The Top 15 EV Questions

Get answers to the top 15 EV questions fleet managers ask us most frequently, from “Do EVs work in winter?” to “Do fleet-ready electric vehicles even exist?”

Won’t the battery catch on fire during a crash?

Just like the highly combustible gas and diesel in conventional vehicles, EV batteries can catch fire in a crash. Lithium-ion batteries are vulnerable to heat, and can catch fire if they get too hot. However, electric cars are among the safest when it comes to crash conditions. And manufacturers such as Tesla and Nissan have boosted their electric vehicle safety with fail-safe circuitry that shuts the battery down if its temperature rises beyond safe levels.

What happens if one of my employees runs out of power on the road?

The answer is to avoid this scenario, similar to the way an employee wouldn’t let a conventional fuel tank hit empty. Our fleet electrification course offers several ideas for charging best practices that will help you and your drivers do just that.

If a breakdown does happen, don’t worry. Most roadside assistance services, such as CAA, will tow you to the nearest available charging station. 

Aren’t electric vehicles way more expensive?

Nope! While the initial cost to purchase an EV might be more than a traditional internal combustion engine vehicle (ICE), a recent report by Clean Energy Canada has found that total ownership costs of an EV — including depreciation, fuel costs, servicing and maintenance — are markedly lower than for an ICE vehicle. 

The inforgraphic illustrates how operating costs make the electric Hyundai Kona cheaper to won that its gas-powered equivalent.
A Clean Energy Canada study found that the 2021 Hyundai Kona electric was $10,500 cheaper to own than its combustion counterpart over its lifetime. Source: Clean Energy Canada

How much does it cost to charge an electric vehicle?

The cost to charge an EV depends on your location and vehicle. 

Earlier this year, Autotrader calculated how much it costs to drive 100 kilometres in a compact car (Hyundai Kona EV, which uses 17.4 kWh to drive 100km), an SUV (Ford Mustang Mach-E), and hybrid and PHEVs (Toyota RAV 4 Hybrid and RAV 4 Prime). 

The cost analysis found that 100 kilometres of range cost $2.44 for the Kona Electric, $3.24 for the Mustang Mach-E, and $5.17 for the RAV4 Prime (based on the national average cost for charging an EV at home). All figures were significantly less than their gas counterparts — nearly five times less in the case of the battery-electric vehicles.

If you’re charging a more fleet-forward vehicle such as a Ford E-Transit van, which has a 68 kWh battery pack and targeted range of 203 kilometres, “filling up” from empty at a busy depot in Ontario will cost less than $10.

Want to learn more? Sign up or log in so you can track your progress, earn a course certificate and receive exclusive invitations to our live learning sessions.

Are there EVs made for commercial fleets?

Yes, and more models are being made available all the time. Many businesses and municipalities across the country have already made the switch to commercial EVs. 

An Ottawa-based last-mile delivery company has ordered 3,000 delivery vans from Luxembourg’s Odin Automotive. Montreal’s Courant Plus zero-emissions courier recently welcomed two Ford E-Transit vans into its vehicle fleet, and Videotron will add 100 Ford E-Transits to its fleet this summer.

Will an EV work in a Canadian winter?

Absolutely. However, just like winter conditions increase fuel consumption in gas and diesel vehicles, extreme cold weather will reduce the range of an EV. That’s why it is recommended to consider a fleet vehicle’s use case based on winter conditions, rather than stated range.

A ford F-150 drives toward the reader in this animated GIF.
The Ford F-150 Lightning, like many EVs, has been tried and tested in winter conditions. Source: Ford

How can I get an electric truck? The waitlists seem really long.

It’s true that high demand has prolonged wait times for many EVs, but while you are waiting for an order to be fulfilled, you’ll have time to set up charging infrastructure and plan for electrification. Converting some of your existing gas- or diesel-powered trucks to electric is another option, and Canadian companies like Canadian Electric Vehicles and RiiSE EV specialize in this area. If you’re looking for light-duty options, traditional auto manufacturers like Ford have started their deliveries of all-electric pickup trucks. 

Want to learn more? Sign up or log in so you can track your progress, earn a course certificate and receive exclusive invitations to our live learning sessions.

Are there electric vans and box trucks?

Yes! Big automakers like Ford and General Motors have new electric vans for fleet managers looking to make the switch in Canada, and lesser know innovators like Workhorse and the Canadian Greenpower also have vans available for Canadian orders. A Canadian company, Lion Electric, is one of the leaders in the electric truck space, and Vicinity Motor Corp. has a Class 3 electric truck that is now available for pre-order. A few semi-trucks are open to orders from north of the border, including Freightliner’s eCascadia, the Peterbilt 579EV, and others from Volvo, Kenworth and Workhorse. 

Image shows the Lion6 electric truck.
Lion Electric’s Lion6 is a Canadian-made Class 6 electric truck. Photo: Lion Electric

Aren’t battery minerals just as polluting as fossil fuels?

No. According to The Guardian, fossil fuel cars make ‘hundreds of times’ more waste than electric vehicles. Roughly 30 kilos of raw materials in a lithium-ion battery will be lost over the lifetime of an EV, compared to 17,000 litres of oil in an ICE vehicle. Another recent study also showed that EVs create a lower carbon footprint over their lifespan compared to traditional gasoline vehicles. In addition to battery recycling, some batteries are being repurposed for grid storage when they are no longer suitable for use in vehicles.

My driver won’t even plug in a block heater. How will I get them to recharge an electric vehicle?

Your drivers don’t forget to fill up on gasoline, so they can be trained to plug in a vehicle. You’ll need to make sure they have easy access to charging infrastructure, which means installing your own chargers either on-site at the depot or at your drivers’ homes.

You can take guesswork out of charging by sending messages to your drivers’ phones to remind them to plug in at the end of the day, so they have enough juice to make the next day’s run. This can happen through smart charging or your fleet telematics system.

But I have some vehicles that need to travel 800 km a day!

It’s true that most EVs travel 200 to 400 kilometres on a single charge. But you don’t have to electrify an entire fleet all at once. It’s important for fleet managers to find the vehicles that are best equipped to be replaced with EVs. 

Pinpoint the routes — like a last-mile delivery service or technicians who work in the city — where EVs are a good fit. Purolator, for example, expanded its zero-emission, last-mile delivery services in both Montreal and Toronto in 2020.

Image shows an electric step van from the back, with doors open revealing the cargo area.
Identify the vehicles in your fleet that can be replaced by EVs. This Ingersoll, Ont.-made BrightDrop Zevo 600 is designed for last-mile delivery duty. Photo: BrightDrop

Will I have to replace a $20,000 battery in three years?

No. Based on a US law requiring manufacturers to provide at least 8 years and 100,000 miles of coverage, an eight-year, 160,000 kilometre warranty is the standard for a new EV sold in Canada – and some warranties go farther or longer. 

Experts estimate that the average EV battery will last 320,000 kilometres or more, and battery technology is still improving. (Tesla is working on a battery that can last a million miles.) This means that an EV could outlast the lifespan of a new internal combustion engine vehicle — which has an average lifetime mileage of roughly 240,000 kilometres, according to Consumer Reports. 

Want to learn more? Sign up or log in so you can track your progress, earn a course certificate and receive exclusive invitations to our live learning sessions.