by Lori Straus
EV charging stations are popping up everywhere. Although an EV car will drive on average 200-400 km on one charge (depending on the model and the weather and road conditions), you’ll find stations along many major routes from Windsor to Kenora. In fact, Electric Autonomy reports a 15% increase in the number of charging stations in Canada between March 2020 and January 2021. Here’s the 2021 update on EV charging stations in Ontario.
How Charging Stations for Electric Vehicles Work
Charging an EV on the road may seem like a very foreign procedure. In some ways, though, it’s actually similar to filling a gas tank. You pull up your EV to a charger, plug it in, charge the battery, and then pay. However, there are differences that may take some getting used to if you’re new to the EV world:
- Whereas the nozzle on the hose from a gas tank has long been standardized and fits any car, the plug from an EV vehicle to a charging station has several options. When you buy an electric vehicle, learn about how it charges and ensure there’s a network that will support your driving itinerary.
- Payment for an EV charge can be done through any number of proprietary apps. However, you shouldn’t need an app to charge your vehicle.
- Time: filling your gas tank takes about 10 minutes from the moment you pull up to when you leave. Charging an EV battery takes much longer. DC charging stations and Tesla’s SuperCharge stations fill a battery from 0% to 80% in 30-45 minutes, and that’s the fastest you’ll find out there right now. However, innovations are happening every day, and charging speeds should improve soon.
Finding Charging Stations
You have several options when searching for public charging stations:
Any of those websites will help you locate the nearest station for you to charge your EV. However, do check their maps before you leave for your road trip, just to be sure you plan your route so you have enough charging options along the way.
One thing we can say with certainty, though: Canada’s EV charging network is growing by the month. If you’ll soon be in the market for a new car and are considering an electric vehicle, check these maps every so often for updates.
Gas Companies See the EV Light
Thanks in part to government subsidies to build an EV charging network across Canada, gas companies are beginning to offer EV charging stations.
Petro-Canada promises coast-to-coast charging for those who want to take a cross-Canada trip. These stations are mostly on major highways, including the 401 and TransCanada Highway. Petro-Canada offers a DC fast charging station roughly every 250 km. Each station has two connectors: CCS (mostly North American and European cars) and CHAdeMO (mostly Asian cars).
Canadian Tire announced in 2020 a rapid expansion of EV chargers across Canada. Although the pandemic has slowed plans down, the company is still pushing forward. Canadian Tire is working with FLO, Tesla, and Electrify Canada (a subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group) to make it happen.
The Cost of Charging an Electric Car
In a blog post last year, we detailed the costs of charging an electric car vs. one that drives on gas. Electric came up cheaper by far. Prices at charging stations will vary, depending on what kind of charger you’re using. Using a Level 2 charger (240 volts), for example, may cost you nothing, but you can’t fully recharge while you’re at a restaurant for dinner. Petro-Canada’s website says it charges 33¢/minute of charging on its fast-charge network in Ontario.
Although the cheapest will always be charging at home, charging on the road will still cost less than filling up on gas in the long run.
So although it may take time to get used to charging an EV on the road, the benefits to the environment and your wallet far outweigh the learning curve to changing to EV.