Sudbury·Audio

Sudbury residents starting to warm up to electric cars

A staff scientist at Science North says electric vehicles are starting to catch on in northern Ontario.
Cathy Orlando wants to use an electric car in Sudbury. But she says she would only make the purchase if there were more charging stations installed along her travel routes. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

A staff scientist at Science North says electric vehicles are starting to catch on in northern Ontario.

Amy Henson says the science centre has already had a few customers use two charging stations in its parking lot. She says the older models of electric vehicles were only viable for short trips.

But soon, she says people will be able to drive their electric cars more than 400 kilometres on one charge. 

Science North's Amy Henson says the centre has already had a few customers use two charging stations in its parking lot. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

"There are rumours out there about who's developing what new car and how much mileage is it going to get based on a charge," she told CBC News.

"I think we're really just entering a new generation of vehicles. And we're going to see a lot of new technology that's coming out that will really expand our horizons with it."

There are already dozens of electric vehicle charging stations across northern Ontario, but it could take a while before the phenomenon become commonplace.

It's sleek and fast and doesn't use fuel. Sudbury's Dann Kingsley put money down on a new Tesla Model 3 electric vehicle. He spoke with the CBC's Olivia Stefanovich about why he decided to make the jump to an electric vehicle. 6:22

Jumping on the electric bandwagon

Sudbury's Dann Kingsley, who is one of the first people to put down money for the new Tesla Model 3 electric vehicle, could be called an "early adopter."

"It's the Apple iPhone of cars. It's got all the bells and whistles," he said.

The car costs about $45,000. But Kingsley said he expects to get some of that back through a provincial incentive program for electric vehicles.

He said he has to wait for at least another year to get the car, but he said the wait is worth the money and energy he expects to save down the road.

"They don't need oil changes. They don't need spark plugs," he said.

"They don't need any of the things normal vehicles need."

Chris Bertrand charges his Nissan Leaf. He says today's electric cars will meet most people's needs. (Chris Bertrand)

Chris Bertrand is another early adopter of an electric vehicle.

"I am the proud new owner of a Nissan Leaf," he wrote to CBC News in an email.

"I live in Naughton and work in Copper Cliff. The coverage on the Tesla is good,  but you don't have to wait three years to get an electric car. You can buy one today that will meet most people's needs."

He said his Leaf gets 125 km per charge, which is just fine for his daily 40-60 km in commuting.

More charging stations needed?

Sudbury resident and environmental activist Cathy Orlando said she wants to use an electric car in Sudbury, but  she would only make the purchase if there were more charging stations installed along her travel routes.

"One hundred percent of my extended family lives outside of Sudbury, so seven hours to southern Ontario and then in Ottawa."

Henson said Orlando will be able to make those trips with the new technology that's coming.

"It really expands what people can do with their electric cars," she said.

"As we develop new cars, we're going to be seeing new materials that are being built with them as well that are more environmentally friendly … I think we're really headed in the right direction with our transportation."

There are two electric vehicle charging stations where Henson works at Science North. She expects they will get more use as the technology enters the mainstream.

Charging times vary based on car models, she noted.

with files from Olivia Stefanovich

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