There’s a lot of conversation about driving an electric vehicle (EV) when you live in the city or near a city centre. It is starting to appear as the obvious choice. But if you live in a rural area, is it doable to go electric?
The short answer is yes, of course! To inspire you and fight prejudice on the urbanity of EVs, we wanted to share the story of Buddy Boyd, an EV driver who lives in Gibson, BC, a small, ferry access only community near Vancouver.
In 2017, Boyd and partner Barbara Hetherington drove their all-electric Chevrolet Bolt 9,000 km across Canada! At FLO, we’ve agreed they’ve earned the status of range experts. Here are Boyd’s tips for succeeding as a rural EV driver.
#1 Get Educated To Choose the Vehicle That Suits Your Needs
The first thing to do before buying an EV is to get educated on the car you want to buy. Boyd recommends choosing a vehicle based on what will work for your lifestyle and needs. “Brand loyalty could lead you to make the wrong choice for yourself,” he explains.
To help you through the basics of what you should do before you buy your first EV, or decide to change yours, we’ve outlined the most important 5 things to do before you buy an EV. Read all about it here.
Then, calculate how much range you’ll need your vehicle to have. This will depend on your commute and where you will have charging access. Will you be able to charge at home, at work, or will you have to rely on public charging?
Answering these questions will help you can decide if you want a pure electric or a plug-in hybrid. You can learn about the difference between these here.
Once you’ve done your research online, it’s time to contact a dealership to schedule (and enjoy!) a test drive.
#2 Arrange to Get a Home Charging Station
If you live in a rural area, you’re more likely to have a long daily commute. In this case, leaving home with a full battery each morning is crucial to have enough range for the entire day. It’s key to avoid range anxiety and start off the day with range confidence.
Charging at home is the convenience Boyd enjoys the most about his EV. “I never have to go to a gas station or smell gasoline ever again,” he says. This is a huge perk for Boyd, who was a truck driver for more than 30 years.
While a standard Level 1 charging station can boost your range, it can take up to 20 hours to give you a full charge. When living in a remote area, this probably won’t be enough to meet your daily range needs.
That being said, a FLO Home Level 2 charging station is the way to go and will have you fully charged five times faster. It provides more voltage for a quicker charge, giving a full battery in four to five hours.
It’s good to know that all FLO charging stations are rugged enough for an outdoor installation and Canadian winters, but can also be installed indoors if you have a garage.
#3 Learn Range-Extending Techniques
As a driver with a longer commute, you can learn techniques to get rid of range anxiety for good.
After his road trip across Canada, Boyd says he no longer has this anxiety. “Now I have range confidence,” he says.
Boyd’s range confidence comes from planning ahead before he even gets on the road. “When you know exactly how far you have to go between charging stations, you don’t have to worry about getting from point A to point B.”
At FLO, we want to make sure that drivers always have somewhere to charge. That’s why we’re proud to be the largest EV charging network in Canada and the one of the largest in North America. Find out more about here, in our Quick and Complete Guide to Charging an EV.
The next habit he recommends is driving at a steady pace. “Having a lead foot will quickly decrease your range,” he says.
Another thing Boyd and Hetherington realized while crossing Canada was that having the AC on full blast depleted the battery quicker. They learned to turn it down a little or use it intermittently to increase their range.
Adopting these small habits can make a big difference in your range. They’re even good tips to preserve the environment if you still drive a gas car…
#4 Consider the Distance to Get Software Updates and Servicing
As an EV driver in a remote area, you’ll need to consider where you’ll get your vehicle’s software updated and serviced.
One of the reasons Boyd chose his Bolt was because the dealership is located just a short drive away, rather than in Vancouver, which is a two hour drive.
In his small, ferry access only community, “We fully understand how important it is to have local servicing,” he says.
#5 Get Ready to Save Money
When you change from a gas to an electric vehicle, you’re going to save money.
On average, Canadians will save between 66 and 77% of fuel and operating costs by driving a battery-electric car, depending on the province.
The 9,000 km road trip across Canada cost Boyd just $160 in charging fees.
Another FLO driver reported going from paying $5,000 a year in fuel costs down to $450 in charging his EV.
And it’s not just savings on gas. Since EVs don’t have oil running through the engine, they require less maintenance. You’ll save on oil, transmission and brake fluid changes, spark plugs, wires, timing belts, air filters, etc.
And there’s more! As an EV driver, you can also benefit from reduced fares or free use of certain highways, ferries and parking because of your EV’s green plate.
This is what makes owning an EV cheaper than owning a gas car in the long run. Plus, it’s a silent, smooth, green drive that lets you fully enjoy the rural lifestyle you choose.