EV BLOG 2: The First Year's Exploring - Vancouver Island (Range Anxiety)
Updated: Jul 17, 2021
Blog 2 -- Early Exploration 2021 07 02
(To see our whole blog, please visit francesdeverell.com and choose Blog.)
We had just begun to explore what our new EV could do when the pandemic arrived and we were all ordered to stay at home. When restrictions after the first wave were lifted and we were all told to go out and enjoy the summer, we finally had a chance to do a little exploring. We were delighted with the performance as we discovered we had enough range to drive from Nanaimo to Victoria and back on one charge with some left over. To our satisfaction, we maintained the average projected usage (1 km of usage per 1 km of battery charge) even going over the Malahat. Of course we lost a lot of range going up the Malahat but then regenerated it all back on the way down. Our new toy was going to do well in the mountains.
We also found we could go up island to Comox-Courtney and back on one charge and we knew that we could get up to Ucluelet and Tofino and have some left to drive around the area--but what kind of a charge would get us home? There was a public level two charger at the community centre in Ucluelet, but we couldn’t activate it and couldn’t find anyone to help us. We spent part of our holiday looking for options. Fortunately, BC Hydro came to the rescue with a high-speed charger at Ucluelet. We were able to activate the charger with phone support. Island travel is proving to be quite enjoyable without too much worry.
We also took a test run to visit family in Kamloops. We thought that we had enough range. (Our range states 385 average. We had been getting well over 400 and even 500 driving around Nanaimo. So we thought maybe we could make 336.5 km from Coquitlam to Kamloops in one charge.) But the Coquihalla turned out to be a really strong energy drain and we were uncertain if we would make it. We decided to stop in Merritt and plug into a community-based, free, level two charger and top up for an hour or so. The charger was in a pleasant park and we were able to find a coffee while we waited. Thank goodness the hotel we booked into in Kamloops had a level two charger. We were able to get a full charge to get home.
Later friends told us that BC Hydro had another high-speed charger at the top of the Coquihalla, at the Hydro One Britton Creek rest area, for just such emergencies. We had zipped right by it without knowing. EV charging stations are invisible to anyone who isn’t looking for them. Unlike gasoline stations that are well marked with huge signs and big Canadian flags, etc. EV charging is like a dirty little secret someone is keeping from the eyes of the world. The public highway signs that direct you to off-road services say nothing about EV charging.
Then we discovered the Plugshare App. All EV charging service providers have their own app. PetroCanada will tell you where all the Petrocan stations are. BC Hydro will tell you where all the BC Hydro stations are. Chargepoint or Greenlots will tell you where their stations are. But Plugshare has no stations of their own and it tells you where all the stations are. Not only that, but it tells you what kind of a charger it is, how fast it is, and whether or not anyone is actually using it at any particular point in time. It also has comments from users as to what their actual experience was. With this tool, we could finally figure out how to plan our trip.