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B.C. YouTuber breaks down the realities of switching to an electric car

Filip Dabrowski of YouTube channel Left Coast EV talks all things electric, including how the Sea to Sky measures up.

Filip Dabrowski pulls into Squamish's Garibaldi Village mall to charge his 2021 Kia Soul EV at the Electrify Canada charging station in front of London Drugs. 

He likes what he finds and tells the camera that it is a great place to stop and charge.

Dabrowski has a YouTube channel, Left Coast EV, where he records his experiences and reviews. 

Dabrowski, who works for an insurance company by day, and his wife, own two EVs, the Kia and a 2021 Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus.

He says so many people were asking him about electric cars that he started making videos and doing reviews about them. 

With current gas prices giving folks sticker shock it is not surprising more drivers may be thinking anew about going electric. So, we reached out to Dabrowski for the scoop.

What follows is an edited version of that conversation.

How is Squamish for its charging? 

For a small town right in the middle between Vancouver and Whistler, which is one of the busiest roads in B.C., the infrastructure is great, because you guys have not only that fast charger by London Drugs, which is Electrify Canada, you also have BC Hydro in town, and then there's another fast charger by the liquor store you can access through SWTCH. Those are all non-Tesla chargers. Then there is the Tesla Supercharger station by Boston Pizza.

Why and when did you switch from a gas vehicle to an electric?

I was always thinking about electric; a lot of my friends have electric cars. Teslas are cool, but everybody buys a Tesla. In Vancouver, throw a rock and you hit a Tesla. 

So, I wanted to go a little bit different route and try my hand at driving a car that doesn't have a network attached to it. 

I decided to go for the Kia. I have a Tesla now too, though, because I switched my second car to an electric.

We don't spend much money on charging and we don't spend any money on gas and when it's $2 per litre, you know, you save a lot of money.

Do you have a charger installed at your house?

No, I live in a condo actually, and it is very old-school. The building is a bit older — it was built before the BC Hydro and B.C. government CleanBC action plan took place. 

If you have a new condo, then you can install a charger no problem because they have the infrastructure. 

But I'm lucky enough to live in central Coquitlam where, within minutes, I'm at the Coquitlam City Hall and then they have free charging. It's not super quick, but it's good enough for us. 

Overnight, we just park the car there, plug in and charge. 

So, actually, it doesn't cost me anything to drive right now.

But what if someone else wants to charge and pulls the plug on yours? 

We have three free charging stations and then we have two where you pay $1 an hour and it charges a little bit quicker. 

Those of us in the area who drive EVs got together and just agreed to put a piece of paper on the windshield. And if somebody really needs a charge, they just give me a call — I'm five minutes away.

Looking at the price of gas right now — it is 209.9 cents per litre right now in Squamish — you must be glad you switched? 

It is one of the best things that I've ever done. And ICBC insurance is a little cheaper for electric cars, too.

But you know, the upfront costs of electric cars mean, for some people, it is still not attainable. 

You have to really think about the longevity of the car — how many years you're going to keep it — to kind of make that money back over time.

It's still, for a lot of people, cheaper to just go get the cheapest gas car.

But, if you have the money and you're kind of on the fence — you want to buy a nice semi-luxury gas car, or, a middle-of-the-road electric car, I would definitely say go for electric. There's no maintenance; there's nothing. You just drive it.

What about range anxiety? What happens if you are driving and haven't charged enough and run out of power? 

My Kia has roadside assistance for five years, so I just press a button and a tow truck comes and picks me up. But I also have to tell you that in my Kia, zero doesn't mean zero or like 0% on your battery. There is still a buffer of around five to 10%.

So there's a six-kilowatt buffer that you never get to use, but it's always there, just in case. I've never run out of energy yet. I've driven with 0% for about 15 to 20 minutes to a charger, and I had no issues.

Back to range anxiety, what if I want to go on a road trip to, say, the Yukon. Am I going to make it in an electric car?

The Yukon is on my bucket list. I'm actually planning a route this summer where I'm going to try to get to Whitehorse because there are not as many chargers up there. So, you would have to charge at hotels. But again, all you need is a plug, even a household plug will do. You're not going to charge your car really fast, but it's a charge. I contacted a few hotels along the way and they said I can charge there, no problem. If you show up and you have your own charging equipment, you can just plug in and then off you go.

If they have a higher power plug like for a dryer, and you have your adapter, you can charge even faster.

Yes, there is a little bit of thinking and planning ahead that you need to do. But if are a little resourceful, I think you can make it. 

Other places, no problem. 

Last year, my family and I travelled 3,500 kilometres across B.C. into Alberta to Jasper then to Prince George and back home to Coquitlam. We had no issues. We never ran out of energy. 

We never found a charger that was broken, you know, and I just want to show people that you can live your life with an electric car just as you would with a gas car, save a lot of money and protect the environment.

When you look at electric infrastructure, what do you see? What do you think it will become? 

Right now, the biggest problem with adoption is that the entry price for the world of EV is very expensive, right? So I think that's what's holding the spread of more infrastructure back right now. People are not buying them as much as I would want them to in order to expand the network, because it all depends on how many cars are on the road. I would say that probably in about 10 years, we will see double what we have today. Definitely, maybe even triple.

What are some misconceptions you hear about driving an EV that you would like to clear up? 

Maybe related to the concerns about them when it's cold. That if you get stuck on a highway, because there's a blizzard, you are only going to have like four hours of battery left, and then you're gonna die.

You can turn on an electric car and keep it running with the heater on for two days, three days if you had to. 

When we were travelling around B.C. and Alberta, we camped one night where there were so many mosquitoes, we had to sleep inside the car. So, I just kept the car on for the whole night, with the air conditioning on 20 degrees. It was perfect. We just used about, I think, 2% energy from the battery.

Next week during spring break, I am going to bring my son to that campground near Squamish at Porteau Cove camping for one night and just show people how much energy you use if you run the whole HVAC system and all of that.