EV Charging in Regina

This blog post is a 7 month update to my earlier summary of the status of EV charging in Regina.

Most EV owners charge at home, where they park for the night.

Better EV drivers charge where their shared car is parked, at a car sharing parking spot. None exist yet in Saskatchewan, but Saskatoon Car Share Co-op is actively working on providing that.

Ottawa has been talking about improving EV infrastructure for Canadians, but so far Saskatchewan isn’t part of that conversation with the feds. While private businesses have done a great deal with help from Sun Country Highways to build up Level 2 charging in many Canadian communities, the more rapid Level 3 chargers are out of reach for the average Canadian outside of BC, Quebec, or southern Ontario. The City of Regina has been unhelpful also, and the Province of Saskatchewan directed SGI to end a low-emissions vehicle rebate years ago. Former Minister McMillian now is the President of the Canadian Ass. of Petrol’ Producers. No conflict there, eh?

That’s right, Shell is beating the Canadian government on installing Level 3 chargers, albeit in the UK. Will Shell in Canada beat the EV-lovin’ Environment and Climate Change Minister on the mission to electrify Canada’s highway network?

P.S. Our Leaf cannot make use of Level 3 charging; we got it without one installed. Why bother, when there are 0 available in Saskatchewan? It charges on Level 1 at the house, or Level 2 at Peavey Mart or Winmar if going out of town. Thanks Sun Country Highway!

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A Tale About Buying an Electric Car

There’s no place to buy a used Electric Vehicle in Regina, in 2017. This is a problem. It’s one I don’t have the ability to solve, but it affects me because I’m interested in helping people know how to get an electric car if they live in southern Saskatchewan.

There was a site my friend had directed me to, and it had less selection and higher prices than I was looking for. I started looking earlier this year, and the prices on Auto Trader, although better, were still a few too many thousands of dollars out of my price range. I put the project on hold until the new Nissan Leaf was set to be announced in early September. After patiently dealing with a sluggish salesperson for a couple days in Port Moody over phone-tag, I found a 2014 Leaf SV in Vancouver for $16000, with the features I was looking for, and put a $500 down payment on it easily by credit card. Then, the real difficulties began…

I bank with several different banks. The one with the money for the car is not a Big 5, but it’s owned by the Big 5. They don’t have a SWIFT code, which is apparently required to send money by wire transfer. It would have been at least 2 days to move the money to another bank, and $50 to wire it, or $10 to buy a bank draft and courier it to me. I chose the latter, and Purolator didn’t successfully leave me a notice of the delivery. I phoned the bank 3 days later asking what was going on, and they said it was already in Regina. The following morning I went to pick it up, and courier it to the auto dealer in Vancouver. That evening, I got word that my Dad had passed away.

The following week, I got a paper to sign and send back, which I did electronically, and was soon told the car would ship and be in Regina at Regina Honda by “mid-week”. When Wednesday rolled around, and I didn’t get a phone call, I got in touch with the sales person (who was the 2nd I dealt with, as the first one left employment at the Vancouver dealer in the meantime). They noted the car hadn’t been picked up by the shipping company yet! They got a new promise of 7-10 days from the following day when it would be picked up, he assured me. I suggested a partial refund of $200 may be in order. He and his manager were not eager to make such a deal.

Day 10 was about to roll around, so I called to get some facts, and they said it was set to be delivered on Monday. I was hoping for the Friday, but close enough. On Monday, no phone call arrived. I called the Regina Dealer, to check it hadn’t been dropped off, and it hadn’t. The Vancouver sales person emailed the shipping company and asked them to contact me with what happened. They suggested that they hoped it would be in Regina a week later!

I was not pleased. I suggested that was unacceptable. My salesperson agreed, and also demanded better of the shipping company Car-Fre’.

3 and a half weeks waiting for it to arrive was too long. The dealer/shipper missed 2 self-imposed delivery dates. The Port Moody dealer finally admitted they were taking too long, and promised a $500 refund of the $1000 to ship it, which I happily accepted.

It arrived October 19, 2017, at Regina Honda on Broad St. The truck operator unloaded it, it was conveniently placed at the back of the semi trailer. I went to Galon Insurance down the street, they collected the PST, the conditional 28 day registration, gave me a plate, and I bought an AutoPak from SMI, it was about $40 less than SGI’s. I didn’t have a wrench with me to get the new plate on, so a salesperson at Regina Honda helped me out. As we walked to the vehicle, they asked why we didn’t buy directly from them, “You don’t sell it, unfortunately.”

