Electric Avenue

Note: All WP Saskatchewan Transcripts are edited for flow and readability.

(Ashley) “When you have a vehicle that eats your gas up and you’re paying 100 bucks at the pump every time, to know that people are out here owning different electric vehicles and they got a full “tank” for maybe 20 bucks. So it does kind of suck being a gas driver right now. But we are seeing an advance in the interest of electric.”

(Narrator) They look like a normal vehicle, but there is something different. A few things might turn your head. Dead silent acceleration at a four way stop. The hood pops open and you see… Wait. Nothing. And whose vehicle is hooked up to those funny looking hoses in the parking lot? Whether you’ve noticed them or not electric vehicles are creeping into the everyday landscape of Saskatchewan roadways.

(Jerilyn) “It’s awesome. We’re finally starting to see momentum moving forward.”

(Fred) “Yes. We’re not there yet. We are going to be there. It’s coming. I mean, talk about your cell phone battery. Where was your cell phone battery ten years ago? You couldn’t play Minesweeper without killing your battery! Well, now it’s a little bit different. Your battery will last longer. You do all your work on your telephone. This battery is going to be the same thing. So we have to change our mentality.”

(Ashley) “You know, in Saskatchewan, we’re really kind of on the lesser side of development when it comes to people having EV’s, and just being able to see them kind of being introduced into the public. And a lot of people are getting over those bad things that you hear about the EVs. And that’s why we come to events so we can kind of crush those and show people that electric is really going to be the way of the future. And that’s a good way to start thinking.”

(Fred) “Yes, I understand that it is changing our mentality, changing the way we drive.”

(Jerilyn) “Well, we just want the right information out there, because I know there’s a lot of misconceptions… ‘They don’t work in the winter.’ and ‘They don’t… they blow up.’”

(Ashley) “A big one is the batteries catching on fire. It’s very rare for something like that to happen. When you think of a gas vehicle compared to electric, it’s probably more common to actually happen in a gas vehicle.”

(Narrator) As with any major disruptive technology, rumours and myths dominate the public sphere. Granted, there are some justified fears like hidden cost, range capabilities, and what to do during breakdowns and emergencies. And these problems raise some legitimate questions.

(Fred) “The cold. We’re at 40 below. What does your battery do at anything that’s 40 below. Yes, I get it. ‘Are you going to run it off my diesel generator?’ We hear that all the time. Yes, you could. You definitely could. Go ahead.”

(Ashley) “We have super cold winters here. You are going to lose some kilometers on the battery life, like during those minus 30, minus 40 days, for sure. But with the advancements of the charging stations and stuff like that, it’s pretty similar to finding a gas station.”

(Fred) “Another myth, another question we always get: ‘How much does it cost to replace the batteries?’”

(Ashley) “A lot of people think that there’s going to be a lot of maintenance.”

(Fred) “We’re into year two, year three of this truck. They have a ten year full warranty, replacement warranty, on those batteries. Wonderful. How can I tell you how much it costs? I don’t know yet, because we haven’t had to replace any. Am I scared of it? Yes. Am I afraid of where these batteries are going to go? Yes! Is that good for the environment? Probably not. So there are some things that need to get fixed. I’m probably not the guy you want to talk to on all that stuff, but I mean, I just tell it how it is and I think that we are on the right path.”

(Ashley) “The word needs to get out about EVs. Those myths need to be crushed and people need to start appreciating the new advancements and the new technology that we’re inevitably coming to.”(Jerilyn) “EVs are awesome. At least to my mind, I love mine.”

(Ashley) “Soon it’ll be majority electric. When you’re starting up an electric vehicle, the first thing you’re going to notice is just how quiet it is. Very first thing.”

(Fred) “Firing her up. And now it’s on. Wait until you see this. Here we go. This is just sitting in your vehicle. This is your owner’s manual. Let’s talk about…”

(EV Onboard Training) “Hill start assist can help prevent your vehicle from rolling backwards when you’re stopped on a hill giving you more time to move your foot from the brake to the gas pedal. Stay in place without rolling for about 2 seconds.”

