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Electric Car & Condominiums

 Loves Young Dream: The Possible Relationship between the Electric Car and the Condominium by Nordene L Stacey



With no signs of the price of petroleum slowing down and our society’s urge to be more eco friendly,  we’re are always looking for alternative options to get us from A to B. One of these options is to purchase an electric car.  An electric car “is a car powered by an electric motor rather than a gasoline engine.”(Source: howstuffworks.com) But why trade in your gasoline powered car for an electric one?  Well for one thing, electric cars are environmentally friendly. Since electric cars don’t use gasoline, these cars won’t pollute the air and plants with nasty fumes. So, how does an electric car work? Just like a conventional gasoline car, an electric car has a motor. The only difference is that the motor uses electricity stored by a battery to get the car moving instead of gasoline. (Source: ehow.com)

Although there is more in the news about electric cars and their technologies, electric cars are not a new thing.  In fact electric cars have been around since the late 1800s and were much preferred over its combustion motor cousin due its quiet motor and no exhaust fumes.  However, with roads being further developed, car owners wanted to travel further distances at higher speeds. This demand for speed was met with automatic starters, (an upgrade from when cars were hand-cranked to start) cheaper oil and the mass production of the combustion car; all of which contributed to the downfall of electric cars in the late 1920s. (Sources: npr.org and documentary: “Who Killed the Electric Car?”  written and directed by Chris Paine, produced by Jessie Deeter, premiered at Sundance Film Festival 2006)

On record, it was around the late 1960s when the electric car was revisited as a means to fight against air pollution. In the late 1990s, some of the major car companies such as GM and Honda introduced an electric car in their line up but gave consumers a lease only option. However, all this changed in the early 2000s for a number of different uncertain reasons (politics, consumer knowledge, technology, etc) and the major car companies started removing their electric cars off the road; bringing, what one could consider, the second downfall of the electric car.  However, this downfall was short lived. By the late 2000s, with government support in countries such as Israel, Japan, Canada, Australia, Demark and the United States, the electric car was(and still is) being campaigned as an possible solution to our growing environmental, health and fuel price problems. (Source: pbs.org)

In Ontario, the provincial government has plans to grow the infrastructure to support the use of electric cars. The Ontario government already supports the purchase of electric vehicles through an incentive program. Consumers can receive up to $10,000 in rebates upon purchasing an electric vehicle.(Source: cbc.ca) Working with Infrastructure Ontario, the province plans on funding $80 million into the development of electric car charging station from chosen proposed projects submitted from both the public and private sectors that plan on building, testing and making widely available electric car charging stations to the public. (Source: news.ontario.ca) The Ontario government’s motivation to support a move towards electric cars in order to create jobs, reduce smog and to create a green alternative to getting your family around is wonderful. So it’s agreed, electric cars have the potential to be a good thing.   

But why stop there? Why not take this whole electric car project to another level by implementing the building, testing and availability of electric car charging stations into newly built or renovated facilities such as multi unit residential buildings? In other words condominiums? Like the electric car is self, this possible relationship between the electric car and condominiums brings much debate.  Peter Gorrie talks about why condo boards may be against their residents purchasing electric cars in his article titled “Condo Residents Warned Against Purchasing Electric Cars” (Source: Toronto Star, January 28th 2011).  One of the arguments put forward is the age of the condo. Many of the older condos weren’t built to support electric car technology, and raises the issue of who pays the cost of charging the vehicle, since the electricity bill is shared among residents.  This argument was also the centre point in a CBC news story featuring an Ottawa man who is fighting against the condo board of his building because they don’t want him to charge his electric car. (Source: CBC.ca)

Ok, so the older condominiums many not be equipped to handle electric car technology. How about newly built condominiums or condominiums in development? Well according to Alex Newman’s article featured in the National Post (Source: life.nationalpost.com, “Quiet Riot: Condo Developer Catch On To the Electric Car.” October 22nd 2011), some condo developers are preparing for a future that includes the electric car although uncertain about the technology. Newman’s article discuss how condo developers are ensuring that parking spaces are equipped with the appropriate electric outlet or rough-in electrical conduits to service electric cars that may be purchased by future residents.

Like you the question on my mind is: what will the future hold for the relationship between the electric car and condominiums?


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About rascom1

Enthusiastic, entrepreneurial believer in using greener, sustainable methods to build new and to maintain old structures. I spent many years promoting the use of Insulated Concrete Form construction in building envelopes, and the last few years engaged in retrofitting old mechanical (hvac) systems in condominium, rental and commercial buildings, taking advantage of recent rebate programs that gave money back to people willing to invest in reducing energy consumption. I strongly believe we need to to things better, be kinder to both ourselves and the environment! For the kids, people, for the kids!!!! :)


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