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Taking care of your Electric vehicle

Everything you need to know about using your electric vehicle, from charging your battery to getting car insurance.

Elderly woman recharging electrical car

Driving an electric vehicle or EV has a positive impact on both the environment and your personal finances, but there is some important information to know before hitting the road.

To help anyone who has recently purchased an electric vehicle, is planning to buy soon, or is on the fence about making a purchase, we created this introductory guide to electric vehicle ownership in collaboration with l'Association des Véhicules Électriques du Québec.

How is maintaining an EV different from taking care of a traditional car?

In many ways, EVs are easier to take care of than gasoline cars. For a start, they need fewer fluids to operate – just those for heat management, the brakes, cleaning the windshield, and the cabin filter. Instant torque can be hard on tires, so it's a good idea to invest in tires made for EVs.  

It's also strongly recommended to maintain EV brakes once a year because rust can build up more quickly due to less braking thanks to the vehicle's regenerative braking system.

You'll also need to get in the habit of charging your electric car battery every night, just like you plug in your cell phone before bed. If you have a plug-in hybrid, you can charge your battery with a regular 120 volt electrical outlet at home. An hour of charging will add about 6 km to your range.  If you have a fully electric car with all battery power, you can charge it with a dedicated 240 volt charger at home, which adds 30-40 km per hour, or you can use a 400 volt commercial fast charger, which can fully charge your battery in less than an hour. Under Quebec law, a 240-volt outlet must always be installed by a qualified electrician.

When on the road, you can also use 400-volt DC fast-charging stations to fully charge your battery in from 15 to 60 minutes depending on the battery's capacity. 

What can I do to extend the life of my electric car battery?

EV batteries, which are most commonly lithium-ion batteries, come with a warranty for 8 years or ~160,000 km, but they can last for 15-20 years if you protect them from extreme weather. 

Most new EVs can be remotely preconditioned to a preset temperature: this means you can program your car to start the air conditioner or heating system before you hit the road. If you use this feature, be sure to connect your car to a 240 volt charging source because preheating will use up your battery's energy and the charging will start again.

If it's extremely hot, park in the shade and use a sunshade to help lower the temperature of the battery. If it's extremely cold, ensure your battery is sufficiently charged before heading out and plug in when the temperature dips below -15C, if possible.

Driving in the cold

EV batteries drain faster in the cold because the motor does not produce any heat and the energy required to heat the vehicle is enormous. If you drive in below -25°C weather, your EV's driving range can decrease by 40–50% more quickly. If you do have to drive when it's extremely cold, make sure that you have enough charge to get to your destination, schedule more frequent stops to charge the battery, and, if possible, ensure that there's a charging station at your destination.

To keep your EV battery in top shape and give it a longer life, avoid fast charging your car above 80% unless it is necessary to reach the next fast charger or your destination.

How far can I go with my electric vehicle?

You can travel between 100-600 km on a fully charged battery, depending on the car, and this range will continue to improve as manufacturers develop better batteries.  

Road trips are completely possible in an EV, but they may require a little extra planning to make sure that you can access charging stations en route. Canada has almost 7,000 public charging stations across the country. The Electric Circuit, for example, is a public charging route with 3,500 stations. 

If you are planning to take frequent long trips, consider buying an EV with an active cooling system and use a 240 volt charger as much as possible to protect your battery. Using fast chargers too frequently may degrade your battery.

Storing your EV

Need to store your EV over winter? If you have a 60kW battery, it will hold its charge for a few months. Although it's recommended to keep your vehicle plugged in, don't exceed a charge of 50–80%*.

*This information varies from manufacturer to manufacturer

Will I really save money with an electric vehicle?

Yes, you'll save money in the long term.

While the upfront cost of EVs is usually higher than  gas powered cars, provincial and federal governments offer rebates to help offset the cost difference. 

Plus, powering an electric vehicle is more affordable than  than gas cars : it costs thousands to fill up but only hundreds to plug in. The electricity cost will be perfectly balanced with the money you will save from oil changes, gas and trips to the gas station. To save more, apply for a rebate to cover the cost of buying and installing a dedicated charger and charging equipment at home.

You could also save on car insurance with an EV!

How does owning an electric car impact my car insurance?

With Intact Insurance you could save on car insurance for electric vehicles. If you purchase an EV or hybrid vehicle, call your broker for a quote, you can get up to 20% off (*) your auto insurance premium. 

If you are considering an electric vehicle, you may want to join a waiting list now. It could take a few months for the manufacturer to deliver your vehicle, so putting down a refundable deposit now will mean your car is ready when you need it.

In the meantime, safe travels.

*Certain conditions, limitations and exclusions apply to all offers. Read the eligibility conditions for more details. Offers may change without notice. The information that appears on this website is provided to you for informational purposes only. Your insurance contract prevails at all times; please consult it for a complete description of coverage and exclusions.

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