Randy: Numerous people have asked me questions about where and how to charge EV’s in the city. The “how’ to charge an EV depends on the brand of EV you drive. In North America, we have mainly four types of EV charging station plugs, you just need to know which one will accept your EV port. The “where” and “how’ can easily be answered at the same time. There are a growing number of smartphone apps that will guide you to the correct charging station depending on the EV you drive. These apps include ChargeHub, PlugShare, ChargePoint and a few others. When creating an account on one of the apps, it will ask you the type of EV you drive, in order for the app to guide you to the proper charging station. The cost for charging depends on the charging location which can range from “free” at places like Ikea where they want you to come in and shop, to around $1.00 per kWh. Generally speaking, charging costs can vary slightly by location.
When looking for a charging station, it is important to note that the degree of charging (kilowatts per hour) can and will vary. Most free charging stations will be a slower rate of charge, around 3-4 kW/h. To figure out how long you need to be plugged in, the math is easy. If you are driving an older Nissan Leaf with a 25-kW battery and you require a full charge, divide the rate of charge into the battery size to determine how many hours will be needed for a full charge. With a charging rate of 4 kW/h, it would take 6.25 hours to fully charge a 25-kW battery. The idea behind some of the free or destination chargers is to allow you to shop for an hour or two and put back into your car the amount of energy it took you to get to the store.
If you are traveling further distances and you want to fast charge, the image above shows the two different types of fast charging plugs at Petro Canada stations across Canada on the Trans Canada Highway. The plug on the left called a CCS J1772 Combo (350kW) and is used by Chevrolet, Jaguar, Volkswagen, Ford, FCA, Kia, Hyundai, and BMW for DC fast charging. The plug on the right is called a CHAdeMO (50 kW) and is used by Nissan, Honda, Mazda, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Volvo, Toyota, Tesla (with an adaptor) for DC fast charging. If you plug in the same Nissan Leaf to the DC fast charger at this Petro Canada (50kW/h), it will take less than 30 minutes to get a full charge.
For fun, download an EV charging app I mentioned and have a look at all the stations around you.
– Randy McMahon is our Prairies Remarketing Manager for Jim Pattison Lease. In this EV blog series, he documents his own experience and opinions from driving a Tesla Model S to provide first-person insights into owning an electric vehicle.