I got back to work, and parking was temporarily free in the lot I picked, BONUS! It should be free-ish for EVs anyway, at this point in Regina’s history, at least until they become much more common.

I’d hoped to be able to offer a template to others so they could copy my experience, but it’s better if they don’t. While the Port Moody Honda dealer eventually made things better with the partial shipping refund, they weren’t really keen on shipping out of province, and only do it a few times a year.

The shipping company dropped the ball completely. They only came through at the end because an auto-dealer lit a fire under their butts. Their latest review on Yellowpages was from another unhappy customer. If your expectation is that it’ll arrive sometime long after promised, they’re good enough. If you want it the same month, try another method.

If you’ve enough money for a new car, a more immediate method of getting an EV to Regina would be to buy one at Evergreen Nissan in Prince Albert. It’s 400km away though, so you’ll still need to ship it, or take a full day or two to drive it down to Regina. Maybe Regina Nissan will catch on, or be dragged into the future not too long from me writing this.

UPDATE: The PST and shipping refunds arrived at the end of October by mail.

More Vague First World Problems

I made a large purchase last week Tuesday, and have had problems paying for it. Oh, I’ve got the money, I mean I’ve had some difficulty sending it to the seller. I put a deposit down instantly over the phone by credit card, that was easy enough, but sending the bulk of the funds due has required over a week. This is in part due to the seller’s sluggishness in contacting me with payment details, and partly due to how modern banking is set up.

My smaller bank, which is actually a part of a Big 5 big Canadian bank, doesn’t have a SWIFT code to send wire transfers, so I had to select a bank draft option for $10. It was that, or wait 2-3 business days to move the money electronically to another bank, to pay them $50 to wire it. Then they couriered me the draft (couldn’t send it directly to the seller, oh no). Purolator didn’t leave a delivery notice, or a bozo stole it, or the wind blew it away, so I waited an extra day before complaining to the bank about the slow delivery. They gave me the tracking number and said it was in the city. I picked it up, and turned it around back into the system for almost $25 to be at the seller by next day.

Why not Interac email? They’ve a $3K/day limit, and the seller only wanted wired money, or a bank draft (certified cheque). Why not credit card? Something like a 2.5% merchant fee, so the seller would take a few hundred dollars hit. Why not Bitcoin? Because they’ve not set up to take it, and convert it into dollars at their end (or hold it, more sensibly). It could be a lot easier than multiple phone calls to banks, and an early morning trip to the industrial side of town where Regina doesn’t even have sidewalks or bike lanes to get there.

Transportation Not Meeting Demand

It’s been kind of a bad year for transportation in Saskatchewan. Aside from the potential Supercharger for Swift Current, there haven’t been many tangible bright spots for Saskatchewan.

  • Premier Wall rejects the carbon tax plan to reduce emissions
  • SGI says they’re not considering a rebate on Zero Emission Vehicles, as they once had 5 years ago until Minister McMillian of SGI (now President McMillian of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Procurers) cancelled the rebate. Gee, no bad optics there, right? Just an oil industry lobbyist directly encouraging people to buy trucks over EV or hybrid vehicles.
  • The SaskParty closed and sold off the STC Crown, with no replacement for bus service apparently in mind. As a result, there’s no bus service between Saskatoon and Regina! I emailed a company reported in the news as seeking to offer service, and they replied:

    We have not been approved for scheduled passenger service yet

    Sincerely
    Mitch Blyth
    General Manager
    Carpe Diem Group featuring our new Land Jet mobile office division.
    Regina, Saskatoon & Yorkton Sk.
    []531-9626

  • Cumberland House still doesn’t have sufficient transportation to/from it.
  • Via Rail offered unlimited $150 passes and travel in July to youth under 25, then only to 1867 youth, then several thousand, but stopped before demand was satisfied, and failed to offer the pass for additional months, or add additional train service to meet the obvious demand. Saskatchewan only has Via service to 2 cities, Saskatoon and Melville. Regina, Moose Jaw, and Swift Current are left out even though they are on the Trans-Canada as is Calgary in Alberta.

Considering I was hoping a passenger rail line between Saskatoon and Regina could one day be built, it’s especially appalling that the government has ended bus service between the major cities this year.

So what can one person do? I attended the large rally at STC headquarters in March. I’ve pushed on City Council several times encouraging them to have Regina Transit buy STC resources and operate it on profitable routes as a money maker for the City, while providing a valuable service the province has abdicated itself from.

