Getting charged up on transportation with an electric vehicle

Tina Comeau
Published on April 28, 2014

Jim MacLeod charges up his car using an electric car charging station in the Collins Street parking lot. TINA COMEAU PHOTO

By Tina Comeau



Jim MacLeod has always been somewhat of a transportation trailblazer when it comes to getting around Yarmouth.

True, he saves his penny-farthing bicycle for the Seafest parade. His Segway on the other hand – a two-wheeled, battery powered electric vehicle – we see the pharmacist and deputy mayor out and about on more often.

But MacLeod and his wife also make use of another form of transportation, this being an electric vehicle they purchased around 18 months ago. So far their family, to MacLeod’s knowledge, is the only one in Yarmouth driving this particular kind of electric vehicle his family owns. Theirs is a Chevrolet Volt that they purchased from Murray GM. The dealership says aside from MacLeod, they’ve only sold one other to a person from the Halifax area.

And so for that reason there isn’t a line-up of vehicles when MacLeod is needing to charge his car using a vehicle-charging unit that the Town of Yarmouth installed a few months ago in the Collins Street parking lot. But the charging station is there for anyone who may need it, and that’s what’s important.

Still, although there aren’t many others driving this type of vehicle, it doesn’t mean people aren’t interested in it, MacLeod says.

“I think people are certainly inquisitive. I get asked about it regularly,” he says. “Some weeks I can go by with no questions and then some days I can get two or three a day.”

The electric vehicle-charging unit in the Collins Street parking lot was provided to the town by Nova Scotia EV Highway Services as part of an initiative to install a network of publicly accessible charging units across the province to encourage the use of electric vehicles. The goal has been to have charging units available in the province every 70 or 100 kilometres from one another. There are chargers popping up across the province. The Municipality of Digby, for instance, has one and has been considering adding another one or more other charging stations.

Nova Scotia EV Highway Services received a NS Moves grant to assist its efforts to create a province-wide network for plug-in cars. While the total cost of the initiative is approximately $3,700 per charging station, the Town of Yarmouth’s cost was only $700.

As of earlier this month, MacLeod had used 524.4 litres of fuel while having driven his vehicle 18,397 kilometres. He wasn’t able to charge his vehicle for a couple of months over the winter. If he had, he says, his fuel consumption would have been less.

“I don’t understand the technically as much as I should,” he says. “I only appreciate it.”

It takes four hours to go from an empty charge to a full charge. For MacLeod, a full battery charge can provide up to 42 kilometres of traveling before having to rely on fuel. Because they do most of the traveling within town, MacLeod says he and his wife get by most of the time without ever having to revert to fuel. But if he were traveling a long distance and the battery charge was used up, the car would make the seamless transition to the onboard gas-powered generator.

MacLeod admits the cost of electric cars isn’t cheap, which is why more people likely don’t have them. When he purchased his car, which wasn’t brand new, he paid $40,000 for it. He says the cost of the new vehicles has come down since his purchase. The electric car is one of two vehicles his family has. It is a type of vehicle that will always be in their driveway, MacLeod says.

 “Even though the technology isn’t perfect, I’m invested in it,” he says. “I’m not going to go back to only owning strictly a gasoline car.”


(With files from Belle Hatfield.)