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Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for October 2022

My new plug-in hybrid

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Toyota Prius Prime

A month ago I took delivery of a new Toyota Prius Prime. This blog post is about my experience of becoming an EV driver. I can say that since although this car does have an internal combustion engine it has hardly burned any fossil fuel at all since I acquired it. I would have liked to buy an electric car, but the condo where I live is not allowing new EV owners to charge their vehicles. Some people have been using the existing receptacles in the garage – originally intended for owners to be able to plug in a vacuum cleaner now and then. There are very few of these 110v outlets and only a few could be used without either employing long extension “cords” or blocking someone else’s car in. These people are now paying a monthly fee, but the strata council is not allowing any additional users stating that they need to have a plan, since the building went up in 1974 and was never designed to accommodate EVs. The threat is that somehow these cars will overload the system. Actually the threat is very low if you consider that most people would be charging overnight – the cars are smart enough to be programmed that way – at times when everyone is fast asleep and not using much power.

My New Prius Prime

The reason I could afford to buy a new car is the impact of the pandemic on my budget. We have not been anywhere or done anything very much for the last three years. So the money we would have spent on travel, eating out or other entertainments like the theatre stayed in the bank account. I have been trying to find ways of putting that to good use, but since the beginning of this year the markets have been negative, and investing has mostly been at a loss. My Yaris wasn’t costing me very much, as we tend to walk, use transit or EVO for local trips, but attempts to get comfortable with Modo (who now have a Prius parked near our place) did not work out very well.

There is a BC Hydro EV charging station on Arbutus Street near 41st Avenue. Unfortunately this high powered rapid charger (DC Fast 50KW) does not have the connector my car needs (J1772 30km/hr 6.2kW). The nearest one is at the EasyPark lot on Yew at 41st – where there is a parking fee to be paid while charging. Down in Kits there are 3 public charging points on Arbutus next to the Kits Beach park. Another is restricted to Modo. While parking there is free it is mostly fully occupied during the day.

To get to use these points you need a smartphone (or member card) from Flo or Chargepoint. Their apps also provide information about availability, and the use of power while charging. The car itself tends of overestimate how long a charge will take. For example, most recently it had only 10% charge available and expected the full charge to take over 6 hours. It actually managed it in two.

The Prius also has its own app which tells me I have 460 km on the odometer. So far I have spent $31.40 on 50.3 kWh. It came with a full charge of course as well as a full tank of gas. The best value was a parking lot at White Rock which is 45km from where we live and at the edge of the EV range. The electricity was free: the parking wasn’t. We were able to use electricity for the round trip – which included the A/C. The Yaris used to get around 7 litres per 100km so at current pump rates that would be $77.60 – but mostly I am pleased that some significant amount of CO2 was not emitted ( 1 L of gasoline produces 2.3 kg of CO2) .

The one thing I find disappointing – and this is a feature of every hybrid I have driven – is that when you take your foot off the accelerator, the car slows down as if it were an internal combustion engine dragging. This is not necessary in an EV. I was very pleased to note that this maker is going to take coasting seriously as a way to save energy. Good.

A couple of points I think are worth noting. The map that Flo and Chargepoint uses includes charging stations that are not actually available publicly. I have taken this up with them and should have been corrected by now. We spent some time trying to figure out how to access stations which were inside locked private garages at condos. They both tried to blame the map providers, but of course they can only rely on the data given them. I have also had an issue with the EV station at Oakridge Mall. It is available publicly and was working when I tried to use it but my phone was out of cell tower range (inside a concrete reinforced parking structure) or WiFi. In theory the chargepoint should have treated my phone as a credit card – but in case I have a similar problem in future I have ordered a Flo card as a back up. I have also had an issue at Kits Beach but then I was not running late on an appointment and spoke to a representative on the phone – and they started the charge for me remotely.

It is also not actually necessary for condos to spend money on installing charge point machines. The car comes with a suitable cable with a standard three pin plug on on end and a J1772 on the other. It includes a fairly hefty intermediate device which means that if the receptacle is old and loose that charging may not work when unattended. The rate for use can be calculated and agreed as an addition to the other strata fees.

Perhaps next time we go to Richmond we will be able to use this new charge point at Garry Point

EV Charging station

Written by Stephen Rees

October 10, 2022 at 3:19 pm

Posted in electric cars