Driving across Canada is an amazing experience. Doing it in an electric vehicle adds a whole other layer. From the shores of Gaspe to Vancouver’s Stanley Park, here are my takeaways from my road trip across Canada in an electric vehicle.
Quebec Is Ahead of the Curve
It was fitting that I picked up my Tesla Model Y in Quebec. The province is leading the charge (literally) when it comes to EV charging infrastructure.
The Electric Circuit has over 3,000 charging stations covering Quebec and Eastern Ontario and every hotel I stayed out along the way offered charging options. This made it that much easier to pick up my vehicle with peace of mind that I was not going to get stranded. I was so confident that I immediately went 1,500 km off the Tesla Supercharger network for a bucket list trip around the Gaspe Peninsula.
The Prairies Have Some Catching Up To Do
On the flip side of picking up the vehicle in Quebec was that I quickly got spoiled with the charting options. As I moved west, these options bottomed out drastically. I found that Saskatchewan and Alberta have the worst coverage when it comes to EV chargers. This really limits anyone in an EV wanting to explore anything off the Trans-Canada in these provinces.
One of the only times on this trip where I had range anxiety was when I tried to go from Saskatoon to Calgary via Drumheller. Not only did this route cut over an hour off my trip, but it would have gotten me to the Royal Tyrrell Diansaour Museum in Drumheller.
Looking at Plug Share, a community-driven EV charging app, there were no options along the 400 km+ stretch except for an L2 charger 3/4 of the way that and it was questionable if it was working. It was located at a grocery store that moved locations and the last user (about a month prior) said that it still worked after asking the manager of the new location to turn the power on. I called ahead to see if this was an option but the manager had no way to test it so when I couldn’t get confirmation we decided to backtrack to the Trans-Canada Highway, adding an additional 100 km+ to the trip.
Tesla’s Superchargers Are Amazing
That said, if you stick to the TransCanada highway on your EV toad trip across the country, you have plenty of options. Petro Canada has the Electric Highway, connecting the country coast-to-coast with fast chargers at select gas stations.
Tesla has their Superchargers which are, in a word, amazing. Not only are they well spread out, but they are also super fast and convenient. Often they are next to restaurants or Tim Horton’s. It never felt incovienct or time consuming. Actually, I the car was often ready to go before I was.
On top of that, the Tesla in-car navigation makes it super simple by calculating all the Supercharger stops along the way. It even preconditions the battery as you approach to make charging that much faster.
That Said, Superchargers Aren’t Perfect
Now that I have praised Tesla Superchargers, I’m going to knock it down a peg.
While driving through Northern Ontario, I encountered a couple of stations that were reported as down. This made for an interesting stretch as I did not know the condition until it was essentially too late to turn back to the last one. Thankfully, upon arrival, the charger was working.
This was a good reminder to check your charging options before departing each day! Also, checking Plug Share is a good way to know if there are recent issues at any charging location.
We Are in the Golden Age of Hotel Charging
Next up on what I learned from my road trip across Canada in an EV is how I was treated at my accommodations along the way.
Every hotel I chose had charging options and almost all of them were free to use with my stay. On top of that, several hotels, such as Le Germain in Quebec City, waive parking fees for electric vehicles.
Although amazing, it made me realize that we are probably in the “Golden Age of hotel charging.” What I mean is, as demand increases, it’s very likely that hotels will start charging for both parking and electricity use. Add to that the fact that chargers are limited in many hotels so will capacity will need to be increased. Until then, you may not get a spot on your stay.
On my trip, this was never an issue. Again, as demand increases (which it certainly will), this will change. So get out there and enjoy it while it lasts!
Camping in an EV is Glamping
Now, not all my stays on this road trip across Canada were in fancy hotels. With plenty of campsites already set up for RV’s, charging while camping is easy. I camped along the way and slept in my car which made me realize that this is a form of glamping. Sleeping in the car was super comfortable as I was able to run the heat and A/C. With no motor running, this was quiet and environmentally friendly. I look forward to more glamping this summer so stay tuned for that!
Parks Canada Has Tesla Destination Chargers
Another pleasant surprise I discovered on this road trip across Canada is that many National Parks have EV charging options. While visiting the Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site I found a Tesla destination charger along with a J1772 charger in the parking lot. This lead me to find out that Parks Canada has charging options at over 28 locations across Canada!
Stopping to Charge was Not a Hassle
One of the biggest reservations people have about picking up an electric vehicle is the time it takes to charge. Although it does add time to your road trip, I certainly did not mind this. With charging typically spaced out every three hours or so, I found the timing worked well with my body wanting a break. Getting out to stretch, grab something to eat, or check out a nearby site made the whole experience so much more relaxed.
Tesla Autopilot was Made For Road Tripping
Speaking of relaxing, on my road trip across Canada in my Tesla Model Y I found Autopilot incredibly useful. I had it engaged for the bulk of the trip and made the trip incredibly smooth. So much to that I found that I would arrive at my destination relaxed and refreshed. In past long road trips in an ICE, I would often be exhausted at the end of a long drive.
This Country Is Amazing
This is certainly stating the obvious, however I am always amazed at how beautiful and diverse Canada is. This was my first time driving coast-to-coast and provided a whole new perspective and experience. I took the train across Canada a few years ago and that was super unique. A road trip across Canada in an electric vehicle adds another layer. Thanks to the 15-minute stops in small towns along the way, it allowed me to see a little bit more than I would normally. This meant discovering little coffee shops with excellent butter tarts in Ontario and learning all about Al Capone’s connection to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
After some 9,000 km I can safely say that taking a road trip across Canada in an electric vehicle has been one of the best trips I’ve ever done. With over 70 countries visited and many miles driving in them, that is saying a lot.
With battery technology improving and infrastructure growing, a road trip across Canada in an electric vehicle is only going to get better. Still, with plenty of free hotel parking and charging along the way, taking a trip now is that much more affordable.