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The Car Life Electric

Just back from toodling around Victoria in my sister’s all electric Mercedes Smart Car – otherwise known as “Sparky”. It’s an adjacent reality, very close but not entirely new, but has some acute difference from our common gasoline powered mobile reality.
Our reality is mobile. Outside of home or work, cars are our third “place”.
Victoria is ideal for such a unit. Range is short – about 100 km. Trips are up and down the Saanich Peninsula so 100 is quite workable. And the temperature is warm – er. So batteries do not suffer the dramatic drop off apparently common in the cold. Not sure how that affects range.
It’s like your cell phone, plug it in to charge every night when you come home. A home high capacity charger is a necessity, you need a spare 220 circuit to tap into for that. Working off normal mains is just too slow. Direct [like DC] is very quick – less than 1/2 an hour when you’re at one of those public stations. Time enough for a coffee.
Driving wise, very little difference. No noise. – sneaky, like pedestrians may not hear it…Very zippy, electric motors have lots more torque. Display, outside of speed and situation, the power indicators are a bit different but really, it’s just like the driving we know and love.
Sparky’s a 2 seater. There are 4 seaters – obviously the more experienced Tesla Model S, Nissan Leaf and newly the Audi e-tron and Kia Soul. Range in those is somewhat greater from 170 in the Soul to 400 in the Tesla.
The real differentiator in practical usage starts with trade offs in capacity and range. My relatives maintain their gas powered cars for longer trips or more passengers – but hardly ever use them. The electric has automatically become the default. It’s handy, snappy and – no gas. What’s not to like?
Well, point to point travel away from home still demands the convenience of gas. Introduce any element of real distance and the electricity just runs out. Otherwise, in terms of comfort and ordinary use, the new option works seamlessly.
So we get to the payoff. As capital cost approaches normative, and battery life and reliability advances, you enter this nirvana of vehicle ownership. No gasoline – convenient, not just cost saving. And way lower down line expense – no oil change, no maintenance really. Electric vehicles have very few moving parts – like 10. Internal combustion engines have – what – hundreds?
Folks worry about hybrid and electric battery replacement. I’m sure these packs have cycle limits – so many recharges and you’re dead or degraded. But for all the resistors, what about replacement? I was told that now you can order packs custom for your car over the internet for either type at a fraction of the dealer cost. Change out is easy. But then again, Toyota and Nissan offer an 8 year warranty on their batteries.
So the visit felt like a proximate visit to the near future. In Calgary? Well, most of our trips would fall within that 100 km day limit. Cold impact on batteries, what about that?
It comes down to this.
Would we change out one of the fleet? Hmm….


Doug Bouey
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

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Doug Bouey, President
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

Calgary, AB // Phone: 403.777.1144


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