Couple’s EV drives like a race car

Maple Ridge couple will evaluate Kona’s performance over five years

Ask Candace Bradford what it’s like to drive an all-electric vehicle and she leaves no doubt about she feels about her new purchase.

“It is amazing. It is the best feeling ever,” said the Maple Ridge resident who got the keys to a new 2019 Hyundai Kona EV in February.

“The vehicle is wonderful to drive. It drives like a race car when you’re ready. It is so fast.”

While many buyers factor in the zero gasoline costs when calculating monthly car payments, the couple is leasing their vehicle for five years. They plan on crunching the numbers as the end of the lease approaches, she adds.

“We want to see were EVs are going and where they’re at in five years,” Candace said.

And she acknowledges, the $51,000 sticker price is expensive for some. But the $5,000 provincial rebate helped ease the pain, as did another rebate of $6,000 under the Scrap-It Program.

Because they bought the vehicle in February, they missed out on the $5,000 federal rebate that came into effect in May.

On the other hand, they did qualify for the Scrap-It program rebate of $6,000.

That rebate is available for those who trade in their old beaters, for electric vehicles. Providing the new vehicle has a Scrap-It tag, buyers can access that rebate, although Candace found not every new vehicle has a Scrap-It tag. The number of incentives available is limited, according to the Scrap-It website.

After driving the vehicle for five months, Candace has learned all the intricacies of the controls and discovered that using the heated seats, instead of the in-car heater, doesn’t drain the batteries.

Read more: Sales electric at Maple Ridge dealerships

She’s also learned that the actual range, 515 kilometres on a single charge, is higher than advertised.

That’s plenty of distance for Wayne’s commute into work in Burnaby. He can charge the vehicle while at work but the couple also has a Level 3 charger at home that uses a conventional plug although it takes more than a day to charge.

“This thing has been awesome. I haven’t had any range anxiety yet,” said Wayne.

So far, the vehicle is for use in Metro Vancouver, for daily errands and getting from work to home. They haven’t gone on any long trips but if they did, it would require some planning to ensure recharge stations were available. Meanwhile, their back-up vehicle is a conventionally powered Hummer H3.

Another bonus is the fact that EVs get free rides in the HOV lanes, allowing them to scoot by gasoline-gobbling vehicles choking in their own congestion.

“That’s a big bonus for people with EVs,” she said.

The other is the relief of just not having to worry about stopping at a gas station and wracking up $50 or $100 on a bank or credit card.

Another Maple Ridge resident though wanted a completely new type of vehicle and bought the Tesla Model 3. With $10,000 in incentives already applied, Jason Young paid about $55,000, with taxes all in.

“It’s a totally different driving experience,” he said Monday. “I chose it because it’s completely different.” Young likes the Tesla’s minimalist styling, saying the car has a “very different look and feel.”

Young had been looking and researching EVs for a few years and made the decision when the federal government rebates became available on May 1 because he didn’t want to miss out on the incentives.

When it came to actually ordering his vehicle, he did so on his phone while sitting on his couch. The Model 3 arrived about three weeks later.

Young still has a gas-powered SUV which he’ll use for vacations, but the Tesla, with the range of 386 kilometres, will be the commuter vehicle. It’s a definite change from the Dodge Ram pickup that he gave up, and which was costing up to $200 a week to fill up when gas prices spiked.

As far as charging goes, Young is going to upgrade his charger at home so it will recharge the vehicle overnight, making the daily commute worry free.

He plans on keeping the vehicle for 10 years and notes that the regenerative energy feature of the braking system in which the momentum of the vehicle is harnessed to charge the batteries, minimizes brake wear. And there are no oil or anti-freeze changes to worry.

Young appreciates the incentives available in B.C. “It’s so cool that B.C. is leading the pack.”

The federal and provincial rebates apply to plug-in hybrid cars as well, such as the Honda Clarity. Ryan Jones, with Marv Jones Honda, said the cars are selling as fast as he can bring them in, with orders now being taken for the 2020 models in the fall.

But he noted that electric vehicles weren’t selling as fast until both rebates took effect May 1.

The Clarity plug-in hybrid, offers that option of electric power in the city and gasoline out on the highway.

He noted though that buyers still worry about the range of EVs. If a family can only afford one primary vehicle that’s good for city commutes or long drives, they may consider a plug-in hybrid instead of a purely electric vehicle. “It’s kind of the best of both worlds.”

Jones said that Honda is usually tight-lipped about what its plans are, but “it’s an exciting time to be part of the automotive industry and be part of all the change that’s happening.”

Maple Ridge Coun. Gordy Robson recently made the switch to electric power, having recently purchased a used 2016 Nissan Leaf for city driving. “Right now, the way it drives and everything, I’m really impressed.”

It was imported from the U.S. by a Metro Vancouver dealership so he was spared the wait times.

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