Charging up, laughing past pumps
Alexandra Tudose is proud to say, she’s overcome her anxiety over range.
It only took her about four days of driving her new Nissan Leaf and figuring out that it’s possible to drive an e-vehicle, follow her normal schedule and fit it all in between charging stops.
“I don’t even look at gas prices anymore,” she said. “I just laugh as I drive by.”
Tudose, a research technician in energy management and corporate planning for the District of Maple Ridge, wants to do as much as she can to live and work sustainably.
She started looking at her daily commuting and transportation patterns to see if an electric car with limited range would serve her needs.
The fact that she lives and works in town and would have limited daily needs for a car meant an electric vehicle would fit the bill.
After overnight charging of her vehicle at home, using a conventional wall plug, the vehicle’s batteries will be topped up to about 100 per cent.
A wall plug is considered a Level 1 charging station and takes about 20 hours to fully charge a battery from zero to 100 per cent.
And she doesn’t have to open her car door to figure that out. An app on her cellphone tells her exactly the state of the batteries.
Tudose adds that it’s not good practice to drain the battery completely, so topping up the battery along the way is a good strategy.
That’s now easier with 10 new charging stations that have been installed in Maple Ridge. One station is located in the public works yard, two are on Dewdney Trunk Road in front of municipal hall, three are in the underground parking lot beneath the municipal buildings and two are in Memorial Peace Park.
Money from Ministry of Environment’s $2.7-million Community Charging Infrastructure Fund paid for the stations with the result that more than 400 charging stations will be built across B.C.
One each is at the SPCA Community Animal Shelter and another at Fire Hall No. 1.
Two more are at Ridge Meadows Hospital.
Each station costs between $5,000 and $10,000 to build.
Those additions make electric driving easier for Tudose, who now has several stations near municipal hall, where she can recharge her batteries.
A key card gives her access to the power, which will cost about a $1 to fully charge.
“It takes about a dollar a charge, versus about $1 a litre,” of gasoline, she adds, smiling.
Normal range of the batteries is 160 kilometres, but that varies on driving conditions.
All told, she figures her monthly electrical bill will be about $10, although that could climb to $30 to $40 for people with longer commutes.
And while the Nissan Leaf is not yet suitable for long hauls on the highway, that day isn’t far off, as charging stations start popping up. She’s planning a trip to Comox on Vancouver Island and knows there’s a charging station in Qualicum Beach, where she can top along the way. Still, you have to be aware of your limitations, she says.
For longer trips, she’ll use a Toyota Prius, a hybrid which runs on both gas and electricity.
Tudose wants to contribute to sustainability and do the right thing and save money, but she’s also enjoying her new purchase and the attention it brings.
What’s nice is when older people see the car. “I can’t believe I’m seeing this in my lifetime,” she recalls one man saying.
She’s also savouring the other benefits, such as no maintenance. The only chores to worry about are tire rotation and filling the windshield washer reservoir.
You don’t realize the vicious cycle you’re in having to buy gas regularly with a gas station on every corner.
Why hasn’t it happened before? she asks.
“I think you know the answer.”