Expansion of electric vehicle charging stations 'a waste of taxpayers' money,' consultant says
Dennis DesRosiers says electric vehicles are in our future, just not yet
One automotive consultant doesn't agree with Ontario's plan to invest in electric vehicle charging stations, calling it a waste of money.
On July 13, the Ontario government announced it will spend $20 million to build almost 500 electric vehicle charging stations across the province.
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"It's poorly designed, poorly operated and it's a waste of taxpayers' money," Dennis DesRosiers, president of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants, said of the plan.
He said electric cars don't currently meet the needs of consumers.
"One of the issues with electric vehicles is the charging infrastructure," he said. "Your maximum charge these days is somewhere within the 50 to 80 mile [80 to 130 km] range."
He argued building more charging stations won't fix this problem.
It's poorly designed, poorly operated and it's a waste of taxpayers' money.- Dennis DesRosiers, automotive consultant
"Even if you go to the quickest charge station, it's typically at least a half an hour, it's probably closer to an hour or two for most of them," he said.
At this point, DesRosiers said not many people in Ontario are buying electric vehicles.
"You've got 500 charging stations going into Ontario to meet the needs of less than 3,000 consumers," he said.
The government disputes that number, saying there are closer to 7,000 electric vehicles on the roads in Ontario. That is "significantly higher" than just six years ago, Ministry of Transportation spokesman Bob Nichols said in an email.
As well, when it comes to range, Nissan estimates the maximum distance the Leaf can travel in one trip is 135 km while Kia says it's Soul electric vehicle can reach 150 km.
'All roads lead to electric'
It's not that DesRosiers thinks electric vehicles are bad idea. The problem is they aren't at a point where they can be used as an acceptable everyday means of transportation, he said.
"I'm all for electrifying the fleet, all roads lead to electric," DesRosiers said. "It's just that the road is probably 30, 40 years out until we get to a reasonable market share and that's a science issue. We need to develop these vehicles to make them more acceptable."
Instead of spending money on building charging stations, he said the government should be helping the industry with the science behind electric vehicles.
"But the politically sexy solution is electric, even though electric is failing miserably," he said.
Nichols said the provincial government has a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.
Nichols said the charging stations will help reduce "range anxiety" and "build confidence that [electric vehicles] are a real choice for Ontarians." The network of charging stations will also benefit plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
"Under the Climate Change Action Plan, released on June 8, Ontario intends to further increase access to the infrastructure required to charge electric vehicles by investing in the rapid deployment of charging in workplaces, multi-unit residential buildings, downtowns and town centres," he wrote.
Alternatives to electric vehicles
A better strategy would be for the government to encourage people to buy new cars, DesRosiers said.
"There hasn't been a vehicle introduced in Ontario in the last five years that isn't 20 to 50 per cent more fuel efficient than the vehicle it's replaced," he said.
"It doesn't have to be electric or one of these high pollutant technologies, you're going to make a significant improvement in climate change," he said.
Nichols said it's the government's opinion that electric vehicles are the way to go.
"A shift to low- and zero-emission vehicles is vital to Ontario achieving its greenhouse gas reduction target," he said.
- This article was updated to reflect the ranges for the Nissan Leaf and Kia Soul electric vehicles.Jul 19, 2016 12:12 PM ET