(Fred) “There are some cool things about the Ford Lightning. It is chargeable. You plug it in, and away you go. Individual motors in each wheel, there’s no engine, there’s no… nothing in the front. There’s nothing in the back. Batteries are all on the frame of the truck. So, low center of gravity. Runs like a race car. It is immediate speed. I never knew that G-forces were a real thing until I drove this truck. And I was like, oh my god, my face is back here. The power is unbelievable. The cab heats up immediately. It’s an electric heater. It’s got… it’s right now.”

“These things have lights all over the place. You got lights that light up here. If you go inside, there’s lights that come out of the side mirrors. There’s lights that come out of the front. There’s lights that come out of the back. There’s lights that come out of the tailgate. There’s lights everywhere on this thing. If that isn’t enough, you just plug in some halogens into that back there, and now you’ve got lights for everywhere. The possibilities are actually endless. It’s just like having your own mobile non-diesel generator on your truck. It’s a 7.2 kilowatt generator. You can run a cement mixer, you can run a popcorn maker, and you can make a margarita all the same time, with that plug in back there.”

(Narrator) All right. So, we’ve heard the sales pitch and some of the upsides. What can I expect day to day, season to season as an electric vehicle owner in Saskatchewan?

(Ashley) “It’s actually super simple. You can actually purchase a home charging station online.”

(Fred) “You don’t even have to have the fast charger. If you’re at home for the night, plug it in. Away you go. I don’t know, that’s just my opinion.”

(Ashley) “Super convenient. You come home every night, plug your car in, and wake up to essentially a full battery. So it’s really nice. People absolutely love it. After a few months of owning an EV, you’re kind of an EV lover. You’re going to be with EVs for a long time.”

(Fred) “I charged it. I live in the city. It was perfect. Didn’t put a drop of gas in. I didn’t have to do an oil change, didn’t have to do any maintenance, and just drove. I have a charging station at work. Plug it in, if I needed to. But I got a whole week, almost ten days out of one charge. I mean, if not 500 kilometers. If you think about it, if you’re just in the city, going to get groceries, going to work, going to the hockey rink once in a while. That’s fine.”

(Ashely) “I do notice EVs are becoming really common in the younger generation, maybe 20’s to 30’s. That’s what I see mostly, but you’d be surprised. It’s kind of all age ranges of people.”

(Fred) “People that are very, let’s say, environment savvy, that care about what they’re leaving for the next generation. Those people.”

(Ashley) “Really common amongst the younger generation, you know, especially those with kids, the young, young ones. Give it ten years. They’re going to be on that.”

(Jerilyn) “I’ve owned my first generation 2014 Nissan Leaf for six years now, and I’ve been driving it all year round. I love it. I kind of wish I had more range though with mine, because mine being a first generation it is a lot of old technology. The window wiping mechanism went on it. That happens with normal cars. One of the wheel bearings was going so I had to get that changed. But other than that, most of the time it’s just filling window washing fluid and changing internal air filters, and window wipers. What normal people would do after a couple years. They need maintenance from time to time, especially ten year old cars. So it’s just like a normal vehicle.”

(Ashley) “I will definitely own one, let’s say five years, within the next five years. But they’re some of the best vehicles I’ve driven. Hands down awesome.”

(Narrator) Considering the known benefits like: the savings, the silent torque, and breaking edge powerful technology, countered with all the suspected fears: the battery doubts, the online critiques and hypothetical ‘what if’ scenarios. It’s a lot to consider for Saskatchewan drivers. Whatever your stance on the subject, electric vehicles in Saskatchewan have without a doubt, crossed the boundary from idea through experiment and now into everyday reality.

This WP Saskatchewan story, filmed at the 2023 Canadian Western Agribition, features Ashley Staruiala, REV Auto Group; Fred Lowenberger; Bennett Dunlop Ford; and Jerilyn Nixon with the Saskatchewan Electric Vehicle Association.

WP (Work & Play) Saskatchewan is a fund-raising production of the registered non-profit charitable Saskatchewan Safety Council (Charitable Registration Number: 11914-0382-RR). It serves the strategic priorities of the organization by creating community connections and provides a new platform upon which injury prevention messaging can be communicated.