold-weather features, such as heated seats, heated steering wheels, and thermal management systems, which can enhance comfort and battery performance in cold climates.
  4. Tire selection: Just like with any vehicle, equipping your EV with appropriate winter tires is crucial for maintaining traction and safety during winter months.

Overall, electric vehicles are suitable for winter driving, but it's essential to plan for the reduced range, keep the vehicle adequately charged, and use appropriate winter tires.

What to know when buying electric car?

When buying an electric car, it's essential to consider various factors to ensure the vehicle meets your needs and expectations. Here's a list of key points to keep in mind:

  1. Driving range: consider the EV's or hybrid's driving range on a single charge and evaluate whether it suits your daily commute and typical driving habits. Remember that factors like weather, driving conditions, and auxiliary systems usage can affect the actual range.
  2. Charging infrastructure: check the availability of charging stations in your area and along your regular routes. Also, consider your options for home charging, such as installing a dedicated Level 2 charger.
  3. Charging time: familiarize yourself with the time it takes to charge the EV at different charging levels (Level 1, Level 2, and DC fast charging) and plan your charging routine accordingly.
  4. Battery degradation: research the expected battery lifespan and degradation rate for the specific EV model you're interested in, as this will impact the vehicle's long-term performance and range.
  5. Incentives and rebates: look into available federal, state, or local incentives and rebates for purchasing an electric vehicle, as they can significantly reduce the overall cost. At the time of writing, the Canadian Federal government has an Incentives for Zero-Emission Vehicles (iZEV) Program (https://tc.canada.ca/en/road-t...). Provincial Government incentives are available in some provinces. In the U.S. here are some of the Federal tax incentives for buyers of EVs: https://www.fueleconomy.gov/fe....
  6. Vehicle features: evaluate the vehicle's features, such as regenerative braking, driving modes, and connectivity options, to ensure it meets your preferences and requirements.
  7. Maintenance and operating costs: consider the potential savings on fuel and maintenance costs associated with electric vehicles, as they typically require less maintenance than internal combustion engine vehicles.
  8. Resale value: research the resale value of the specific EV model, as some electric vehicles may have lower resale values due to battery degradation concerns or technological advancements.
  9. Test drive: Take a test drive to experience the vehicle's performance, handling, and comfort, and to familiarize yourself with the EV-specific features.
  10. Warranty: review the warranty offered by the manufacturer, particularly for the battery and electric powertrain components, to ensure you are comfortable with the coverage.

By taking these factors into account, you'll be well-equipped to make an informed decision when buying an electric car.

How to check electric car battery?

Checking the health and status of an electric car battery involves monitoring the battery's state of charge (SoC), capacity, and overall performance. Most electric vehicles (EVs) provide built-in monitoring systems that display the relevant information. Here's how you can check your electric car battery:

  1. On-board monitoring: most EVs come with a built-in display that shows the battery's state of charge, expressed as a percentage or remaining range (in miles or kilometers). This information is typically available on the main instrument cluster or infotainment screen.
  2. Smartphone apps: many electric vehicle manufacturers offer dedicated smartphone apps that allow you to monitor your EV's battery status remotely. These apps can display the state of charge, estimated range, and charging status, and may also provide notifications when charging is complete or interrupted.
  3. Diagnostic tools: for a more in-depth analysis of your electric car battery's health, some third-party diagnostic tools can access the vehicle's battery management system (BMS) data through the On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) port. These tools can provide detailed information on battery capacity, voltage, temperature, and other parameters, helping you assess the battery's overall condition.
  4. Professional inspection: if you suspect issues with your EV's battery or want a comprehensive evaluation, you can schedule an inspection at an authorized service center. Technicians can use specialized diagnostic tools to analyze the battery and provide recommendations for maintenance or replacement if necessary.

Regularly monitoring your electric car battery's status can help you detect potential issues early and ensure optimal performance and lifespan. Make sure to follow the manufacturer's recommendations for maintenance and care to prolong your battery's life.

Do electric cars need less maintenance?

Yes, full electric vehicles (BEVs) generally require less maintenance compared to traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. This is because EVs have fewer moving parts, which reduces the likelihood of mechanical failures and wear-related issues. Some of the key differences in maintenance requirements between EVs and ICE vehicles include:

  1. No oil changes: electric vehicles do not require engine oil changes, as they do not have internal combustion engines with many moving parts that need lubrication.
  2. Fewer cooling system services: EVs have simpler cooling systems for their batteries and electric motors, which typically require less maintenance compared to ICE vehicles' complex radiators and cooling systems.
  3. Reduced brake wear: electric cars often use regenerative braking, which captures energy during deceleration and feeds it back into the battery. This process reduces the wear on brake pads and rotors, resulting in less frequent brake maintenance.
  4. No exhaust system: EVs do not have exhaust systems or emissions-related components, eliminating the need for maintenance or replacement of mufflers, catalytic converters, and other exhaust parts.
  5. Simplified transmission: electric vehicles usually have a single-speed transmission or direct-drive system, which requires less maintenance compared to multi-speed transmissions in ICE vehicles.

However, there are still some maintenance tasks specific to electric vehicles that owners should be aware of:

  1. Battery health: regularly monitoring the battery's state of health and following the manufacturer's recommendations for charging and storage can help prolong its lifespan.
  2. Cooling system maintenance: while less frequent, EVs still require periodic checks and maintenance of their battery and motor cooling systems.
  3. Tire care: as with any vehicle, maintaining proper tire pressure, alignment, and rotation is essential for optimal performance and safety.
  4. Software updates: Electric vehicles may require periodic software updates to ensure optimal performance and address any potential issues.

