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Taking A Canadian Road Trip In An EV

By Ryan Peterson (CAA Club Group)

For my wife and me, this would be our first real road trip in an electric car—a 5,000-kilometre East Coast adventure in our Tesla from our home, north of Toronto, to Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. I won’t lie. Without any experience at all with Tesla’s Supercharger network, I had driving-range anxiety. I didn’t know how charging would work on a long road trip. Before leaving Toronto, I was mapping the whole itinerary, pricing out the charging, figuring out where we’re going to stop and for how long. I would need to charge the battery to 100 percent at every stop. Turns out I was wrong. 

We bought our Tesla Model Y in May 2022. Then, last August, we decided to take this East Coast trip. On the first day, our destination is Quebec City, 800-plus kilometres away. Officially, our EV has 512 kilometres of driving range. We get in the car, punch the hotel addresses into the navigation system, and the whole journey is routed for us. Our first charging stop will be in Belleville, for seven minutes, the system tells us. As we are driving along, it notifies us that the charging station is getting pretty busy, so we’re going to charge in Kingston instead. We are automatically rerouted. How cool is that? 

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We pull up to the chargers in Kingston, which are right off the highway. We time a bathroom break plus some shopping at the convenience store close by. In 12 minutes, we’re ready to go—and so is the Tesla. The battery was recharged to about 60 percent. We hit the road and the navigation system routes us to our next charging stop, about 300 kilometres away, in Montreal. When we arrive in Quebec City that night, the battery has just 10 percent power remaining. At the hotel, we plug in for free, and by morning, the car is fully charged. 

After that first day, I realized how stress-free an EV road trip can be. My initial range anxiety was unwarranted. No major detours are required to get to a charging station. And Parks Canada has installed EV chargers, allowing us to power up at Green Gables Heritage Place in P.E.I. and along the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia. 

By choosing hotels with free EV charging, we end up at some wonderful sites we wouldn’t have found otherwise. Due to our careful planning, we experienced no range anxiety, but we did meet some drivers who expressed frustration over the lack of chargers. Clearly, there’s a need to improve the EV-charging infrastructure in Canada for drivers of all brands of electric vehicles. Meanwhile, returning home to Toronto, I pull into our driveway, not knowing how much driving range is left on our vehicle. I don’t bother looking at the battery gauge. 

And to this day, I still don’t.