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What your local car dealer can teach you about electric vehicle range

Visit your local dealership today to explore the possibilities and learn more about what an electric vehicle can do for you.

By Blair Qualey

The New Car Dealers of BC continues to place a focus on transitioning British Columbians to zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). One of the most common questions potential owners have is about range and how far a specific vehicle can travel on a single charge.

Understanding how these systems work and the additional factors involved — like where charging stations are located, for example — is crucial for making an informed decision, and this is where your local car dealer becomes an invaluable resource. Dealerships can educate you on the latest technology, helping you choose the best ZEV for your lifestyle.

In simple terms, range is the distance an electric vehicle can travel on a fully charged battery and range anxiety — the fear of running out of battery power before reaching a charging station — is frequently cited as a significant concern for potential ZEV buyers.

However, advances in technology over the past decade, along with more development of charging infrastructure in many of our urban areas, have dramatically improved the range of electric vehicles, and many ZEVs today can easily cover multi-day commutes and more on a single charge.

As with gas-powered vehicles, how you drive a ZEV can significantly impact its range. Quick acceleration and high speeds can reduce efficiency, while a more measured driving style can extend it. Of course, external conditions such as weather, road conditions and even the type of tire on your vehicle play a role. For instance, cold weather can decrease range due to the energy required to heat the inside of the car as well as the battery.

A ZEV’s maximum range is directly linked to its battery capacity, which degrades over time. Just like your smartphone, to maintain battery health and extend range, it’s recommended to avoid frequently charging to 100%. Many manufacturers suggest keeping the battery level between 20% and 90% for daily use and only charging to full capacity for long trips. Fast charging stations can provide a quick top-up, often to 80 per cent capacity, which is usually good enough for long-distance travel planning.

A solid plan and good knowledge of available charging infrastructure — knowing where to charge your vehicle — can also help provide peace of mind. Home charging units are particularly convenient, allowing you to start each day with a full battery by simply plugging your vehicle in once you get home. Check out BC Hydro’s handy EV App, which can help you search for charging stations and more.

While it might be tempting to simply go for the model with the longest range, it’s more important to consider your driving patterns and lifestyle. Your local dealership can provide insights based on your daily commute and typical usage patterns to help you find an EV that fits your life perfectly, in the area where you live and work.

Understanding and optimizing the range of an electric vehicle — just like a gas-powered car or truck — requires knowledge and planning. This is where your local car dealer comes in. By leveraging their expertise, you can learn about the latest technologies, address concerns like range anxiety, and find the EV that best suits your needs.

New car dealers are not just salespeople; they are educators and advisors in the journey towards more sustainable driving. Visit your local dealership today to explore the possibilities and learn more about what an electric vehicle can do for you.

Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at