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As recently as 15 years ago, electric vehicles (EVs) were niche oddities, driven only by the most enthusiastic early adopters. In those days, EVs didn’t have much range, they had little room for cargo, and their looks left much to be desired. As time went on and technology improved, however, EVs became better in every way. Now, thanks to a raft of advancements across the board, EVs can do almost anything an internal combustion engine (ICE)-powered vehicle can do, and have also become some of the nicest-looking cars on the road.
With the exception of pickups and full-sized SUVs (which will become widely available in the next few years) there are now great EV options across pretty much every make and type of vehicle. If you’re considering one of these for your next vehicle, here are some of the chief benefits you’ll enjoy:
Fun behind the wheel
There are two kinds of drivers out there: those who really love to get the most out of their vehicle’s features, and those who are happy to have a comfortable and reliable way to get from A to B. EVs are a great choice for either one of these drivers, but if you’re in the former category, you’ll get plenty of enjoyment out of an EV. Thanks to the wide array of new technologies inside, you can nerd out on your energy efficiency analytics, take advantage of smart self-parking features, or turn your vehicle into a mobile office with its advanced connectivity features. There’s also the added benefit of EVs’ snappy acceleration, which isn’t great for energy efficiency but can still be fun for zipping around in city traffic.
Save money over the long haul
Despite the government rebates available to lower the cost of EVs for Canadian drivers, their initial cost is still higher than equivalent ICE-powered vehicles. Also, since EVs are so new (and evolving so quickly) it’s hard to know for sure what they will cost over their lifetimes. It is, however, generally believed that EVs are cheaper to run in the long haul. Part of this is due to the fact that EVs have fewer moving parts than ICEs (no engine means no spark plugs to replace and no oil to change) and thus they have fewer regular maintenance needs. Yet the main savings will be at the pump – your running costs will depend on the price of energy where you live, as well as how efficiently you drive, but you can expect to spend about 1/8 as much on electricity as you do on gas in a comparable vehicle.
Using electricity when it’s cheapest
Regardless of the cost of energy where you live, it always makes sense to take advantage of off-peak rates to run your dishwasher, dryer, and other energy-hungry appliances. One of the greatest things about electric cars is that they are designed to take advantage of off-peak hours, saving you money (and reducing strain on the grid) in the process. Most new EVs, in fact, can be programmed to charge during off-peak hours, leaving you with a full battery in the morning and a lower power bill at the end of the month.
Curb your C02
Generally speaking, EVs are better for the planet than ICEs because they don’t produce any greenhouse gases. This is one of the most attractive features of EVs to buyers who are trying to reduce their carbon footprints, and a great advantage to EVs in general. The only caveat to this is if electricity in your area is generated by burning coal or other natural gas, in which case your overall carbon savings will be lower.
Better driving habits
Want to learn how to be a better driver? Owning an EV is a great excuse. Similar to adopting energy-efficient habits at home when you start paying your own utility bills, owning an EV makes you much more conscious of how much energy you are using on the road. From learning how to accelerate more gently and make use of regenerative braking, to keeping a constant and moderate speed on the highway, EVs are great tools for making drivers more aware of their driving habits.
Jeremy Freed is a freelance writer and editor based in Toronto. His writing about fashion, travel, food and design appears in Sharp, Harry and re:Porter magazines, among many others.