If you live in BC, you’re lucky enough to be surrounded by natural beauty, from forests, mountains, and the sea. So let’s keep BC beautiful by doing what we can to reduce our carbon footprint!
But where can the average British Columbian make the biggest impact? 40% of carbon pollution in Vancouver is caused by burning fossil fuels from vehicles. If you’re a driver in BC, it’s clear how you can make the biggest difference―by getting an electric vehicle (EV) as your next car.
But a lot of people have questions about making the leap to EV, especially when it comes to charging. Where can I find a reliable place to charge up? Can I take an EV on road trips? How much does it cost and can I afford it?
Believe it or not, charging an EVs is often just as simple as filling a car with gas―and a lot cheaper too! Here are 5 things you should know about charging an EV in BC.
Where can you find charging stations in BC?
If you’re worried about finding an EV charging station in BC, don’t be! According to BC Hydro, there are over 2,500 publicly available EV charging stations in BC. That’s actually more than the number of gas stations.
BC is served by several charging networks, including Flo, the largest in Canada, so there’s lots of choices. Most stations are concentrated in Metro Vancouver, particularly high-population areas like Vancouver and Burnaby. But you can find stations almost anywhere in the province, including towns and rest stops as far north as Prince Rupert, and all the way east to the Alberta border. There are lots of resources online from companies such as Plugshare or this map of stations from BC Hydro to help you.
If you want to make sure you have on-demand access to a charging station, installing your own private station in your home is an option too. Charging stations can be installed in a garage, driveway, or even in a parking space in a condo complex. The cost can be surprisingly affordable depending on the type of charger you buy and the installation work required for your home.
But if you’re in the Metro Van area, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a charging station near you.
EV range anxiety―how far can a charge take you?
One of the biggest reasons drivers hesitate to transfer to an EV is that they worry about their range. You don’t want to have to constantly charge your car to stay on the road, and being stranded somewhere without the fuel you need is every driver’s worst nightmare.
If you’re passionate about road trips, then there’s good news for you―EVs have a much higher travel range than most of us realize.
Most models being produced today can travel a minimum of 420 km on a single charge. And that’s a minimum―many of them can go much farther.
If you’re planning a road trip from Vancouver to Banff (about 845 km) you’d likely only need to stop to charge once (or maybe twice) depending on your specific vehicle. Most charging stations are in municipalities and rest stops, meaning they’ll be close to washrooms, food services, and other amenities that you’ll need on the way.
In other words, for a trip that long, you’d probably have a few stops planned anyway, so you can just charge up at the same time. You probably weren’t planning to drive all the way to Banff without a bathroom break!
And what kind of road trip doesn’t include sightseeing? Just put a little planning into your trip to choose stops that have an EV charging station nearby. Then you can stretch, snack, and sightsee while waiting for your car to charge.
Do you have to pay to charge EVs in BC?
Free fuel for your vehicle? Sounds like a fairytale! Well, you may be surprised to learn that you often can charge up your EV for free! It all depends on what kind of charging station you want to use, the network it’s on, and who owns the station.
There are several different charging networks operating in the province, and they each have their own way of doing things.
Some networks like Flo require you to join their network as a member to access their stations. You can use their app or receive a loadable card to access the station while doubling as your method of payment. Others may let you just tap with a credit card.
But some networks, like ChargePoint, sell their stations to individual owners. Some owners may decide to charge for using their station, while many others offer power for no charge at all!
BC Hydro says that most of BC’s level 2 stations are completely free to use, so you should be able to find one near you. But it’s unlikely that you’ll find a free fast-charging station. Also, don’t be surprised if the free charging stations are the first ones to fill up, so you might have to wait for your turn. While there are free charging options, joining a paid network can give you the flexibility and convenience to charge up faster, and at more locations.
How much does EV charging cost in BC?
When considering switching to a whole new type of vehicle, it’s normal to feel uncertain, especially when it comes to long-term costs like fueling up. And EVs are still pretty new to most of us, so it’s hard to guess what exactly it will cost. But charging an EV in BC is incredibly affordable, regardless of what vehicle model you have.
EV charging fees are based on the time you spend charging, either on a per minute or per hour basis. The exact rate can vary a lot from station to station, which isn’t surprising when they start out completely free.
The price will often be higher for faster charging stations. It can also vary from network to network, with some charging a bit more or less than others. But typically, the rate can range from just a few dollars per hour, up to about $20 for the fastest charge. Some stations may also charge a small flat fee to access the station on top of the hourly rate.
Most newer EV models only need an hour or less to charge up, so you’ll likely pay $20 to $25 per charge at most. Again, it all comes down to the network you use, the station’s charging speed, and how long your vehicle needs to charge up.
And with free charging options available, you won’t even need to pay for every charge. It doesn’t get more affordable than that.
Which one is cheaper: gas or EV?
Understandably, most people’s biggest concern when switching to EV is which one is going to be cheaper, both in long term costs and upfront prices. We’ve already talked about how affordable it is to charge an EV (especially when it’s free) so you’ve probably guessed that driving an EV is a lot cheaper than a traditional gas vehicle. And you’d be right!
If you look at the long term costs, there’s no comparison. EV is by far the cheaper option. According to BC Hydro, EV drivers in BC pay around 75% less in fuel costs. That’s a difference of thousands of dollars a year for some drivers. EVs also have fewer mechanical parts to work with, and they tend to last longer too, so you’ll also save money on maintenance costs.
The downside is the upfront costs of buying an EV are usually higher. There are a few reasons for that. First, EV technology is still pretty new, so some models can be pricey. Second, because they are so new, there are a lot fewer used EVs on the market which may make the price of a gas vehicle look tempting in comparison.
But don’t get discouraged! As EVs become more common and manufacturers get more efficient, the upfront cost will only get more affordable over time.
If you want to get on the road in an EV right now, but the current prices are a bit out of your budget, there are plenty of incentive programs to help you bridge the gap. One of them is right here at Vancity.
Get in an EV faster with Vancity
Vancity is committed to the environment. That’s why we want to help you get in an EV.
The Vancity Planet-Wise Transportation Loan offers financing options for almost any planet-friendly vehicle. You can put it towards an EV, a hybrid car, an ebike, and more. You can even use it to install a charging station at home! The loan is separate from federal and provincial rebates so they can be used together in conjunction.
It’s totally flexible too. You can borrow as little as $1,500 with no maximum loan, and there are multiple repayment options, including terms up to 10 years for repayment. Plus get a low interest rate of Vancity Prime rate + 1%. And if you’re replacing your old car with an EV, you’ll be saving so much cash, you’ll be able to pay it off that much faster.
Learn more about our Planet-Wise Transportation Loan and see how you can get into an EV faster with Vancity.