It’s not a subject that comes up every day when I’m helping a client buy a house or condominium unit in Ottawa, but with the increased concern for the environment, I’m expecting to meet more and more buyers who have purchased an electric vehicle or are considering one. These buyers will be looking for a condo or home that will accommodate their vehicles, and they sometimes have questions.

Recently, for example, one of my buyer clients inquired if it was possible to install an electric-vehicle charging station in a common area at their condo. Although car-charging stations are becoming more common in condo projects and some boards are realizing these stations can help attract buyers, the answer that came back from the board in this particular case was no.

Under provincial law, condo boards can reject such requests under limited circumstances, such as when a qualified professional has advised that the installation could pose a safety risk, could damage structural integrity or would be contrary to the Electrical Safety Code.

Of course, many buyer clients tell me they want a centrally located property or something close to a transit station so they can eliminate having a car altogether. In addition to being good for the environment, going auto-free can save you thousands of dollars in gas, insurance and maintenance every year.

But if for you need or want a car but want something that reduces emissions, you might be among those at least considering an electric vehicle, whether it’s fully electric (powered totally by an electric motor and battery) or a hybrid vehicle that can run on electricity and gas.

Here are a few common issues people ask about when considering an electric vehicle:

The cost of buying and maintaining electric cars vs. traditional vehicles:

According to Plug’n’Drive, a non-profit organization that promotes electric vehicles, most electric cars in Canada fall into the $30,000 to $45,000 price range. While this is slightly higher in most cases than comparable gasoline-powered cars, the federal government offers incentives for purchasing these cars that can bring down the cost.

As Plug’n’Drive also says, the cost of running and maintaining an electric vehicle is cheaper than a traditional car, so the cost of ownership is significantly lower. Electricity is cheaper than gas, and electric vehicles don’t need oil changes and other expensive maintenance services.

Plug’n’Drive says that with electricity and gas prices where they are today, the cost to drive an electric vehicle is about 25 per cent of the cost of a gasoline-powered car.

As well, fully electric cars do not require oil changes, transmissions or exhaust systems.

What government incentives are available?

Federal rebates to encourage the purchase of electric vehicles, introduced by the Liberal Government, took effect in May of this year. The rebates will take up to $5,000 off the cost of electric vehicles, and $2,500 off of the price of electric hybrids.

The rebates apply to vehicles priced under $55,000. According to one report, about nine electric car models and 13 plug-in hybrids are eligible for rebates. These incentives are applied by the dealers at point of sale.

For information, go to Transport Canada’s site, at

https://www.tc.gc.ca/en/services/road/innovative-technologies/zero-emission-vehicles.html

The cost of charging an electric vehicle:

Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation says the cost of charging a battery-electric vehicle is less than $300 a year, or about 78 cents a day if you charge the vehicle overnight, when electricity rates are lower.

The page says the cost to charge a typical hybrid electric vehicle is about $700 a year or $1.92 a day, including gasoline and electricity costs.

For comparison, traditional gas-powered cars cost between $1,000 and $2,500 each year for fuel, the Ministry’s page says.

What are the electrical requirements for charging your car at home?

Experts recommend charging the car during evening hours, when electricity rates are lower.

You do not have to install a charging station specifically for an electric car. It’s possible to plug your car into a standard household or workplace 110V outlet for charging. But it can take from 8 to 20 hours to fully charge an electric vehicle from such an outlet, Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation says.

Most owners of electric cars will consider installing a “Level 2” charging station at home that uses a 240V system, similar to what you use for a clothes dryer.

These chargers need to be installed by a licensed electrical contractor. The stations can charge a car from zero per cent charge to fully charged in four to six hours. As experts point out, most drivers only use a fraction of the power their car has in typical daytime driving, so only a partial charge is usually needed.

For details, visit the Ontario Ministry of Transportation’s page on electric car charging, at http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/vehicles/electric/charging-electric-vehicle.shtml

Installing Charging stations at Condos:

If you live in a condo unit and your building does not have charging stations, you can put in a formal request to install one in a common area. Boards are permitted to reject such requests under limited circumstances. If the board agrees to an installation, the cost of the installation is usually up to the condo unit owner.

In May of 2018, changes to Ontario’s condominium act made it easier for condo owners and boards to install charging stations, under specific guidelines.

For more details and the rules for condo owners and condo boards, visit the Plug’n’Drive website, at www.plugndrive.ca and click on the “Charging” tab and then “Condo Charging.”

Driving Time and Charging On the Road

Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation says most electric vehicles can travel at least 100 km on a single charge. Plug-in hybrid electric cars may travel more than 500 km, using a combination of battery and gasoline engine technology. Electric vehicles do not suddenly run out power. Like gas-powered cars, they have charge indicators to let drivers know when the power is getting low.

While most drivers charge their cars overnight, there are more than 1,400 charging stations in Ontario flor those who need one on the road. One site for locating these stations is www.chargehub.com

For general information on electric vehicles,  www.plugndrive.ca has good general information and question-answer pages on a range of topics relating to electric cars, their use and cost.

If you’re considering buying or selling property in the Ottawa area, I’d love to chat with you about the current market and conditions in your neighbourhood. With more than 30 years experience as a Realtor in Ottawa, I know our city’s neighbourhoods well. You can read about me and my team at www.nancybenson.com, where you can also view my current listings to get an idea of the kind of presentation we offer to seller clients.

Feel free to give me a call, at 613-747-4747.