January 20, 2019

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Electric vehicles worth it over time: study

A new report suggests electric vehicles (EV) are at or near the tipping point for making an economic case for themselves, even in provinces without generous taxpayer-funded incentives.

The study by the 2 Degrees Institute, a pro-environment think tank, analyzed comparable gas and electric versions of the Kia Soul and the Volkswagen Golf, and examined the relationship between increased purchase price and reduced cost of operation.

What the report doesn’t suggest, however, is an economic argument for choosing an electric vehicle over some of the least-expensive gas vehicles on the market. The report assumed buyers would choose between vehicles with roughly the same amenities.

The report also made no attempt to monetize intangible benefits to electric-vehicle ownership, such as reduced carbon footprint, improved driving experience or not losing time to service appointments, although the reduced servicing costs of EVs was included in calculations of savings.

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A new report suggests electric vehicles (EV) are at or near the tipping point for making an economic case for themselves, even in provinces without generous taxpayer-funded incentives.

The study by the 2 Degrees Institute, a pro-environment think tank, analyzed comparable gas and electric versions of the Kia Soul and the Volkswagen Golf, and examined the relationship between increased purchase price and reduced cost of operation.

What the report doesn’t suggest, however, is an economic argument for choosing an electric vehicle over some of the least-expensive gas vehicles on the market. The report assumed buyers would choose between vehicles with roughly the same amenities.

The report also made no attempt to monetize intangible benefits to electric-vehicle ownership, such as reduced carbon footprint, improved driving experience or not losing time to service appointments, although the reduced servicing costs of EVs was included in calculations of savings.

"Have EVs won the economic argument? I would say absolutely," said Ryan Logtenberg, director at the 2 Degrees Institute and one of three authors of the report.

The institute calculated a 10-year savings of nearly $25,000 in Manitoba, set against the $7,860 price difference between the VW eGolf — an EV — and similarly equipped gas-powered Golf and the $12,850 difference between the Kia Soul and Kia Soul EV.

For Manitoba, the report assumed annual maintenance costs of $831 and annual fuel costs of $2,207 for gasoline vehicles, and $438 maintenance and $342 electricity costs, for an annual savings of $2,259. (The annual savings do not add up to the 10-year savings exactly due to an assumed inflation rate of two per cent per year.)

The report also suggests maintenance savings could be even greater, as the original calculation used, provided by analytics company Vincentric, did not consider savings to brake-pad wear from the use of regenerative braking.

The province with the biggest savings was, arguably, Quebec, where the provincial rebate means the VW eGolf is $104 cheaper than the gas version. In B.C., drivers could save as much as $3,140 on the purchase price of the eGolf if the EV rebate was combined with participation in the province’s Scrap-it program, which offers an additional $6,000 to trade a gas vehicle for an EV.

Missing from the calculation was any mention of the cost of installing a Level 2 charging station. Volkswagen Canada sells chargers made by Quebec-based Flo for $1,335, not including installation. Logtenberg said the study ignored Level 2 chargers, focusing on the costs of using the supplied Level 1 charger, which plugs into a standard 120-volt outlet. Level 2 chargers require a 240-volt outlet (similar to your electric range or electric clothes dryer), which could add another $1,000 to the price.

"I’ve owned an EV for 21/2 years and I charged my vehicle at home using a standard receptacle for the first two years, and we were doing over 20,000 kilometres per year," he said.

"I only upgraded to a Level 2 this past spring because the B.C. government was offering a generous rebate."

kelly.taylor@freepress.mb.ca

Kelly Taylor

Kelly Taylor
Copy Editor, Autos Reporter

Kelly Taylor is a Winnipeg Free Press copy editor and award-winning automotive journalist. He's been a member of the Automobile Journalists' Association of Canada since 2001.

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