Friday was EV Day in Ottawa.

EV for “electric vehicles.”

Ottawa Centre Ecodistrict hosted a car show along the Sparks Street Mall featuring dozens of locally-owned electric cars, from hybrid compact cars to top-of-the-line Porsches and Teslas.

The event was designed to let people know how far production electric vehicles have come in a few short years. "Everybody's heard manyt things about electric vehicles and there's a lot of myths involved, says Ron Groves, Outreach Manager for Plug'n Drive.

“I’ve been driving for free for about a year and a half now,” says Rockland’s Stephane Sylvester. He owns a Tesla, considered the most advanced production electric car on the market. It can go 480 kilometres on a single charge. And it will do it in a hurry. “The top speed of a Tesla is 200 kilometres per hour and it can go 0 to 100 kilometres per hour in 3.9 seconds,” he says.

So much for the argument that electric cars are slow.

Another knock against them is that they are expensive. The Tesla is guilty as charged, ranging in price from $70,000 to $140,000. But it is a top-end car with touch-screen controls and even retractable door handles. And Sylvester points out that an electric car’s extremely low need for maintenance – there are few moving parts – and no need for gas easily offset the cost. “What I was paying in gas I’m now paying in financing,” he says. “So it’s the best of both worlds.”

At the other end of the spectrum, cars like the Nissan Leaf or Mitsubishi i-MiEV still run about $10,000 more than a comparable gas-powered car. But between government incentives and the afore-mentioned savings in operating costs, owners insist they are worth it. “It’s less than a dollar to charge up,” say Chevy Volt owner Charles Hodgson.

Unlike the Tesla, lower-end cars have a more limited range of around 150 kilometres per charge. So they’re not for long road trips. There are more charging stations popping up all the time, and they’re generally free of charge, but charging can take several hours. Most people simply plug them in at home overnight, when hydro rates are cheapest, and stick to in-town use.

So perhaps they’re not for everyone. But owners and industry supporters maintain today’s electric cars are definitely worth a look.

What you find just might shock you.