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LiveSmart BC - Blog

LiveSmart BC - Blog

Update: Thanks to our readers for thier positive response to this article.
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October 12, 2011

Introducing the Beckett Electric Truck

LiveSmart BC is always proud to feature Climate Action Heroes from across the province. Be they small businesses in the green marketplace, or family farms reducing GHG emissionspublic servants supporting carbon neutrality, or school districts adopting alternative energy... we love sharing your success stories.

This week’s article is a follow up on our last blog post, Make it a Green Autumn on the Road, where we told you about ways (and upcoming initiative campaigns) to reduce your carbon footprint while travelling, especially on your daily commute.

It was during the aforementioned BC Public Service’s 3rd Annual “Target Green Streets” that we discovered Doug Beckett from Prince George.  Doug was greening up his commute to work by driving an electric truck.  We asked him to share his story... and here is what he had to say:

LiveSmart BC: So, what can you tell us about this mean, green machine?

Doug: My wife’s electric truck has been on the road for almost 3 years now in Prince George.  It is a 1991 GMC Sonoma that was converted by the Prince George College Heights High School mechanics class. To make the conversion a little easier, my wife purchased a conversion kit from Canadian Electric Vehicles Ltd. (canev) on Vancouver Island.

LiveSmart BC: Cool... so, how fast does it go?

Doug: Living outside the city limits, we ensured the truck would be able to travel in excess of 100 km/hour – which it does easily.

LiveSmart BC: Not too shabby! What’s your power supply? Any performance issues?

Doug: Initially the truck was equipped with 24 deep cycle Lead-Acid batteries weighing about 1700 lbs.  We had trouble reaching highway speed on cold winter days with cold lead-acid batteries. We recently upgraded to 44 Lithium (200 amp hour) batteries with a total weight of about 700 lbs, and installed a heating pad under these new batteries. We now expect the truck to be a year-round highway-commuting vehicle.  Had we lived in town, the old set-up would have been no problem at all.

LiveSmart BC: Great stuff! Where do you plug in the vehicle?  Do you require a special recharge station?

Doug: When we got the electric vehicle, we had a 125-volt, 30-amp outlet installed at the edge of our driveway for faster recharging.   We were also able to do a slow charge from any standard (120-volt, 15-amp) household outlet.  In upgrading to the Lithium batteries, we lost the ability charge from the standard household outlet.  Though, this could be corrected if we were to buy a new charger.  In the meantime we need a 20-amp or 30-amp outlet.

LiveSmart BC: Gotcha. So, when you do get into town, where do you park it?

Doug: As long as we are driving within range, we can park anywhere (don't need a charge).  When we had the lead-acid batteries, we recharged at at friend's house a couple of times when driving further than the batteries would take us.  Now with the Lithium batteries, we are able to recharge from a 20-amp outlet while parked in the university (UNBC) electric vehicle parking space. While the staff at the City of Prince George have been helpful in identifying parking locations with standard (120-volt, 15-amp) electrical outlets, they have not informed us of any 20-amp or 30-amp outlets yet.

LiveSmart BC: Okay. So, what is your range? How far can you drive before you have to recharge the batteries?

Doug: The range is much greater now with the Lithium batteries.  The furthest we drove with the lead-acid batteries was 54 kilometers, and the truck was limping along the last couple of those kilometres.  Without a grand selection of locations to recharge, we have been cautiously expanding how far we drive the truck.  While the furthest we have driven so far with the Lithium batteries is 61 kilometeres, my calculations suggest a normal range of 97 kilometers (drawing down the batteries by 80%) and up to 121 kiliometers in an emergency (drawing down the batteries by 100%).

LiveSmart BC: That's great! How long does it take to charge?

Doug: You can partially charge here and there during your day, as you do not need to fully recharge the batteries.  When the batteries are low, it takes about 10 hours for a full recharge from a 30-amp outlet.  I understand the commecially built electric vehicles will recharge within hours with their special recharge stations.

LiveSmart BC: About what cost for electricity?

Doug: It appears to be costing us a little more than 1 cent of electricity per kilometre.

LiveSmart BC: Well besides the obvious money-savings on fuel, what were you and your wife’s motivations for taking on this project?

Doug: We wanted an electric vehicle, as it is better for the environment.  It also feels good knowing we are not making the Prince George air quality worse.  As a bonus, there are no oil changes to pay for and the maintenance costs are lower. 

LiveSmart BC: Doug, do you have anything-else you would like to add?

Doug: Thank you for showing an interest in our EV truck.  I would appreciate if others, especially others in the interior/north, would get in contact with us to share experiences.

LiveSmart BC: Thanks so much for sharing your story, Doug!

So, if you are so inclined, take Doug’s example and convert your stock vehicle to electric! (just don’t forget to let ICBC know the new fuel type).  Otherwise, there are plenty of electric-vehicle options showing up in BC showrooms: from the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid to the Nissan Leaf, and Mitsubishi's i-MiEV to the Chevy Volt... and the list grows on.

Which would you choose? Conversion or Stock electric?
- Let us know by adding your comments to our Facebook Page.

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