Battery electric vehicles and northern Ontario winters
Battery electric vehicles and northern Ontario winters
Sudbury EV experts are confident in the future of electric cars, but say northern Ontario needs more charging stations
With winter coming to Northern Ontario, people are getting back into the habit of warming up their cars every morning. It can last a few minutes and over a week, it can burn a lot of gas.
Not so if you drive an electric vehicle.
That’s one of their advantages, said Devin Arthur of Sudbury, who has been driving an electric vehicle (EV) for more than five years.
“There are many benefits to having your electric vehicle even in the winter … you don’t have to wait for the car to warm up because it uses electric heat,” he said. “As soon as you start the car, it gets hot. . . And while the car is still plugged in, you’re not using battery power, you’re using your home’s power.”
Arthur is definitely in favor of electric. He is the voice behind it Sudbury Electric Vehicle Associationan online group with the idea of electric cars and eventually phasing out gasoline and diesel vehicles.
Over the past year, more Ontarians, and certainly more Sudburians, have been hearing about the push for electric vehicles and how the province is preparing for it. Critical Minerals Strategy to encourage further mining for key battery minerals such as cobalt, lithium, copper and nickel.
At the same time, there has been talk that electric vehicles are still not strong enough to deal with the winter in Northern Ontario. So what does the consumer take away from this?
Mike Mayhew of Sudbury is another believer in electric vehicles. In addition to being one of Canada’s leading electric mining vehicle experts through his consulting company Mayhew Performancehe is also a Tesla owner who is a consumer and passionate about electric cars.
Mayhew said electric cars can and do work well in the winter, but drivers need to change their mindset a bit and no longer sit in a fuel-burning vehicle.
“The EV is a different vehicle,” Mayhew said. “And what you have to understand or realize is that the components that you use inside the vehicle, like your washer, your heater, your bulb heater, the radio are actually absorbing power and draining your battery while you’re driving, obviously the power is going to come from somewhere.”
Mayhew said it’s not much different than a combustion vehicle where you have to keep an eye on the gas gauge, especially if someone is driving fast and pushing their vehicle beyond a normal speed limit. Mayhew said a dead battery isn’t as physically obvious as an empty gas tank.
He added that if he’s driving to Toronto and uses a lot of energy in his Tesla, he knows he can pull into a charging station in Parry Sound or Barrie and get a full charge in less than 30 minutes, roughly. $7
Mayhew said it’s not that far from 10 minutes for a typical gas stop. He said the EV charging stop is a bit more relaxed. He said once the car is plugged in, he has time for a nature call, time for coffee and a sandwich, time to check messages on his phone “and then I can move on.”
Arthur noted that while concerns about the reliability of many in the North this winter were valid a few years ago, he said many people are hearing outdated information.
“And you see some older information, that EV doesn’t work in the winter or it doesn’t work in our land, like Northern Ontario. But the truth is, you know, it works.”
Arthur said there are hundreds of electric vehicle owners who drive year-round and have no problems, adding that cold weather can affect charging time and the total amount of charge when it’s really cold.
He said the automotive industry is working to improve battery chemistry, which means dealing with cold weather issues. He added that if an EV driver is stuck in a remote area for several hours, the EV is more efficient and will keep the car running longer than if you had to rely on a gasoline engine.
A key issue Arthur and Mayhew both commented on was the availability of charging stations for vehicles. Both charge the vehicle at home. In fact, Mayhew has a five-kilowatt off-grid solar panel to charge his car.
It’s a different story when you travel away from home. Mayhew, who often visits remote mines, said he hasn’t taken a Tesla north of Sudbury. He said he can’t always be sure he’ll find a place to charge the vehicle.
“And that’s one of the things I can say from experience is that there aren’t enough chargers for the number of vehicles on the market. So it’s a big challenge,” Mayhew said.
Arthur agreed. He said the EV Sudbury group is advocating for improvements.
“One of the things we’re constantly working on is infrastructure expansion, especially in northern Ontario,” Arthur said.
He added that the Ontario government recently announced 91 million dollar fund to expand the charging infrastructure throughout the province.
“And they asked us to submit a proposal for that. So in our proposal, we did exactly that, we highlighted specific roads, and then that was one of my main examples from Sudbury to Timmins. You know, it’s a big gap and especially. it’s cold. in the winter, and maybe the highways aren’t, you know, still plowed and there’s a lot of drag on the tires, etc. Driving that distance comfortably, or at least taking a break if the weather’s bad,” Arthur said.
He added that the province has not yet responded to the proposal EV Sudburyhe is hopeful
We haven’t heard back yet, but we’re waiting. We are delighted to be called upon for rural and underserved locations. So hopefully they’ll consider at least some of those northern spots.
Len Gillis covers mining and healthcare for Sudbury.com.
#Battery #electric #vehicles #northern #Ontario #winters