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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

ModelStarting MSRPMax range (km)
2022 Nissan LEAF$37,498363
2021 MINI Cooper SE 3 Door$40,990183
2021 Hyundai Ioniq Electric$41,599274
2021 Kia Soul EV$42,995383
2021 Kia Niro EV$44,995385
2021 Volkswagen ID.4$44,995400
2021 Tesla Model 3$52,990568
2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV$38,198417
2021 BMW i3$44,950246
2021 Tesla Model S$114,990637

How much will you actually save with an electric car?

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

ModelStarting MSRPMax electric range (km)
2021 Hyundai IONIQ Plug-in Hybrid$32,64947
2020 Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid$43,99545
2021 Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid$44,50576
2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Plug-in Hybrid$42,91748
2021 Escape SE Plug-in Hybrid$37,64960
2021 Volvo XC90 Recharge$63,80029
2021 BMW i8 Coupé$149,90053

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

ModelStarting MSRPCombined L/100 km
2022 Hyundai Elantra$24,7994.4
2022 Toyota Prius Hybrid$29,1504.4
2021 Ford Escape SE Hybrid$32,3495.9
2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid$34,0505.1
2021 Lexus UX Hybrid$40,2506.0

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

ModelStarting MSRPMax range (km)
2021 Hyundai Nexo$73,000570
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.

Name Product Loan Amount Interest Rate Loan Term Min. Credit Score Requirements Table description
CarsFast Car Loans
$500 - $75,000
4.90% - 29.90%
12 - 96 months
300
Min. income of $2,000 /month, 3+ months employed
Get a new or used vehicle delivered to your door.
Browse thousands of vehicles from dealers across Canada and get matched with financing that meets your needs.
Loans Canada Car Loans
$500 - $35,000
0% - 29.99%
3 - 96 months
300
Min. income of $1,800 /month, 3+ months employed
Compare rates from multiple lenders.
Complete a single application to get quotes from different lenders. Bad credit, CERB and EI borrowers considered.
AutoLoanProviders
$7,500 - $85,000
3.99% - 29.99%
12 - 96 months
300
Min. income of $1,800 /month, 1+ months employed
Available in Ontario only.
Apply online and get your new vehicle delivered to your door anywhere in Ontario free of charge. All credit scores considered.
Coast Capital Car Loan
$10,000 - No Max.
Varies
18 - 84 months
650
Able to service debt payment of $300/month
Competitive rates and flexible terms.
Finance new and used vehicles from one of Canada's largest credit unions. No credit union membership required. Available across Canada except SK, QC, NT, NU, YT.
Splash Auto Finance
$10,000 - $50,000
9.90% - 29.90%
24 - 84 months
300
Min. income of $2,200 /month, 3+ months employed
Apply with any credit score.
Get financing for a new or used car. Auto loans for borrowers with fair credit, bad credit, no credit or bankruptcy.
goPeer Car Loan
$1,000 - $25,000
8.00% - 31.00%
36 - 60 months
600
Min. income of $40,000 /year
P2P platform with competitive rates.
Canada's first regulated consumer peer-to-peer lending platform that connects creditworthy Canadians looking for a loan with Canadians looking to invest.
Carloans411 Car Loans
$500 - $50,000
1.90% - 19.99%
Up to 72 months
300
Min. income of $1,600 /month, 3+ months employed
High application approval rate.
Get connected with suitable lenders to finance your next car, van or truck. Check eligibility for this loan through LoanConnect.
Canada Auto Finance
$500 - $45,000
4.90% - 29.95%
3 - 96 months
300
Min. income of $1,500 /month, 3+ months employed
Get financing from partnered local lenders.
Financing for a new or used car is available for borrowers with bad credit, no credit, CERB, EI or bankruptcy.
LoanConnect Car Loans
$500 - $50,000
9.90% - 46.96%
3 - 120 months
550
No min. income requirement
Pre-approval in as little as 60 seconds.
Get access to 25+ lenders through this brokerage. Get your funds in as little as 24 hours.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

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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