A recent study of over 16,000 EV owners in Canada has shown that common pre-purchase concerns about EV ownership – including driving range, cold weather performance and battery degradation – decline dramatically after purchase.
The study, commissioned by the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) and conducted by PlugShare Research, also found that Canadian EV drivers were worried about public charging infrastructure with more than one-third of those surveyed (36%) not having the confidence to drive their EV on a long road trip.
Other data showed that not many EV owners were yet prepared to make the commitment to fully 100% EV households with most Canadian EV drivers (67%) still owning an ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle, which they are more likely to use for longer journeys.
Ian Jack, vice president of public affairs at the Canadian Automobile Association, commented “We know EVs are gaining sales, but a lot of people still have questions. We think this research – into the actual experiences of EV drivers in Canada – sheds an important light into where the real pain points are, and where potential buyers can perhaps worry less.”
As a long-term EV owner here in Australia – I can certainly attest to range anxiety (the fear of running out of charge with no way to recharge in a reasonable time) disappears entirely with ownership of a longer range EV.
After all, for normal driving I only need to charge my Kona electric perhaps once every two or three weeks and if needed, a DC charge on longer trips takes the same time as a normal driving break.
Even with a short range EV (like my second car, a Mitsubishi iMiEV with around 70km of remaining driving range), range anxiety is better described as ‘range awareness’. Range awareness by the way being:
- Remembering to plug the car in each evening before the next day’s driving and
- before setting off, checking the remaining range gauge in case of the need to plan for a DC quick charge during the trip (in reality, no worse that stopping at a petrol station, but done way less often as almost all charging is done at home in the iMiEV’s down-time).
When talking to other EV owners, it certainly seems that my ‘Range Comfort’ in both long and short range EVs is the norm. However, Australia is still early in the EV adoption curve and similar empirical data collected from EV drivers here is thin on the ground.
Therefore, given Canada is comparable in population size and slightly larger in land area (as well as being slightly ahead of Australia in terms of EV adoption – for 2022: nearly 8% new car sales there as compared to 4-ish here), data from Canada is likely to give a good indication of what might be happening here now and into the near future.
Interestingly, that data shows that at around 8% of new car sales, Canadian EV drivers are already happy with their choice but are starting to worry that public charging infrastructure needs to catch up with the transition.
By report, those sentiments seem to be growing here too – but what we now need is some hard data from Australian EV drivers. That way we can use an evidence based approach to push our governments into better support for the EV transition.
Such data would inform what EV awareness and information campaigns are needed – including what they need to focus on regarding allaying potential fears – as well as inform the directions that government policy needs to take for addressing future charging needs BEFORE any bottlenecks start to develop.
Bryce Gaton is an expert on electric vehicles and contributor for The Driven and Renew Economy. He has been working in the EV sector since 2008 and is currently working as EV electrical safety trainer/supervisor for the University of Melbourne. He also provides support for the EV Transition to business, government and the public through his EV Transition consultancy EVchoice.