"Go like the Wind" Mark McKinney - First Dates with David Miller

ELECTRIC VEHICLES (EVs) have been around since the early nineteenth century, and, at one point in the early 1900s, were one of the most popular forms of motor transportation.

By 1935, however, almost all electric vehicles disappeared due to the development of gasoline-powered cars, which were more affordable and widely available at the time. The emergence of higher quality roads allowed for vehicles with a longer range, and the electric car lacked this capacity. The discovery of Texas crude oil and the fact that many people also did not have electricity at the time – making owning an electric vehicle impractical – also furthered the proliferation of gas-powered cars.

But now, with climate change a growing concern, and fossil fuels a big part of the problem, EVs are making a comeback. Places like Norway and California have already been successful with this initiative. In Norway, 1 in 8 vehicles are electric, while the ratio is 1 to 34 in California.

In Canada, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) hopes to combat climate change by putting more EVs on the roads and reducing carbon emissions. Electric vehicle sales were up by 79 per cent in Canada this year, with British Columbia achieving the fastest growing rate and Quebec a close second. Ontario is still behind with EVs making up just 1 in 224 cars.

To kick things into a higher gear, the WWF has partnered with Plug’n Drive to promote the Transportation rEVolution program, which supports the switch to electric vehicles in Canada. Their goal is to have EVs make up 10 per cent of car sales in Canada by 2020.

The 2014 status report released by the WWF outlines changes needed concerning electric vehicles in Canada, in order to achieve the organization’s ultimate goal of 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050. To get there, improvements in vehicle pricing, charging infrastructure, the public’s awareness and experience, availability and the scope of environmental benefits are all needed.

David Miller, president and CEO of WWF Canada and former Mayor of Toronto, has decided to promote electric vehicles by taking celebrities Jessi Cruickshank, Mark McKinney and Susur Lee on “first dates” in his electric car, resulting in entertaining videos. Miller's first date with McKinney can be viewed above.

Highlights include Miller taking Lee to see the MaRs Centre to view local food (honey) and checking out all the bees in the rooftop beehives. McKinney climbed the Exhibition Place wind turbine tower at the end of his date, and Cruickshank expresses how little she knows about EVs, which is pretty entertaining. Cruickshank and Miller accelerate at a high speed, exceeding the speed limit, which is comical considering Miller’s former position as mayor of Toronto.

“Those videos were designed to be…just like the electric vehicle – fun and kind of different,” said Miller.

Miller also uses these dates to educate viewers and dispel some myths about EVs.

For example, there is a common misconception that it is very difficult to charge the cars, when in reality it’s very easy – you can plug new EVs into any 120-volt outlet.

A lack of charging infrastructure remains a barrier, but this will hopefully change by the year 2020, with the WWF’s goal to have 30,000 workplace and public charging stations implemented by then.

Where infrastructure does exist, charging is quite simple – and inexpensive. Plugging a car in at home adds about $2.00 to your electricity bill. Some charging stations on commercial properties or condominiums are even free of charge at the moment because of such low costs.

Another current barrier is the upfront cost of electric vehicles. The cars themselves are still fairly expensive, despite being more cost-effective in the long-term.

Many governments currently provide subsidies to help offset the purchase price, and the price will continue to drop over time as the manufacturing cost declines and the cars become more popular.

In addition to being environmentally friendly, EVs also have fast acceleration, making them a very smooth – and safe – drive. The incredible pick-up capabilities help when maneuvering around condensed traffic in a city.

“It’s the right thing to do with respect to climate change, and its also really fun and a great way to get around a city,” finished Miller.

Daina is A\J's LSPIRG Editorial Intern, a Communication Studies student at Laurier, and a reporter for The Cord.

If you liked this article, please subscribe or donate today to support our work.

A\J moderates comments to maintain a respectful and thoughtful discussion.
Comments may be considered for publication in the magazine.