Nfld. & Labrador

Electric cars a lot to consider: City of Toronto

The official in charge of electric vehicles for the city of Toronto says the cars are a great option, but St. John's city council needs to be mindful of cold, winter weather.
The Nissan Leaf, a popular electric vehicle.

The official in charge of electric vehicles for the city of Toronto says the cars are a great option, but St. John's city council needs to be mindful of cold, winter weather. 

The City of St. John's voted not to buy two electric vehicles for its traffic enforcement fleet on Monday.

Lloyd Brierley, director of Fleet Services for the city of Toronto, told CBC News that council needs to evaluate whether electric vehicles work for the city. 

Toronto has roughly a dozen electric vehicles in its fleet. "About seven of them are fully electric vehicles whereas another five or so are plug-in electric vehicles," Brierley said.

Some of the vehicles have a gasoline engine that can work as a generator, but can plug in to recharge as well. 

Brierley said the vehicles have been used for about four years for light, inner-city travel — making deliveries and shuttling city officials back and forth to meetings.

"Typically the range would be 100 kilometres a day back and forth, and we have charging stations throughout the city within Fleet that we can go between ... to charge the vehicles," he said.

Former St. John's mayor Andy Wells wrote a letter, criticizing the city's initial plan to buy electric cars and install public charging stations. (CBC)
The ability to charge the cars is key.

A level-two charging station, Brierley said, can take upwards of eight hours to fully charge a vehicle.

"So if you've driven your 100 kilometres and the battery's at the end, you need to be able to charge that vehicle so you need to have that charging station capability wherever you are."

Winter months also take a toll on the battery. "I'm talking - 30 degrees cold," said Brierley.    

If the car is parked outside in extremely cold conditions, he said, the car's battery capacity can be affected by 25 to 40 per cent. 

With files from Julie Skinner.

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