Overall, electric vehicles tend to have lower maintenance costs and requirements compared to their ICE counterparts, contributing to a lower total cost of ownership over the vehicle's lifespan.

How to find electric charge points in Canada?

Finding electric car charging points in Canada is easy with the help of various tools and resources available to EV drivers. Here are some methods to locate charging stations in Canada:

  1. Smartphone apps: many apps can help you find charging points in Canada, such as PlugShare, ChargeHub, ChargePoint, and FLO. These apps allow you to search for charging stations based on location, connector type, and charging speed. They often include user-generated reviews and updates on charger availability and functionality.
  2. Charging network websites: A lot of charging network providers in Canada, FLO, and ChargePoint, have websites featuring interactive maps displaying their charging stations. These maps can help you plan your route and find compatible charging points along the way.
  3. Built-in navigation system: most electric vehicles come equipped with a built-in navigation system that can help you find charging stations nearby or along your planned route. These systems often provide real-time information on charger availability, compatibility, and charging speeds.
  4. Online Maps: general mapping services like Google Maps or Apple Maps have integrated charging station information, allowing you to search for nearby charging points or include them in your route planning.
  5. Local utility companies: some utility companies in Canada provide information on public charging stations in their service areas. This information may be available on their websites or through customer service representatives.

When planning a trip, it's essential to familiarize yourself with the charging connectors and speeds compatible with your electric vehicle to ensure you can use the available charging stations. Additionally, consider creating an account with the charging network providers operating in Canada, as some networks require an account for access and payment.

Do electric cars have a lower cost of ownership?

Yes, electric vehicles (EVs) generally have a lower total cost of ownership compared to internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, despite their higher initial purchase price. The lower cost of ownership for EVs can be attributed to several factors:

  1. Lower fuel costs: electricity is typically cheaper than gasoline or diesel on a per-mile basis, resulting in significant fuel cost savings over the lifetime of the vehicle.
  2. Lower maintenance costs: EVs have fewer moving parts and do not require oil changes, exhaust system maintenance, or complex cooling system services. They also experience reduced brake wear due to regenerative braking. These factors contribute to lower maintenance expenses compared to ICE vehicles.
  3. Incentives and rebates: many countries and states offer financial incentives, such as tax credits, rebates, or reduced registration fees, for purchasing electric vehicles. These incentives can help offset the higher initial cost of an EV.
  4. Reduced or eliminated emissions-related expenses: in some regions, EV owners may save on emissions-related costs, such as emissions testing or surcharges for driving in low-emission zones.
  5. Potential savings on tolls, parking, and charging: in certain areas, EVs may be eligible for reduced tolls, free parking, or preferred parking spaces, further contributing to lower ownership costs.

However, it's essential to consider factors like battery degradation, which may impact the vehicle's range and performance over time, and the cost of replacing the battery pack when evaluating the total cost of ownership. Additionally, electric vehicle charging equipment and installation costs should be taken into account.

Overall, the lower operating and maintenance costs associated with electric vehicles can lead to a lower total cost of ownership when compared to their ICE counterparts, making them an attractive option for many drivers.

Do electric car batteries need to be replaced?

Yes, electric car batteries will eventually need to be replaced, although they are designed to last for a long time. Most EV manufacturers offer warranties on their battery packs, typically ranging from eight to 10 years or 160,000 to 240,000 kilometers, whichever comes first. These warranties often guarantee a minimum retention of 70 to 80% of the original battery capacity.

Over time, EV batteries will degrade, causing a gradual decrease in capacity and driving range. Various factors, such as usage patterns, charging habits, and environmental conditions, can influence the rate of battery degradation.

Battery replacement can be expensive, but the cost has been decreasing over the years as battery technology improves and economies of scale come into play. Additionally, some manufacturers offer battery refurbishment or replacement programs that can help reduce the cost of a new battery pack.

To maximize your EV battery's lifespan, it's important to follow the manufacturer's recommendations for charging, maintenance, and storage. Proper care can help slow down battery degradation and prolong the time before a replacement is needed.

Are electric vehicles more expensive to buy?

Electric cars tend to have a higher upfront purchase price compared to their internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts. This is primarily due to the cost of the battery pack and other electric powertrain components. However, there are several factors that can help offset the higher initial cost:

  1. Incentives and rebates: Canada and the U.S. offer financial incentives, such as tax credits, rebates, or reduced registration fees, for buying electric vehicles. These incentives can help narrow the price gap between electric and ICE vehicles.
  2. Lower operating costs: electric vehicles generally have lower fuel and maintenance costs compared to ICE vehicles. Over the vehicle's lifespan, these savings can help compensate for the higher upfront cost.
  3. Economies of scale and technological advancements: as electric vehicle adoption increases and battery technology improves, the cost of producing electric cars is expected to decrease, making them more price-competitive with ICE vehicles.

It's also worth noting that there is a growing market for used electric vehicles, which can be a more affordable option for buyers interested in going electric.

If you're thinking about buying an electric car or hybrid, be sure to factor in the total cost of ownership, including fuel and maintenance savings, rather than just the initial purchase price. In many cases, the lower operating costs of electric vehicles can make them a more economical choice in the long run.