The Charge North EV Discovery Tour was in 100 Mile House Tuesday morning, letting residents test drive an electric Ford Mustang Mach-E.
Charge North is a community-driven program supported by BC Hydro and funded by Northern Development Initiatives Trust, the Province of B.C., and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
“We are here on behalf of the district along with over 30 other communities who in collaboration are installing a network of 58 level two electric vehicle chargers across central and northern B.C.,” said Danielle Wiess, electric mobility expert for Community Energy Association and project manager for Charge North.
Level two chargers are known as a stop and stay and are more suitable for drivers who might want to get a long lunch or take a walk around town taking two to four hours to charge. Level three, like the ones at the South Cariboo Visitor Centre, simulates the gas station experience for those on longer journeys who want to charge and go.
EV Ambassador Nancy Thorn of Likely was at the South Cariboo Visitor Centre along with her Kia EV6 GT-line for the event.
“This is one of the first 200 cars in Canada,” she said. “We ordered it in October of last year and it arrived in March. Everybody got the same car, it was $62,000.”
How electric vehicles will handle Cariboo winters was among the topics discussed at the event.
Cold weather is going to be a bit of an experiment, said Thorn. This is a new vehicle so she will probably lose about 50 percent in range. Her normal range is around 420 km on a charge and this will drop to about 200 km in -40 temperatures.
Driving habits and where you live are important considerations when shopping for electric cars, Wiess said. A person who only drives a few times a week will have a different need than a courier. Battery consumption also differs driving a straight stretch of highway versus a twisty road with lots of hills.
Thorn’s car comes with a full load package. One of the features gives her the ability to plug into her battery charger when it is attached to the charging port of the vehicle and run something like a mini fridge. She points out that it is not a fair comparison to an average vehicle as “it is like buying the pick-up truck that’s fully loaded.”
Electric vehicles offer tourism and economic development initiatives as they encourage people to stop and spend time in a community, said Wiess. According to case studies, they are more fun to drive, offer a smooth ride and due to how the motor and battery function actually have higher torque and acceleration.
Some people find them to be enjoyable to drive as they are so quiet, something that concerns Garry Easton of 100 Mile House.
It makes sense economically, he said, but worries that people will not be aware he is coming down the street.
“They’re so quiet,” he said, “especially in this town. Everybody just walks across the road now.”
The network is being installed now and the chargers are on order with the hope that most, if not all of them will be installed by the time the snow falls, said Wiess. The project has been a bit delayed by COVID-19, “So we’re really excited to have it come to fruition finally.”