Attendees of the 2018 Vancouver International Auto Show will be able to test drive a number of new electrified vehicles.
BY Driving

Vancouver show’s Electric Vehicle Experience Test Drive offers up more than a dozen new rides to take for a spin

VANCOUVER — Auto industry experts have been guess-timating the so-called ‘tipping point’ for electric vehicle sales for almost a decade now, and so far the battery-powered propulsion systems still only represent a small fraction of total vehicle sales in Canada.

This despite the fact that you’d be hard-pressed to find a single global automaker that doesn’t offer some kind of electrified option in their fleet, be it fully all-electric, PHEV (plug-in-hybrid) or mild hybrid.

But drive the streets of Metro Vancouver and you’ll see plenty of these technologically advanced vehicles, their proud owners having reached their own personal tipping point to make the decision to go electric. With area fuel prices cresting the once-unfathomable buck-and-a-half per litre figure, one can’t help but think tipping points for many other over-taxed drivers are just around the corner. In addition, two of the biggest impediments to plugging into the EV craze—sticker shock and range anxiety—have been dialed down this year with the introduction of less-expensive all-electrics with full-charge ranges in the 200-km neighourhood, and beyond.

Which makes the timing of the 2018 Vancouver International Auto Show, opening at noon today, all the more relevant, in particularly its ever-evolving green ride-and-drive program, the Electric Vehicle Experience Test Drive sponsored by CEVforBC. Those with a valid driver’s licence simply sign up during the show for the opportunity to drive around downtown with a representative of the respective automaker in the passenger seat offering guidance and answering questions.
“Approximately 16-18 vehicles that qualify for the CEVforBC incentive will be available for test drives onsite,” reports show executive director Jason Heard, adding, “The Toyota / Lexus Hybrid ride and drive will offer up to 16 vehicles for test drives at the show, including their hydrogen Miria.”

Here’s a quick look at five electrified vehicles that you can take for a spin during the show.

2018 BMW i3
The all-new i3 uses a 33 kWh battery, up from the previous model’s 22 kWh pack, and BMW reports the full-charge range of the all-electric 2018 model as 183 kilometres; just over 50 km better than the first generation model. Given that the BMW ‘i’ brand—which includes the halo-like i8 coupe and spyder—serves as a showcase for the automaker’s cutting-edge technology, the new i3 comes with the latest iDrive 6 interface, which includes a navigation system specially developed for electric mobility. What that means is public charging stations and real-time information about their availability can be displayed on the nav system’s map. And when route guidance is activated, data about the route is also used to calculate the range shown in the instrument cluster as accurately as possible, and the range map provides a visual representation of the current operating radius.

2018 Honda Clarity PHEV
Despite its name, the Honda Clarity’s history has been far from clear. It started life a decade ago as the FCX Clarity, an ambitious hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that has the distinction of being the first such powered vehicle to be offered to retail customers. Now the Clarity name has been adopted as an over-arching nameplate for Honda’s entire fleet of alternative fuel vehicles (ala Toyota’s Prius brand). The Clarity plug-in hybrid (PHEV), according to Honda Canada, has a fuel economy rating of 2.1Le/100km with an all-electric range of up to 76 kilometres, meaning many Metro Vancouverites could spend most, if not all, of their daily commute on electric power. Unlike a full-electric, there’s a gasoline engine to provide the range and convenience for weekend road trips. Total system output is 212 horsepower.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
A big indication of how far electrified vehicles have come in the past few years is the number of, well, big ones in the offing. Common perception might still be that EVs are small, quirky micro-cars made for the mall and not the mountains, but that’s starting to change with plug-in SUVs from the likes of Range Rover, Chrysler, Volvo, BMW and Porsche available in B.C. right now. And now Mitsubishi joins that list with its 2018 Outlander PHEV. Despite arriving in B.C. showrooms just a couple of months ago, the Outlander PHEV has a proven track record in Europe, where it reigns at the top-selling plug-in hybrid vehicle. It’s not difficult to see why, as it delivers rugged SUV capability along with stellar fuel efficiency (3.2 LE/100km according to the company). In addition, it’s the only PHEV with DC Fast Charging capability, translating to an 80 per cent charge in less than 30 minutes.

2018 Nissan Leaf
Apart from the Tesla Model 3, the all-new, second-generation Leaf is surely the most-anticipated new all-electric vehicle to come to B.C. showrooms this year. With a full-charge range of 240 kilometres (or 40 per cent further than the 2017 model) the new Leaf also features the Canadian debut of two of Nissan’s semi-autonomous driving technologies: Pro-Pilot and e-Pedal. One more new-for-2018 aspect of the Leaf—and one that comes standard with all trims—is a Level 2 charge cable, which plugs into a 240-volt outlet (like the one your clothes dryer uses). The benefit of this is that you get the benefits of this higher output charging system—said to be 7.5 hours from nearly empty to full charge—without the need to install a Level 2 charger at your house.

2018 Toyota Mirai FCEV
When this hydrogen fuel cell vehicle debuted back in late-2014, the zero emission four-seater was billed as the world’s first commercially available FCEV. However the use of the word ‘world’ was, and three years later still is, a little misleading. Since public hydrogen-fuelling stations are as rare as Canucks’ victories, the Mirai was only available in Japan, California and select parts of Europe at its launch and very few new locales since.

One of those, however, is Quebec. FCEVs like the Mirai provide zero-emission operation with benefits not found in plug-in EVs. First and foremost, the Mirai’s full-tank range north of 500 kilometres eliminates range anxiety. And unlike the hours it takes to recharge a plug-in, refueling the Mirai takes about five minutes.

For tickets and more information visit about your chance to drive these vehicles and others during the public drive programs visit vancouverinternationalautoshow.com. The 2018 Vancouver International Auto Show takes place March 28 to April 1 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

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