What do consumers want to know about EVs?

Canadians are warming up to electric vehicles, but they have numerous questions when they arrive at the dealership. Here’s your primer on how best to answer them.

When you run a nationwide platform dedicated to electric-car charging, you end up fielding thousands of questions on the topic every year. Over time, it becomes apparent which types of answers best resonate with prospective EV buyers.

For this month’s column, I’ve transcribed a conversation I had with someone who had just started thinking about purchasing an EV in the future. Right off the bat, this person asked three of the questions we often hear the most from future EV buyers — and which are likely being asked more often in Canadian dealerships these days, thanks to the federal government’s $5,000 EV purchase incentive.

Potential Future EV Owner: If I had an EV, how long would it take for me to charge it?

Simon’s answer: It typically takes me three to five seconds to charge our EV.

The process goes like this: I arrive at home. I hit the car’s charging port release button. I step out of the car. I grab the cable from my charging station a few feet away, outside, next to our garage door. I plug it in the car’s charging port. Done. Three to five seconds. Then I go inside for dinner and family time.

What’s funny is that I repeat the same operation for another device when I walk in the house. I grab my cell phone from my pocket, and plug it in. Done! And it takes three to five seconds in this case too!

A majority of EV drivers in Canada today use the “garden hose” approach for most of their charging needs. The technical term for it is “Level 2 Charging”. Typically, this is done at home and/or at work.

Potential Future EV Owner: I never thought about how similar EVs were to my cell phone when it comes to charging. I like that! But I hear there are different speeds at which EVs can charge. How does that work?

Simon: Think of your car’s battery as a bucket, and think of the charging as filling the bucket gradually with water.

You could fill it slowly but steadily by placing the bucket under a dripping faucet at home. Leave it there long enough, and it will be full.

You could also use your garden hose to fill it up, which would be faster than the leaking faucet. Or, you could go to the fire station and have the firemen fill it up in no time with a high-output fire hose.

As simple as these examples are, they’re close to the three types of EV charging typically found in Canada. Some people recharge by just plugging the vehicle into a 120V outlet, using the portable charging cable provided with every EV. That’s the “leaky faucet” approach. The technical term for it is “Level 1 Charging”.

A majority of EV drivers in Canada today use the “garden hose” approach for most of their charging needs. The technical term for it is “Level 2 Charging”. Typically, this is done at home and/or at work. This type of charging station is typically plugged into a 240V outlet, the same way an oven or a clothes-drier or a welder would be.

Last but not least, the “firehose approach” is analogous to the fastest type of charging available. The technical term for it is “DCFC”, which stands for Direct Current Fast Charging. These DCFC stations tend to be in public locations, often along highways. But just as you would not have a high-pressure fire hose in your garage, you can’t install these at home.

Potential Future EV Owner: Okay, so I’ll be charging at home, overnight, most of the time. Got it. But how can I find where those “firehose” type of stations are if I’m going on a trip? And what about the “garden hoses”, are some of those available publicly too?

Simon: You may use a gas-station app to find their fueling sites, or maybe an aggregator app (ex: Gas Buddy). You can do exactly the same kind of searches for charging stations.

You can either search for specific brands (there are several) on their own sites, or you can use an aggregator app like ChargeHub, for example, to see them all on a single map. You’ll find there are more than 1,300 of these public DCFC (“fire hose”) charging stations in Canada today — and more come online each month.

There are close to 10,000 “garden hose” (aka: Level 2) charging stations publicly available in Canada. Better yet, many are actually free to use. Some may cost around $1/hr, which typically equates to about 40 km worth of range for your EV.

Educating consumers: one at a time

I hope this conversation gives you some insight on how you can handle key questions about EV charging from consumers, without getting too technical.

In my next article, I’ll dive into some Dos and Don’ts of public charging, and how they apply to dealerships specifically. In the meantime, if you ever have questions regarding EVs or EV charging, don’t hesitate to reach out to me personally, or to any ChargeHub team member!

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