Rivers has the temerity to call a Telsa a Tin Lizzie - will he be buying one on-line?

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

July 14th, 2017



It is a revolution coming to a shopping mall or car dealer near you. There is a veritable flood of affordable electric vehicles (EV), the new Tin Lizzies, that will be pouring into the auto market in the near future. And as Tesla has shown you will be able to buy one at Yorkdale Shopping Centre or on-line as well as through the traditional car dealer networks.

Quebec leads the country with EV sales, though the number sold to date in this country is relatively low compared to other vehicle sales. But it is rapidly changing and that is the story we need to be paying attention to.

Rivers EV charging stations

The Portland Oregon airport expects to see a lo of electric cars – they have installed these charging stations.

To accommodate that growth there are over 5000 public EV charging stations across Canada according to the Canadian Automobile Association, which has an online map for when, inevitably, someone is running on their last drop of electrons. And the government is rapidly growing that network in this province.

Electricity is no stranger to transportation. Elevators, escalators, commuter trains, trams, subways, ski tows, and golf carts are all electric. In fact EVs were among the first horseless carriages produced. The giant General Motors in the mid 90’s, in anticipation of California’s strict auto emissions laws, produced more than 1000 EVs (called EV1) in a pilot lease program. The experiment was so successful that, presumably under oil company persuasion, GM took back the vehicles and destroyed them disappointing many otherwise satisfied drivers.

Rivers telsa 3

When Henry Ford introduced his Model T – it came in Black and only black. The Telsa offers a little more choice

But Tesla is the game changer. Introducing high-end quality cars, Tesla blazed the trail and was soon mimicked by other luxury car makers. In this way the EV developed niche and has become associated with speed, quality, reliability and high prices. That’s a long stretch from an EV being nothing more than a road-worthy golf cart. And it worked, sparking interest among autophiles and prompting a huge outcry for an affordable EV with sufficient battery capacity to accommodate most personal driving needs.

So last week Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the production of the first of its bread and butter EVs with a 300 kilometre range. Tesla first announced this vehicle, the ‘Model 3’ a couple of years ago and has since accumulated about half a million $1000 cheques from folks reserving their place to get one. Tesla Motors, barely a decade or so in the car business and still waiting to make a profit on its vehicle production, is already worth more than Ford Motors in market value. It’s owner the effervescent Musk, founder of Pay Pal and Space-X, is obviously doing something right.

But not everyone agrees we should be ditching the old guzzlers and moving to EVs. One of these is the editor of the Financial and National Post, Kevin Libin, who recently penned an epitaph on the EV based largely on yesterday’s sales numbers. He also referenced two studies, a Swedish one claiming lower CO2 emissions from driving a gas guzzler than making the EV’s batteries; and a Chinese paper claiming that charging the batteries alone emits 50% more than sticking with gasoline.

Libin might have checked an April copy of Forbes which lays out the carbon footprint for the Tesla and includes a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists which demonstrates that an EV reduces CO2 emissions by 53% over gas power even where coal is burned, as per the USA or China. And that number rises to 84% for a jurisdiction like Ontario whose electricity production is about 80% carbon free.

Rivers Volvo

Volvo has announced that in the near future it will manufacture just electric cars.

In any case those kinds of distraction haven’t put a stop to Chinese owned Volvo’s plans to sell only EVs and hybrids as of 2019. And for a cold northern country, EVs currently make up a third of all new car sales in Norway – where electricity is fossil-fuel free. In the UK, authorities are so concerned about EV growth potential that they worry there may not be enough electricity produced at the brand new Hinkley Point nuclear facility to meet future demand.

Riveers hydro generating

The Sir Adam Beck damn at Niagara has all the capacity the province is going to need to power up the charging stations and the GO trains that are due to be electrified in the not too distant future.

Following the break-up of Ontario Hydro with the associated brownouts, blackout, and soaring electricity rates in the early 2000’s, the Ontario government vowed to ‘keep the lights on’ by ensuring there would always be adequate electrical capacity to meet our needs. It was an expensive promise with an untested public/private electrical system requiring the issue of long term fixed supply contracts. And it was also a system requiring massive infrastructure spending to rectify years of neglected maintenance.

