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LETTER: Jury still out on EVs, efficiency and performance

'People need to do their own research based on their needs and their concern for the environment,' says letter writer
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BarrieToday welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected]. Please include your full name, daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following is in response to 'LETTER: Don't drink electric vehicle 'Kool-Aid' and 'LETTER: Reader unhappy with EV 'misinformation',' published March 13 and March 19, respectively. 

I am writing in response to both Mark Coles and Ian Graham's recent letters regarding EV vehicles. 

I bought my first and only PHEV (pluggable hybrid electric vehicle) in 2018 and I am happy with it. Whether I buy another vehicle at all depends on whether I can afford to buy one at all. 

I don't have Mark's problem where his HEV (hybrid electric vehicle) does not use the electric motor at highway speeds. According to my dashboard gauge, there are times when both gas and electric engines are providing power at highway speeds.

While Ian has 500 happy EV owners in the Waterloo region, I wonder how many other satisfied groups there are in the rest of rural Ontario, especially northern Ontario where pickup trucks tend to be the family vehicle. I have the same complaint as Mark regarding access to charging stations. 

I have seen claims that some charging stations in the GTA are free to use. In Huntsville, I found a row of charging stations that were no longer available for use. Of the few charging stations I have found in our area, the user fee to just plug in my car exceeds the total cost of fully charging my PHEV at home. Also, I doubt I would spend two hours at the Orillia Square mall waiting for the fast charge to complete.

I would also like to know what report Ian based his claim that gas-powered vehicles catch fire 1,000 times more often. The report I found among the top Google results is based on U.S. government data and concludes gasoline vehicles are up to 100x more prone to fires than EVs. 

However, the statistics electrek disclosed list nine manufacturer recalls related to gas vehicles catching fire, seven of the causes of the fire were due to battery or electrical shorts. 

Car and Driver point out that the National Transportation Safety Board (U.S.) does not have a database that tracks highway vehicle fires, and their article calls into question the data used by a New York Times article, and AutoinsuranceEZ report on the issue. I don't think we have the data to make the decisive claims Ian makes.

I own battery-powered tools and outdoor equipment and I don't see replacing my gas-powered snowblower anytime soon. But I do take care in transporting and storing my gas cans and lithium batteries. Both energy sources are known to cause fires.

I would agree with Mark Coles's conclusion, that EVs (or PHEVs) are not the "Kool-Aid" for everyone, and that people need to do their own research based on their needs and their concern for the environment. 

Accept the fact that there is significant bias and cognitive dissonance at times on both sides of the issue. By cognitive dissonance, I am referring to when Indigenous concerns about oil pipelines are highly publicized and supported by media and celebrities, but the same types of concerns by multiple Indigenous communities about the new lithium mine in Thacker Pass Nevada have been under-reported, lacking celebrity support.

Randy Baker