Jaguar’s I-Pace luxury SUV has won the Canadian SUV of the year award from the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada and it is the first electric-powered vehicle to win the prestigious award.
The I-Pace was tested and scored by automotive journalists across Canada, competing against other SUVs, crossovers and trucks in all price ranges on the market.
The Jaguar I-Pace has won numerous awards and shows that electric-powered vehicles can compete against the internal combustion engine.
By 1900, 38 per cent of U.S. automobiles were electric powered while only 22 per cent used gasoline engines. The rest were steam powered.
Performance for electric vehicles was strong, with Walter Baker setting a land-speed record of 167 kilometres per hour in 1902 — a record that stood for many years.
Electric cars were also popular because they didn’t have the smelly fumes from gasoline engines and the long start-up time of steam power.
Ironically, it was the invention of the electric starter motor in 1912 by Charles Kettering that began the electric car’s demise.
Gasoline engines no longer required the tough and dangerous task of hand cranking them to start. Then mass production of Ford’s Model T in 1913 lowered the price of a gasoline-powered car to about one third of an electric car. Economics won out.
Today, electric cars are still pricey compared to equivalent gasoline-powered models, and their resale values are still lower, but that is offset by the lower maintenance of electric powertrains and lower energy costs.
Natural Resources Canada’s Fuel Economy Guide shows fuel consumption both in kilowatt hours per 100 kilometres and in comparable litres per 100 kilometres so you can compare them to gasoline powered vehicles.
There are nine manufacturers of battery-powered electric vehicles listed in the guide, with vehicles like the Chevrolet Bolt rated at 2.0 litres per hundred kilometres, the Nissan Leaf at 2.1 litres and the Hyundai Ioniq at 1.7 litres.
Even the high-performance and luxurious Jaguar I-Pace is rated at just 3.1 litres. These vehicles are definitely cheaper to operate than gasoline powered vehicles.
One of the big detriments to electric vehicles is their range, refer to as range anxiety.
Computerized displays on modern electric vehicles show vehicle range and power use, while some will show the distance to the nearest charging station.
The NRC fuel economy guide shows vehicle range, from 92 kilometres for the Smart EQ ForTwo up to 539 kilometres for Tesla’s S100D. More common electric vehicles such as the Chevrolet Bolt have a 383-kilometre range and the new Jaguar I-Pace has a 377 kilometre range.
With ranges over 300 kilometres, range anxiety should not be a problem with these electric vehicles. Range will lowered however if accessories are used such as heated seats, air conditioning, and heaters. It is best to warm or cool vehicle interiors while they are still plugged in if possible.
As for performance, electric power is strong on torque and torque is what accelerates a vehicle.
For example, the Jaguar I-Pace will accelerate from 0-60 mph in just 4.5 seconds. That is quick. Unfortunately, any time you use power, just like gasoline powered vehicles, the range decreases.
There are three ways to charge electric vehicles. Using a common 110-volt outlet and the cord supplied with the vehicle, the battery can typically be charged overnight. Level 2 charging uses a 220/230 volt power supply and will charge the I-Pace from 0 to 80 per cent charge in about 10 hours.
Level 3 (100 kW DC fast chargers) are usually only found in commercial charging stations, are still rare an expensive to install.
These can achieve an 80 per cent charge in just 40 minutes — still not as fast as filling a gas tank but quick enough to be done over a lunch break.
Regenerative braking is another way to recharge the battery. Every time the vehicle decelerates, the powertrain can generate power back into the battery.
This can increase range significantly if the braking system is used effectively.
All auto manufacturers are adding hybrid and electric vehicles to their lineups.
They still work best in moderate climates and cross-country trips can be a challenge unless you are not in a hurry.
With battery technology improving rapidly, it is quite possible there could be electric vehicles in all our futures.
Jim Kerr is a master automobile mechanic and teaches automotive technology.