10 things to know before buying an electric vehicle

Canada Life - Aug 30, 2023
There's a big difference between owning a battery-powered vehicle and a gas-fueled vehicle. Here are some things to consider before making a switch to an electric vehicle
battery-powered vehicle

If you’re looking to save on gas, become ecofriendly or even just interested in new technology, you might already be considering buying an electric vehicle (EV). There's however a big difference between owning a battery-powered vehicle and a gas-fueled vehicle. Here are some things to consider before making a switch to an electric vehicle.  

Types of electric vehicles  

There are different types of electric vehicles and some of them might be better for your driving needs than the others.   

Battery electric vehicles (BEV)  

Unlike regular vehicles with gasoline engines, electric vehicles are powered solely by an electric battery that needs to be charged. They can be charged at home or at public charging stations. These vehicles are typically ideal for shorter commutes.  

Hybrid electric vehicles (HEV)  

HEVs have both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. While driving, the vehicle automatically switches between the electric motor and the combustion engine without the driver doing anything. Charging is also done through regenerative braking, happens when energy from speeding vehicle is stored for reuse when it slows down. The HEV is best for medium to long trips.  

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) 

This is similar to a hybrid electric vehicle. It also has an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. However, alongside the self-charging mechanism of hybrid vehicles, it also has a plug-in option that allows you to charge your car and run your vehicle on electric power alone. According to Auto trader, PHEVs can travel up to around 64 kilometers on electric power alone. It can also switch to the internal combustion engine once your battery runs down. This makes it ideal for long trips.  

Other factors to consider  


Since electric vehicles need to be charged, charging is an important thing to consider before buying an EV. According to Think Insure, an auto and home insurance company, the average cost of charging an electric vehicle in Canada is around $277 per year. Electric vehicles can be charged at home if you have a charging outlet at home, or at a public charging station if you don't. There are websites and apps to help you find the charging stations closest to you. It takes anywhere between $500 to $5000 to install a charging outlet in your home, depending on if it's a Level 1, 2 or 3 charger and other factors.

There are two main types of EV chargers - alternating current (AC) chargers and direct current (DC) chargers. AC chargers come in Level 1 and Level 2 formats. Level 1 chargers are the slowest while Level 2 chargers are mid-range. DC chargers, also known as fast chargers, are a Level 3 charger. These levels determine how long it will take to charge your vehicle and how much electricity it’ll consume.  


Buying an electric car can be expensive. According to Scotia Bank, the cost of a new electric vehicle in Canada ranges between $32,000 and $160,000, depending on what type and brand you choose. While Tesla easily comes to mind when you think electric vehicles, there are other brands like Toyota, Hyundai, BMW, KIA, Nissan, etc. Like for other vehicles, there are also financing options for electric vehicles. 


Because some electric cars might be costly to replace or repair, premiums for electric vehicles might be higher than that for fuel vehicles. Some insurers however offer discounts for a brand-new electric car. The premiums could vary by insurer. It might be a good idea to get a quote from your insurance company before buying an electric vehicle.  


The maintenance cost of an electric vehicle is less expensive than that of a fuel vehicle. According to Consumer Reports, EV owners could save between $2,500 and $3,600 in operating and maintenance costs for every 15,000 miles they drive. The report also found that EV owners are spending 60% less to power their vehicle with electricity instead of gasoline.  


To encourage zero emission in Canada, there are federal, provincial and private incentives for purchasing a zero-emission vehicle (ZEV). Electric vehicles are considered as zero-emission vehicles. Federally, some electric vehicles are eligible for up to $5,000 in rebates. Only new ZEVs are eligible for the federal incentive. This incentive is usually applied at the point-of-sale by the dealership.

In Quebec, in addition to federal incentives, Quebecers may be eligible for rebates of up to $8,000 on EVs that cost less than $60,000.

British Columbia’s Go Electric program allows BC residents to get rebates between $500 to $4000 based on household income.

You can do some self-research to see what incentives might be available for your EV purchase.  


With many drivers looking to make a switch from battery powered vehicles to electric vehicles, there has been a shortage in the availability of these vehicles. There are backorders ranging anywhere between one to four years. In an interview, Ikechukwu Eze, an Uber driver, said he has been trying to buy an electric vehicle and after reaching out to a number of dealerships, the earliest time he can buy a brand-new electric vehicle is in six months.  


As a resident of Canada, you should consider the winter weather when thinking of buying an electric car. According to the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), it’s possible to drive electric vehicles in the winter but drivers should make sure they have double the range that the trip would normally take in non-winter weathers. For example, if you generally drive 40 kilometers a day, you’ll be fine with 100 kilometers total range for the same trip in the winter. You should also get an electric vehicle model that has thermal management to protect your battery from dying faster in cold temperatures. This can help reduce the distance you can drive before needing to charge.  

What next?  

After looking into these different factors and comparing them to your current needs and budget, you can also speak to me to see how buying an electric vehicle fits into your overall financial plan.