With more electric vehicle options now on the market, and federal targets in place for the transition to zero-emission vehicle sales, a switchover to E-V may be on your mind.

A long time before E-Vs hit the showroom floor at Winkler's Hometown Ford, General Manager Brian Derksen has been familiarizing himself with vehicles powered by an electric engine.

"I bought my first hybrid 15 years ago," shared Derksen. "We have also personally owned three plug-in hybrids at our house, and I have also had a couple of full electric vehicles for extended periods."

Derksen has also done long-distance driving with the full E-Vs to understand what customers are up against, traveling to Minneapolis and Calgary. 

That real-world E-V driving has allowed Derksen to pass his first-hand knowledge onto customers when they walk through the door. 

"It's a big change for people," said Derksen. "We want to be able to give them the real-world expectation of what it will be like. Not just sell what the catalogue says."

F-150 Lightning

E-V is typically used to describe a vehicle that is 100 percent electric. However, hybrids or plug-in hybrids are variations of E-Vs that still have a gas engine in addition to the electric.

"The full E-V is 100% electric. You have a battery and electric motor, and no gas engine and no gas tank, so it runs completely on electric." 

"When you get into hybrids, now, that's a combination of gas and electric," said Derksen. 

"In a regular hybrid, you will typically accelerate on gas, cruise and coast in the city on electric, so it's continuously back and forth between gas and electric. That would be a traditional hybrid."

There are also some plug-in hybrids on the market, which are a bit closer to a full E-V, but still, hybrid. 

"So a plug-in hybrid, you will have longer full electric range to begin with, depending on the plug-in hybrid, it might be 30 to 60 kilometers of pure electric range that you can use like a full E-V for your local driving around town. But you still have a gas tank for when your battery is depleted and you want to travel longer distances." 

If you're considering switching to an electric vehicle, Derksen suggests easing in to get used to the concept.

"A stepping point easing into it, if someone wanted to test the E-V market, is the idea of a plug-in hybrid."

That option allows local driving on E-V, without feeling tied to a charging cord. At the same time, you still have a gas tank when you want to travel. "And then once you’re ready for the full plunge into E-V, there's a little bit of a learning curve, but it's not that daunting. You get used to it quickly," exclaimed Derksen. 

Derksen said full E-Vs are great for local driving. The greatest challenge is long-distance traveling because there are not enough fast chargers. Derksen said that is rapidly changing with a lot more chargers being installed.

On the road

With charges not all as fast as people would like today, Derksen says it's a bit of a test of patience at this point, but big changes are happening.

"Another big change is the Tesla charging network, which up until recently, was restricted to Tesla owners only," shared Derksen. "It's now being opened up first to Ford, and then shortly will be opened up to some other manufacturers." 

Derksen says the Tesla network is well-placed and is also very reliable. 

"We're looking forward to being able to expand the number of available chargers by a great amount now that Tesla chargers will become available to Ford owners," said Derksen.

At home charging

Derksen says it is possible to charge a full E-V using a standard 120 Volt outlet. The charge speed, however, will likely not be adequate for daily driving.  

Generally, he says an E-V owner will charge with a 240-volt mobile charge cord that comes with the vehicle, which requires a 240-volt outlet near where they will park. 

E-V owners often choose to install wall-mounted 240 Volt charging stations. Purchasing one will cost between $1,000 to $2,000, depending on the speed of the charger, plus the installation cost. "While it is an investment, the costs are still quite manageable."  

"When charging a plug-in hybrid, most owners will charge with a standard 120-volt outlet, because they have a smaller battery that can fully charge overnight on 120 volts. However, if a plug-in hybrid driver wants to speed up charge times, they can charge with the same 240 wall chargers as a full E-V," said Derksen.  

"That is what we do at our house. We have an Escape plug-in Hybrid, and with a 240 Volt charger, we can be back to a full charge in just over 3 hours. And the beauty of a plug-in hybrid is if the charge is not full, we still have a gas tank for worry-free driving." 

Battery replacement

"Probably the biggest concern is battery replacement, as the batteries are expensive and most people are used to batteries in their laptops and cell phones only lasting a few years. However, on a hybrid or E-V, the Federal government mandates that the manufacturer provides an 8-year, 160,000-kilometer battery warranty." 

Derksen said in their experience the batteries have generally lasted well beyond that point. "On my first hybrid at 14 years old and 300,000 kilometers, the original battery was still running strong." 

Batteries for E-Vs are quite large. The battery in a full electric vehicle could weigh up to 2000 lbs, making the replacement process, "a bit of a process."

Once the batteries are removed, Derksen said they get shipped back to the manufacturer. Once there, they would be rebuilt and resold as a re-manufactured battery.

Canadian Federal Government Targets 

"The Canadian government has put some targets in place to transition to zero-emission vehicles. The zero-emission definition includes full electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, currently in design research and testing."

The targets have no impact on the gas-powered vehicles on the road today, and there are no plans to make them unusable or ineligible to drive.

"Currently the targets in place are that in 2026, twenty percent of light-duty new vehicles sold in Canada will have zero emissions. That number will grow to 60% by 2030 and 100% by 2035. While the auto manufacturers are working towards these targets for full electrification, we are happy to see plug-in hybrids included as eligible, because they are a great stepping point for someone who wants the benefit of an E-V for the majority of their driving, but isn't ready to be reliant on charging when it comes to traveling." 


Derksen said with a full E-V, generally, the battery is in the floor, producing minimal impact on storage. "Plus, with the battery placed down low, it also helps for a low center of gravity in the vehicle, which improves handling. "Some of the earlier hybrids, batteries were still a bit bigger, and they sometimes were in the passenger area and limited cargo space. But that has become a thing of the past with the newer electric and hybrid models." 

"I love driving E-Vs and hybrids, the driving performance is great, and the fuel savings are awesome," said Derksen. He said his family has no plans of returning to a straight gas-powered vehicle at their house. 

The front storage area of the F-150 Lightning.The front storage area of the F-150 Lightning.