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LETTER: Sustainable Orillia weighs in on local EV debate

In Climate Change
Mar 22nd, 2023
‘Those of us who have transitioned to an EV will never again consider an ICE vehicle,’ letter writer says
From From OrilliaMatters, Mar 22 ,2023
Photo: David VanAlstyne sits behind the wheel of his electric vehicle during a Sustainable Event at Orillia Square mall. File Photo

While there have been some excellent letters in response to a recent letter by Mark Coles about his negative experiences with his electric vehicle, we at Sustainable Orillia felt, as a local organization promoting sustainability, we needed to weigh in on the discussion. His experience with EVs has been so entirely different from ours.

Several members of Sustainable Orillia are owners of hybrid or battery electric vehicles (BEVs), and we have been very happy with our EVs for more than five years. Accordingly, we’d like to take this opportunity to address some of Mr. Coles’ points.

1. Hybrids and BEVs: Hybrids, whether plug-in or gasoline powered, are designed to run on battery power for the first 20-80 km, depending on the make and model, and then they switch to gas when the battery becomes depleted. This means that the daily driving needs of most hybrid owners will be met with the battery alone, leading to regular savings and fewer carbon emissions. Those who commute long distances or travel more than the daily average will be better off with a full BEV. There are many references online that compare EVs and internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. In almost every case, the total cost of ownership is the same or less for the BEV.

2. Charging convenience on the road: The length of time it takes to charge an electric vehicle really depends on the level of the charger and the ability of the car to accept a charge. Typically, our experience of charging at a Level 3 charger is that it takes 25-40 minutes. Charger locations can easily be found on apps like PlugShare and ChargeHub, which list hundreds of charger locations along with information on cost, capacity, and availability. We have never experienced the problems described by Mr. Coles in locating charging stations. Charging networks are rapidly increasing in number and capacity across the country and around the world.

3. Steering wheel malfunction: Having a Tesla steering wheel detach is a serious issue that The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into. They have opened a preliminary investigation into 120,000 Tesla Model Y vehicles after only two reports of steering wheels falling off while driving, a problem which was attributed to a manufacturing defect. Undoubtedly this issue will be rectified. It is certainly not the first time that a particular make or model of vehicle has faced a recall for a potentially serious defect.

4. Chevrolet Volts: The first Chevy Volt was rolled off the assembly line late in 2010. Poor sales caused GM to stop production in February 2019, not car fires.

5. Battery life and recycling: Companies like Li-Cycle in Toronto can recover up to 95 per cent of all constituent materials found in lithium-ion batteries. There is also a market for used EV batteries as they typically have enough capacity for repurposing in electrical storage components after an EV is scrapped.

While there is research into “nuclear” batteries, this applies to the generating of thermionic power for spacecraft. It is not a realistic consumer option for passenger vehicles. There are many emerging technologies in battery developments that will further improve and lower the cost and impacts of EV batteries.

6. Hydrogen fuel cells: Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCEVs) like the Toyota Mirai and Honda Hydrogen Fuel-Cell CR-V are not yet a consumer option except where hydrogen refilling is available, such as in California. There is not enough data to say they will go “off like a bomb” in an accident, as Mr. Coles states. Motorbiscuit.com concludes: “Yes, hydrogen can be dangerous if misused. But technology has come a long way, and the chances of an FCEV (hydrogen fuel cell EV) catching on fire randomly aren’t that high . . . . Fuel cells may not be the perfect solution to reduce carbon emissions, but they’re a step in the right direction.”

From our research—and our lived experience—we cannot agree with Mr. Coles that the best option is to stick with a fossil-fuel vehicle. Those of us who have transitioned to an EV will never again consider an ICE vehicle. The simple economics of BEVs and the need to tackle climate change make the transition necessary and practical.

For more information on EVs, please visit Sustainable Orillia’s EV Information Portal. The EV industry is rapidly evolving, and we try to keep our information there up-to-date.

David VanAlstyne
EV driver and member of Sustainable Orillia

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