As a result of all that investment, Ontario, which had been forced to import almost a billion dollars of electrical supply in the final two years of the Harris/Eves government, was able to export almost a quarter million dollars worth of energy in 2015. And with all that capacity we can keep the electrons flowing for days when the sky is cloudy and/or the wind is still. We also now have a precautionary margin in the event that one of the nuclear facilities, which together supply roughly half of our electricity, fail as they have done in the past. And just as importantly, there will be sufficient capacity to meet the needs of an EV future and the end of the gas guzzler.

Rivers-direct-into-camera1-173x300Ray Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington in 1995.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.     Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

EV Sales Canada –   EV Recharging Network–   Volvo 2019 –   

FP Article on EVs –  Tesla 3 –    EVs and the Oil Industry –    EV Myths–   

EV vs Gas PollutionTesla Not So Green –    Tesla Reductions –    

EV ReductionsWho Killed the EV –   Grid Blackout 2003 –   UK Hinkley

Ontario’s Nukes

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15 comments to Rivers has the temerity to call a Telsa a Tin Lizzie – will he be buying one on-line?

  • Mr.Bean

    @lonely taxpayer
    I can’t understand how that same car is attached to the charger at Pioneer station located at Mainway & Appleby. Plugged in all day. Criminal.

  • steve


    Well, that’s good to hear. They must be doing something different now, because all the lithium Ion batteries I’ve ever had didn’t last all that long. But good to hear that is changing.

  • Lonely Taxpayer

    Yes and when you drive to the famous Tim Hortons in “Dogs-Nostril Saskatchewan” – there is an EV charger there for you to use.

    One (1) EV charger.

    With 4 cars lined up behind each waiting for their 45 minute sip of electrons.

    I’m all for the electric cars – just need to wait for the infrastructure.

    A public charger near my home ALWAYS seems to have the same Chevy Volt plugged into it – so if I ever wanted to use it – I can’t.

  • Marco M. Pardi

    I’m seeing a sharply increasing number of Teslas in the Atlanta (Georgia) area. This is remarkable in a State which is Republican from governor down to dog catcher. I would not be surprised to see some drivers, to avoid vandalism, adhere a bumper sticker: My Other Car is a Hummer.

  • Gary

    And they call Justin Trudeau “sunny”. He has nothing on you Rivers. Until the range and recharging issues are mostly addressed, EV car sales will still linger at 1.5% of market sales where they have been for a decade.

    • What issues? 383km range on $30K Chevy Bolt. DC Fast Charging is being built across the province – 84 up from 2 twelve months ago. Some people only see problems, others​ see solutions.

  • steve

    The inventor of the lithium Ion battery is involved in a new battery, (solid state) and I hope his lineage will prove to be the difference. Fingers crossed.


  • steve

    How long will the super expensive lithium Ion batteries last in these cars? It’s been my experience that lithium batteries don’t last that long. How long before that 300 mile range is 100 mile? Will the government subsidize the replacement batteries as well?

    • I’ve owned a 2012 Chevy Volt since, well, 2012 and have observed no loss in range. GM warrants the car and all electrical drive train and charging components for a full 8 years. From what I’ve read I could buy a brand new battery pack today for around $3K USD even if the whole thing did die and couldn’t be repaired by replacing a module or two (unlikely). I’d say it’s as much a non-issue as is worrying about changing your transmission or exhaust system eventually when you buy a new ICE car.

  • Mr.Bean

    When is our government going to stop paying people to purchase EV’ s with taxpayers money through these disgusting rebates?

  • Stephen White

    I have driven an electric car (i.e. Ford C-MAX) and I was really impressed with the ride. The acceleration and handling were superb. I even looked at perhaps purchasing one last year but opted instead for a more mundane, solid, reliable gas propelled Subaru instead.

