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4 types of electric cars in Canada: Compare 20+ models
Compare starting MSRPs, fuel-efficiency and model ranges of the different types of electric vehicles on the market.
It can be difficult to digest the intricacies of electric vehicles as the market grows. If you’re looking to invest in a fuel-efficient car but aren’t sure where to start, understanding how each type of electric vehicle works can help you figure out which option is best for your budget and lifestyle.
1. Battery electric vehicles
Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are powered by electric motors and don’t rely on gas at all. Because the engines and battery packs are quite large and expensive, the costs of BEVs are typically high, though prices have been falling in recent years.
A BEV will certainly save you money on fuel: On average, the cost of electricity is much less than the price of gas. However, this comes with a trade-off — very few electric cars have the range to travel long distances without frequent recharging. As of 2019, the median range for BEVs is 386 km, according to the Canada Energy Regulator. But if you’re willing to pay for a luxury vehicle, you could get a range well above 500 km.
While BEVs used to be best for city drivers or those with short commutes, the market has expanded to encompass drivers with slightly longer commutes — although those who have to drive long distances daily may still want to stick with a hybrid.
Battery electric vehicles on the market
|Model||Starting MSRP||Max range (km)|
|2022 Nissan LEAF||$37,498||363|
|2021 MINI Cooper SE 3 Door||$40,990||183|
|2021 Hyundai Ioniq Electric||$41,599||274|
|2021 Kia Soul EV||$42,995||383|
|2021 Kia Niro EV||$44,995||385|
|2021 Volkswagen ID.4||$44,995||400|
|2021 Tesla Model 3||$52,990||568|
|2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV||$38,198||417|
|2021 BMW i3||$44,950||246|
|2021 Tesla Model S||$114,990||637|
2. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles
Like their name implies, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) need to be plugged in and charged to take advantage of their electric engines. They have larger batteries and more powerful electric motors than traditional hybrids, which makes them ideal for traveling long distances without switching to the gas engine.
And unlike BEVs, you don’t have to worry about range. Once the electric engine runs out of charge, your car will switch to its gas engine. However, you’ll get less electric range per charge than with a fully-electric car: is around a 40 km range.
PHEVs are best for drivers who want to make a more environmentally friendly choice while still being able to pack in the mileage.
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles on the market
|Model||Starting MSRP||Max electric range (km)|
|2021 Hyundai IONIQ Plug-in Hybrid||$32,649||47|
|2020 Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid||$43,995||45|
|2021 Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid||$44,505||76|
|2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Plug-in Hybrid||$42,917||48|
|2021 Escape SE Plug-in Hybrid||$37,649||60|
|2021 Volvo XC90 Recharge||$63,800||29|
|2021 BMW i8 Coupé||$149,900||53|
3. Hybrid electric vehicles
Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) are the most common and include popular models like the Toyota Prius and Hyundai Elantra. Unlike PHEVs — which need to be plugged in — a hybrid electric vehicle can’t be plugged in. Instead, its electric engine is designed to boost the fuel efficiency of its gas engine. The batteries are powered by excess energy produced during internal combustion and when braking.
HEVs have good fuel efficiency on all fronts, but are best for city driving where the onboard computer system can intuitively switch between engines during start-and-stop traffic. So while not the best choice for those seeking to erase a big chunk of their carbon footprint, an HEV can reduce your fuel consumption and be a good fit for eco-conscious drivers who don’t want to rely on charging their car nightly.
Hybrid electric vehicles on the market
|Model||Starting MSRP||Combined L/100 km|
|2022 Hyundai Elantra||$24,799||4.4|
|2022 Toyota Prius Hybrid||$29,150||4.4|
|2021 Ford Escape SE Hybrid||$32,349||5.9|
|2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid||$34,050||5.1|
|2021 Lexus UX Hybrid||$40,250||6.0|
4. Fuel-cell electric vehicles
By far the least common electric car, fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) get their power from the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen — with water vapor as the only byproduct. They don’t need to be plugged in, and can get a superior range of 450 or more km on a full tank.
But FCEVs haven’t taken off nationally because of one main problem: There aren’t many places to fill up a car that runs on hydrogen. As of September 2021, Quebec City, Vancouver and Victoria are the only cities in Canada that have hydrogen fuel stations available.
However, the Government of Canada has recently announced that they plan to contribute funding to install more hydrogen stations. With a short refueling time comparable to gas cars and no greenhouse gas emissions, many automakers suspect hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles may be the car of the future. For now, these vehicles are only drivable in a few Canadian cities.
Fuel-cell electric vehicles on the Canadian market
|Model||Starting MSRP||Max range (km)|
|2021 Hyundai Nexo||$73,000||570|
|2021 Toyota Mirai||$73,870 approx.||500|
How long does it take to charge an electric or hybrid vehicle?
It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to over 8 hours to charge your electric vehicle (EV) — it all depends on the level of your car charger.
- Level 1 — the slowest option, it often takes over 8 hours to fully charge an EV. But it has its advantages: Level 1 chargers work with almost every EV on the market and can be done using a standard 120-volt outlet.
- Level 2 — these specialized chargers provide power at 240 volts. They take about four hours to charge an EV and are typically available at workplaces and public charging stations.
- Level 3 — the quickest option, it often takes as little as 30 minutes to complete a charge. However, they’re more rare — fast charging may only be available at a dedicated EV charging station.
Browse financing options for an electric car
Take a step towards clean energy with one of the Canadian car loan providers in the table below who offer financing for clean energy vehicles.
You have four types of vehicles to choose from when looking to invest in a ride that utilizes electricity to increase fuel efficiency and limit greenhouse gas emissions. The right one for you will depend on where you live, your lifestyle and budget. Read our guide to buying a green car to learn more about how to fund your environmentally friendly ride.
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