Electric vehicles (EVs) are a great fit in Manitoba and have many benefits when compared to gasoline or diesel powered vehicles:
- Low operational costs
Manitoba has among the lowest electricity rates in North America, making an EV inexpensive to charge. An EV that travels 15,000 km per year would use approximately the same amount of energy every year as a typical electric water heater. This equates to approximately $0.01 to $0.02 per km driven.
- Low maintenance costs
EVs are simpler in design, with fewer parts and little to no fluids, so the cost to maintain them can be much less. For example, EVs do not have engine oil and don't require oil changes.
- Energy efficient
The motor used to power an EV is approximately 4 times more efficient than a typical internal combustion engine.
- Environmentally friendly
Emissions associated with EVs come from generating electricity to charge the batteries. Over 97 per cent of electricity generated in Manitoba comes from hydroelectric power, which is a renewable energy source with virtually zero greenhouse gas emissions.
- EVs support the local economy
Electricity is produced within the province, resulting in a decreased outflow of dollars from Manitoba's economy to pay for imported fossil fuels.
- Enhanced driving experience
EVs are much quieter and typically perform better than internal combustion vehicles. They also accelerate instantly, smoothly, and quietly, as they use electric motors without a transmission.
Electric vehicles in winter
Cold weather and winter driving conditions negatively affect both electric and internal combustion engine vehicles. Driving range in an EV is typically reduced in these conditions, so you may need to charge it more frequently. Although this reduction in range may affect certain drivers, the average daily driving distance in Manitoba is approximately 43 km, and typical commuting distances within Winnipeg are rarely more than 30 km per day.
Tips to maximize driving range in winter:
- Pre-heat your vehicle using power from the grid. Heat the interior of your vehicle while it's still plugged into the charger. That way you use power from the electric grid rather than the vehicle's battery.
- Use the seat warmers. Seat warmers use less energy than your vehicle's fan heater.
- Keep your EV battery warm. If you can, park your vehicle in a heated or insulated space such as a garage. Your EV battery may have a heater built into it to maintain an optimal operating temperature – if this is the case, keep your EV plugged in when parked to avoid battery depletion.
- Ensure your tires are properly inflated. Under- or over-inflated tires can increase resistance or affect the traction of your vehicle. Properly inflated tires will help maximize your range.
Electric vehicle charging
When considering an EV, you need to think about where you're going to charge and what type of charging system fits your lifestyle. Due to a variety of factors, including energy already in the battery, temperature, and type of charging equipment, charging times can be highly variable. The below charging times are approximations based on averages. For exact charging times and expected range of your vehicle, consult a local dealer or refer to the manufacturer's website.
Level 1 – 120 V AC
- Approximate charging time: 12 to 20 hours.
- Compatible with outlets commonly found in garages, parking lots, and exteriors of homes and businesses.
- Adds approximately 5 km of range per hour charged.
- May require a dedicated circuit to be installed by a licensed electrician – existing 120 V outlets may become overloaded if part of a larger circuit.
Level 2 – 208 to 240 V AC
- Approximate charging time: 4 to 8 hours.
- Can be used in wide range of residential, commercial, and public settings.
- Average cost (including installation) ranges from $1,000 to $3,000. Level 2 chargers are currently eligible for financing under the Power Smart Residential Loan.
- Adds approximately 20 to 40 km of range per hour charged.
- May require a larger electrical panel and/or additional wiring installed. We recommend consulting a licensed electrician about the equipment's requirements and potential costs.
DC fast charging system – 400+ V DC
- Approximate charging time: 30 to 60 minutes.
- Most expensive to install and not found in residential locations.
- Not widely accessible in Manitoba yet.
Some commercial parking lots, including apartment buildings and condo complexes, may operate their electrical outlets in a load-restricted or cycled manner (otherwise known as a block heater timer). Plugging your EV into these types of outlets may result in a lower charge than expected, or no charge at all. If a parking stall is not specifically designed for EV use, we recommend you consult with the parking lot or building manager to ensure it can provide adequate power to your vehicle.
Charging at night
Charging your electric vehicle on a weeknight (Monday to Friday from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.) helps keep Manitoba Hydro's electricity rates as low as possible. When we sell power on the export market, other utilities pay a premium for electricity provided during weekdays, as that's when demand is at its highest. By charging your EV overnight, you're increasing the available electricity during the day, which we can sell on the export market at the highest price possible.
Many electric vehicles have programmable timers (similar to a programmable thermostat) you can pre-program to start charging at designated times. By programming your timer to charge overnight, you can plug your vehicle in when you get home and forget about it.
Electric bus testing
In addition to our work related to standard electric passenger vehicles, we've collaborated with the Province of Manitoba, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, New Flyer Industries, Winnipeg Transit, and Red River College to develop an all-electric transit bus and charging system.
In March 2014, an electric bus began shuttling Manitoba Hydro employees between offices at 820 Taylor and 360 Portage. The bus was tested for performance under various weather conditions, but we also tested its overhead charging station – the first of its kind to be installed in Canada.
Manitoba electric bus project
Find out how the bus fared in Manitoba's cold winter weather and what it's like to drive an electric bus.
The electric bus has been added to a regular Winnipeg Transit bus route. Four plug-in charging stations have been installed at the Winnipeg Transit garage to support the addition of electric buses to its fleet.
For more information on electric vehicles – including types, cost of operation, and where to charge – visit CAA's website.
To connect with other people who drive electric vehicles in Manitoba, visit the Manitoba Electric Vehicle Association (MEVA) website.