Disruption of Used Car Market And Transportation Norms

By 2025 we’ll see:

“Cities will ban human drivers once the data confirms how dangerous they can be behind a wheel. This will spread to suburbs, and then beyond. There will be a “mass stranding of existing vehicles”

“The value of second-hard cars will plunge. You will have to pay to dispose of your old vehicle.”

No more petrol or diesel cars, buses, or trucks will be sold anywhere in the world within eight years. The entire market for land transport will switch to electrification, leading to a collapse of oil prices and the demise of the petroleum industry as we have known it for a century.

This is the futuristic forecast by Stanford University economist Tony Seba. His report, with the deceptively bland title Rethinking Transportation 2020-2030, has gone viral in green circles and is causing spasms of anxiety in the established industries.

“The cost per mile for EVs will be 6.8 cents, rendering petrol cars obsolete. Insurance costs will fall by 90 per cent. The average American household will save $5,600 per year by making the switch. The US government will lose $50 billion a year in fuel taxes. ”

“The Robot Revolution Will Take Your Car, Your Mom’s Car, and All the Oil in 13 Years”

“Countries that fail to lead or make a transition to TaaS will become the 21st century equivalents of horse-based countries trying to compete with economies whose transportation systems are based on cars, trucks, tractors and airplanes”, concludes the RethinkX report.

 

Still More Hawaiian Sights

Pearl Harbor

The 3rd day of driving, we headed toward the old Dole Plantation. After climbing a hill on the freeway, the Leaf’s battery was a little depleted especially since we started off at 66% since we couldn’t charge it overnight. We aimed for a free charger at a decidedly not-free health care clinic.

There was a huge solar array covered car-park behind it, and we circled the building only to finally find an EV charger that was either out of service, or not compatible with our EV. After learning from the support number on it that the troubleshooting steps I’d taken weren’t sufficient, we popped over to Tony Nissan to charge up. There were 3 Leafs there already, and only 2 chargers. One soon left after a couple minutes, and another Leaf rolled up with no miles remaining on the guessometer. I let him charge first, and we talked about his vehicle so I could learn more about owning an EV. The CHAdeMO charger at Tony had been broken for some time, and I overheard it wasn’t being repaired for months longer. That seemed totally unacceptable to me, but that’s what Nissan corporate in the USA wanted to do. Tony had shelled out $9000 already once to fix the cord on the charger, but it’d broken in some way again. I think there’s probably a design flaw, and some sort of replacement unit going in their place in the next few months.

We got our time on the charger, and rolled back down the hill and over to the other half of Pearl Ridge Mall that we had skipped the day before. This time we rode the Monorail over to the side with the giant Cook map on the floor, where we’d charged the car after the Tesla vacated the charging spot I waited 40 minutes for. We had to check all of the chargers before finding an available one. Another Leaf, and a BMW i3 were on the upper parkade chargers.

While charging, we had lunch, and shopped around a bit for jewelry and such. I popped out to see how the car was doing, and a young woman was charging her Leaf instead. Curious, I asked what was up, and she had to be across the island for a deadline of some sort, and apologized for interrupting my charging. I said it was okay, and to just plug me back in when she had enough for her destination.

Pearl Harbor

Then we went over to Pearl Harbor as it was closing, parked nearby, took some photos, parked again, took more photos, and got out of the lot just before they locked it up for the night.

Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor

We drove past an unfinished freeway hanging over us in the air, and through Honolulu killing time exploring while on our way to return the Leaf to Autoland.
Pearl Harbor

electric tree
An electric Leaf definitely needs an electric tree!

We enjoyed the sunset at the coast in a park, with some cats, newly married couples, and a few homeless people in tents.
cat fed in Kaka'ako park

wedding in park

The SaskParty’s Deaf Ears & Dumb Cuts

It’s staggering that the province is willing to spend multitudes more money on redundant highway so people can avoid going to Regina, than they are to improve literacy.

Don Morgan is out of touch, and wrong.

The Saskatchewan Library Trustees’ Association said in a news release after the budget that Morgan has said the province “should be getting out of bricks and mortar libraries and people should be focusing on electronic or alternate media.”

The association said it was “deeply disappointed and discouraged that the work we have done promoting the value of Saskatchewan’s libraries has fallen on deaf ears.

“Had the government been listening they would know that libraries are indeed working with promoting and developing technologies. Libraries are the wave of the future.”