Where Can You Drive an Electric Vehicle?
Where Can You Legally Drive an Electric Vehicle?
Anywhere you can drive your current vehicle. The modern electric vehicle is equipped with all the safety features required to operate on rural roads and highways alike. Early models were not highway capable, but those days are now long past and highway capable electric vehicles are produced by virtually every major automotive manufacturer.
Of course there may be some weird local rules somewhere, but for the vast majority of the population you can drive your electric vehicle for all of your daily activities.
Where is it Practical to Drive an Electric Vehicle?
It's practical to drive an electric vehicle in most large population centres. Range and charging rate are the most important factors to consider when deciding if an electric vehicle is appropriate for you in general or on a particular drive.
When buying a battery electric vehicle you will notice that the battery capacity is rated in kWh. In general the larger the the battery the more range that vehicle will have.
Average range across the vehicles currently offered in Canada is 200 km, while the median range is a much lower 131 km. The Tesla model S and model X currently skew the numbers on the higher side. Once the Chevy Bolt and Tesla 3 are released this will bring the average up over 230 km. From a day to day perspective, the range in electric vehicles is determined by current charge status, use of air conditioning and heating, outdoor temperature and weather, driving style, and age of the vehicle. Keep in mind that these rated ranges are based on the EPA test cycle and may not reflect what you actually experience. Some who live in northern territories, and drive long distances at high speed may see their range cut in half, while someone living in warm temperatures driving only in the city may see their range exceed the rating.
Typically, ev owners will charge their cars at home overnight. This is the most convenient way to do it, and most often the cheapest. Chargers at home are rated at 120 V, a standard wall outlet voltage, or 240 V like the large appliances in your house.
If you have a long commute and need to recharge at work before heading home or if you're on a road trip then you would look for one of the thousands of charging stations.
ChargePoint map of North American charging stations. Click on the image to go to ChargePoint to see stations in your area.
Tesla Home Charging Station
When you're looking for a charge on the road you will find them catagorized as Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. These levels correspond to the type of charging station and the rate of charge you will receive. Basically, level 1 is that 120 V station and takes a long time to charge. Level 2 is the 240 V station and charges much faster. Level 3 is the fastest, but not all cars are able to use them. If you want to know more about charging station technology it is covered on another page. You can find these ev charging stations through several websites and apps including ChargePoint and Tesla with pictures and links above. On the ChargePoint picture above, the numbers represent the number of charging stations in that area. You will also naturally start to notice charging stations at work, shopping centres, and around town as you begin to look for them. You might even discover some that aren't on any online map.
Regardless of where you plug in, when you do plug in, your electric vehicle will determine how much power is available and attempt to charge the battery as quickly as possible. The rule of thumb for non Teslas (and the future Chevy Bolt) is 24 hours to fully charge at a level 1 station, 4 hours at a level 2, and 30 minutes to 80% at a level 3. In terms of kilometers added per hour that would be roughly 7 km in an hour at level 1, 40 km in an hour at level 2, and 190 km in 30 minutes at level 3.
Tesla Supercharger Station
The Tesla supercharger network is currently the largest level 3 charging station network. Tesla Motors has also made a commitment to continue growing their network so if you're interested in driving a Tesla but have no superchargers in your area, check back frequently to see if they've added any in your area.