    Unfortunately, the major factor that precludes many people from purchasing an electric vehicle is range anxiety. I am driving down to Sarnia and Chatham soon to visit family. If the maximum current range is 383 kilometres on a Chevy Bolt, that isn’t going to help me considering the return trip will be closer to 600 kilometres. Southwestern Ontario is predominantly rural, and re-charging stations aren’t plentiful. Until manufacturers manage to significantly address this issue and push the range to at least 800 kilometres electric cars will have a limited market and a loyal but restricted customer base.

    As for Tesla, the jury is still out on whether they will ever crack the Big 3. Automobile folklore is littered with innovative people who headed small car companies with great ideas (i.e. American Motors, Studebaker, Tucker), but who lacked the stamina, capital or the ability to address production problems. Tesla has had more than its share of production headaches and missed deadlines. Time will tell.

    • There are DCFC (aka “Level 3”) chargers now located in Woodstock, Ingersoll, as well as Chatham as a matter of fact. I don’t think you’d have any problem making the trip in the Bolt.

    • Dave

      As for range anxiety, I’m not sure what the problem is here. Chatham and Sarnia are along major 400 series highways where there are lots of EV charging options. ( see map: https://www.caa.ca/evstations/ )

      The range of the Bolt referred to is 383 km. 1 hour of Level 3 fast charging will put about 260 km of range back in the battery; 1 hour of level 2 charging adds about 40 km, 1 hour of level 1 (120 volt outlet) adds about 7km.

      Stop near Brantford at either of the equipped Tim Hortons for a 15-minute Level 3 fast charge to top up your battery, sip a coffee, stretch the legs. (Tesla owners can top up in Woodstock, with 9 super chargers available — not sure about the coffee).

      Stop again at the Tim Horton’s in either Chatham, Wallaceburg, or Sarnia for a Level 3 fast charge to top up the battery in 45 minutes, have a coffee, do some shopping nearby, then you’re done for the whole trip. charge it back up in your garage when you get home. There are also other charging options along the way, with phone apps and websites to help you find them.

      That’s not much of an inconvenience for an occasional long distance trip. All people should be stopping anyway periodically on long driving trips to take a walk and get the circulation going to avoid health problems. Many people stop for coffee breaks, gas, or shopping already anyway.

      You also have the option of plugging into your host’s 120-volt outlet in their garage while visiting. Tip your hosts $10 as a courtesy if you want.

      If taking a long distance trip in a rural area such as way up north and you are still concerned, consider renting a vehicle for those occasional trips, which also avoids putting the mileage on your own vehicle. This will also improve in the near future, as EV charging stations are added to or replace conventional gas stations.

      The network of charging stations has ballooned over the last 2 years, with more chargers added regularly. The more people drive EVs, the more chargers will pop up. If you enjoy paying for gasoline though, that’s your choice. With the Bolt you save about $8 on energy for every 100 km driven during regular use.

      The overall life cycle cost of owning and driving an EV is often cheaper than a conventional gasoline vehicle now. No more oil changes, rad flushes, starter motor replacements, transmission maintenance, and brakes often last waaaay longer due to regenerative braking doing much of the work. If you enjoy paying for maintenance and expensive brake jobs, and having starter motors and rad hoses fail on you at the most inconvenient time, keep driving a gasoline car I guess.

      Too many people clinging to a dying technology because they’re afraid to try something different from their routine, even if old habits are costing them more money and inconvenience. Unfortunately, some old myths about hybrids and EVs also linger (no, the batteries don’t need replacing after 8 years; and no the carbon footprint isn’t transferred to the power plant — Ontario’s power is relatively clean since getting off coal).

      A great local resource on EVs can be found here for anyone interested: https://plugndrive.ca/

  • The “Swedish study” Mr Libin refers to has already been widely discredited, or is what we nowadays call “fake news”



    The Union of Concerned Scientists recently published an update to their 2015 study and found EVs are even cleaner https://plugincars.com/new-epa-data-shows-evs-are-very-clean-and-getting-cleaner-132912.html