The automobile industry has been saying “the future is electric” for the past several years, but that future is just now beginning to emerge in West Nipissing, with the arrival of the very first electric vehicle (EV) charging station.
The equipment was recently delivered to the local Tremblay Chevrolet, Buick, GMC dealership in Sturgeon Falls, though it won’t be installed and operational until next month. Daniel Tremblay is in charge of special projects at the dealership, and he expects to have the unit up and running by the end of June.
Tremblay says the move is no money-maker, with a hefty price tag that won’t be recouped with the projected revenue any time soon. “By the time all is said and done, this installation will have cost us about $150,000,” he explains, adding there will be fees paid to Sudbury Hydro to connect to their grid. “Changing the transformer on the post alone is almost $20,000!” He does not yet know how much charging will cost, as he waits to find out what the provincial and federal governments will be rolling out to support new stations across Ontario and Canada.
So just why is Tremblay investing in this costly new technology? Dan Tremblay says they are preparing for the rising demand for EVs, with GM now demanding all their dealerships have it. “We need to have it in order to have electric vehicles coming in from GM,” he states, adding that he expects all new vehicles will be electric by 2035. “Gas motors are not for tomorrow.”
The charging station is a large blue machine. It has a screen and two “pumps” to plug into a car. It looks pretty much like a normal gas pump. The two charging nozzles offer the choice of charging GM vehicles on the left, and all other vehicles on the right.
Dan Tremblay estimates that the machine will charge up to 80% of your battery in roughly 20 minutes, or more if two vehicles are charging simultaneously. “The emptier you are, the faster it goes. It takes much longer to charge from 80% to 100% because the battery creates resistance. That’s why we recommend that if you stop at a ‘super charger’ station like they will have at Tremblay’s, it’s best to be below 20% charged,” explains Pierre Marchand, owner of the Canadian Tire in Sturgeon Falls, and also the owner of a Tesla since August.
The ‘super charger’, he explains, “is extremely fast. To give you an idea, my home charger works on 40 amps or 220 volts. That charges for about 57 or 58 km in an hour. On a super charger, you’re at 250 volts, 240 amps. You can charge for 1200 to 1300 km in an hour.”
Since Canadian Tire was part of a Canada-wide EV station rollout, many thought Canadian Tire in Sturgeon Falls would be the first local spot with a charging station. Marchand says this is not currently in the works, but he was happy to talk about his experience as an EV owner.
“It has all the qualities you can imagine. It’s quiet, it’s comfortable, it’s powerful, it has an exceptional fuel economy. Then, you get home, connect it, and the next day you’re ready to go all over again,” he says of his Tesla car. He adds that it’s become his favourite vehicle and it is fun to drive.
However, Marchand does recognize that there are a few things to keep in mind as an EV owner. “One thing that is essential, is to have a charging station at home. If you don’t have a station at home, where we live, you have a problem because obviously you’d have to go to North Bay to charge. That’s a bit ridiculous,” he explains. The cost of installing the station was about $650 plus the services of an electrician, but the long-term costs are very low, he points out.