back to top

13 Electric Car Questions You've Always Had, Answered

By experts AND real people.

Posted on

We did the research and polled real-life, electric-car-driving people to get the facts about electric vehicles.

1. Does your electricity bill go way up when you start charging your car at home?

Expert Answer: Your electricity bill goes up some, but your total energy bill goes way down — because what you pay for gasoline counts toward your energy costs. The exact savings depends on your vehicle, utility rates in your region, and when you charge your car (electricity is cheaper at night). But one estimate says you can expect to spend $300 per year on electricity for an EV, or $0.78 per day.

2. Electric cars are quiet. How does it feel to "gun it" and hear absolute silence?

Nicole (drives an electric car): There is a noise for that, actually! Imagine the Millennium Falcon purring. It's very satisfying.

Jeremy (also drives an electric car): It's a bit like driving a golf cart — amusing, but nobody really gets excited.

3. When do the batteries need to be replaced? Can you get more juice by shaking the batteries?

Expert Answer: Eight years minimum, but they can last much longer depending on your usage. Promoting battery longevity is similar to phone hacks we all know: Don't leave it plugged in for too long, and never let the battery reach 0%. And no, shaking won't help.

4. Do you ever miss the smell of gasoline? (It's totally a thing.)

Nicole: Yes. I come from a family of station franchise owners. It's childhood nostalgia. (You can imagine how my car doesn't go over well at family reunions.)

Jeremy: Of course I do! When I get nostalgic, I comfort myself by opening my wallet and smelling all the gas money that I didn't have to spend.

5. What happens when you accidentally run out of power on the road?

Expert Answer: The car shuts down and rolls to a halt, the same as when you run out of gas. Some companies include warnings when your GPS destination is outside the car's range and will automatically direct you to the nearest charging station. Go here to find stations near you.

7. I heard electric cars generate power for themselves when they slow down? This seems physically impossible?

Expert Answer: It's called regenerative braking, and it's pretty cool. Basically, the car has a system that activates when you hit the brakes, and it "steals" kinetic energy from the car. This stops the car and charges the battery with that stolen energy.

8. What happens if an electric car gets struck by lightning? Do you go super fast?

Expert Answer: No, nothing special happens. Cars act as natural Faraday cages, including electric cars. You might get some cosmetic paint damage from the point of impact. However, this EV owner experienced major failures after her car was struck while charging. It's unclear why.

9. Does charging your phone deplete the battery faster in a noticeable way?

Expert Answer: No, you won't kill your car's range by charging your phone. Gas vehicles have batteries too, remember, and a full phone charge uses only about 2% of that capacity, which is tiny compared to the battery in an EV.

10. Do you ever need to go to a friend's house and the car is still charging and you're waiting in the garage like come on, come on, come on!!!

Nicole: Never. Charging happens while I sleep. I wake up to a full tank. (Also, if you ever need to interrupt a charge, you easily can.)

Jeremy: The worst part is when you're trying to leave a friend's house and the car is still charging and you're waiting in the garage like, come on, come on, come on!!!

11. How do electric cars handle cold Canadian winters?

Expert Answer: Pretty well, actually. The car does lose some efficiency because energy is consumed heating the cabin, keeping the car's battery warm enough to start. However, electric cars have built-in battery heaters, so they'll start even when left for hours in the cold. Gas cars will brick, unless plugged into a block heater. (That being said, you'll definitely want to store your EV indoors.)

12. Level with us: Are electric cars really better for the environment?

Expert Answer: Yes, because they don't burn gasoline and release greenhouse gases. Skeptics will say your electricity still comes from dirty coal. However, since 56% of Canada's electricity comes from renewables, you're probably doing fine. Even if you're using coal-fire energy, power plants are significantly more efficient than a gasoline engine. So you still have a smaller carbon footprint.

All images via Thinkstock.

Innovative technology requires innovative insurance. Did you know belairdirect takes your electric car into account in premium calculations so you can save more? Now you can focus on the important things — like planet Earth.