As gas prices climb, many Canadians are wondering if now is the time to consider an electric vehicle. While there are currently more EV offerings than ever, there are also several infrastructure issues to be fixed. Kim Parlee talks to Petrina Gentile, automotive journalist at the Globe and Mail, about the electric vehicle market and what new buyers need to think about.
- Oh, it's great to be here, Kim.
- I know you've got a list of cars right now, but I'm curious. Before we get into the actual cars, which I know everybody wants to hear about, tell us about where the EV market is right now. I mean, eventually, no gas cars are going to be sold in Canada, so you're going to have to make the switch. But are you seeing a big uptick right now with the prices?
- Yes, definitely with the prices there's more interest and more people buying. In Q1 of 2022, it was about 6% of new car sales were full battery electric vehicles. It doesn't sound like much, but it is more than we've ever seen.
And because of the gas prices, because of the new offerings, because more vehicles are being eligible for the $5,000 federal EV rebate-- which brings down the price-- you're seeing more interest. So you'll definitely see a little bit of an uptick in Q2 as well. But keep in mind, Kim, there are a lot of challenges here with the semiconductor chip shortage. Some of these vehicles may take months, if not years, to get your hands on.
- Yeah. I've heard stories of people ordering and, again, it's years what I'm hearing now. Can you just kind of-- we'll get to some specific cars in a second, but maybe the pros and cons. And the things you need to think about when you're buying an EV.
- Well, when you're buying an EV you definitely want to look at the range, because some vehicles aren't necessarily built for everyone. Consumers often complain that there is a lack of range. Right now we're in the 300 to 400 kilometer range. And that may sound great. It may sound like a lot.
But you have to keep in mind, in the cold, frigid temperatures of Canada, when you're driving at cruising speeds, and you have the heater on, and the heated seats on, and the radio on, all of that depletes the battery. So, all of a sudden, 400 kilometers might be more realistically 320 kilometers. So keep that in mind.
And also really consider about upgrading the electrical system that you have at your home so that you have a 240 volt outlet, like a dryer outlet, where you can plug it in. Because that's going to save you a lot of time with charging, and the headaches of trying to find a public charging station. Because the lack of infrastructure is also another issue holding back EV owners.
- Yeah. Those electric charging stations are few and far between. I know they're popping up in Toronto, where I am, but there's still just a couple of them. Let's get into some names and some new ones. And the first one we want to talk about is Lexus. They have their first all electric vehicle.
- Right. This is called the RZ, and I just got a glimpse of this last week in Texas. And, in person, it's quite attractive. It has those Lexus design cues on the front, but of course, this is all electric. It's all wheel drive, and it has a range of about 360 kilometers.
Inside it's very minimalistic, kind of futuristic, and filled with materials that are sustainable-- you know, bio based materials in the ultrasuede. This is all part of that environmental movement. We don't know the price of this yet, but this will go on sale later this year.
KIM PARLEE: And if you want to continue on the upscale side, BMW has a new one out. And what is this one, this is the i7?
- That's right. And this is based on BMW's flagship sedan, their 7 Series. So their 7 Series is that huge sedan. Now it's all electric. It has a range of about 500 kilometers.
What's neat about this, though, is BMW is not putting all of their eggs in one basket. They are not just doing all electric.
They're going to still have a V8 version of this vehicle, it's just going to be more fuel efficient with a hybrid technology attached to it. And it's going to sell for the same price as the electric version, which is unusual. Usually, when you have an electric version, you have to pay more for it than the gas powered version, but they're on the same price tag. It is expensive, though. It's around 147,000.
- Wow, OK. Well, maybe that's why it's not more expensive. It's all the same. Let's talk about Toyota. I know they were first on the market, I think, or one of the first with the hybrid, their Prius. But now they've got a whole new-- what is this? The first EV SUV. This is the BZ4X. I said it like a Canadian.
PATRINA GENTILE: Exactly, yes. And it's a little bit of a mouthful to say. But, like you say, they've been sort of everywhere, you know-- fuel cell vehicles, hybrids, plug-in hybrids. Finally, we have their first all electric vehicle.
And I drove this a couple of weeks ago in California, and I was really impressed. It's smooth, it's quiet, it's composed. It feels like you're driving a Corolla Cross. But you have the extra bonus-- a range of about 360 to 400 kilometers. Again, you can get it with front wheel drive, all wheel drive, lots of technology with this as well.
So you can, for example, say to the vehicle, or use your personal assistant and say, hey Toyota, I'm cold. It understands natural language, and the system will actually adjust the temperature for you. So neat technology in there, and it starts under 45,000. So not bad considering some of the prices we've seen already for these EVs.
- Wow, that's pretty cool. OK. I've got about a minute and a half here. I want to get into the Hummer, which I think probably became famous because it was not gas efficient. Now they've got an electric Hummer.
PATRINA GENTILE: That's right, but it is still as big and bold, and you can't miss it on the road. I drove this in Arizona a couple of weeks ago, too, and it was a vehicle that caught a lot of attention on the road. We took it off-roading. It has three electric motors, 1,000 horsepower, can go zero to 100 in three seconds, and it did. We tested it on a closed circuit.
But this one is already all sold out. Starting price around $140,000, but we're going to see vehicles coming out, other trims next year that will be a little bit more affordable than that.
- Patrina, I've got 20 seconds. Tell me what Cadillac has.
- They have their new LYRIQ. This is, again, an all electric vehicle, have 480 kilometers worth of range. Starting prices under $70,000, and I'll drive it next week in Utah.
KIM PARLEE: Awesome. Patrina, we can't wait to hear about it. We love having you on. Thanks so much for joining us.
- Thanks for having me.