Range Anxiety, Eagle Lake, Ontario to Nanaimo, BC. Year Two
They were feeling lucky that a small fishing season had been opened up on the Fraser River in Lillooet, BC
Writer's note: I am only giving you one blog for the home trip. If you would like to read about our adventures on the way out, there are four more posts on this blog to enjoy.
I am happy to report that the trip home was much easier than the trip to Eagle Lake. Thanks to a number of good hotels with working level 2 chargers we were mainly able to get off to a great start each day and never had more than one stop to charge in the middle of the day. We successfully used the information we gleaned from Plugshare to plan our stops where high speed chargers were known to be working in the last week and avoid chargers that were down. We had many days when we achieved the maximum possible range for our vehicle (about 485 km).
We are always learning new things that can go wrong as we follow this adventure. The first day we drove all the way to Sault Ste Marie and booked into a high-end hotel with EV charger. (The only hotel in the Sault with a charger.) To our surprise they were storing the charger inside and had to prop the door open to bring it out and hook us up. I told the front desk we’d be charging all night. Imagine our shock when we discovered they had unplugged us when Security went home for the night, and plugged us back in at 6 am. When we got up, we only had 3 hours of charging when our car requires 9 hours to be full. When we tried to talk with management about this, to our surprise, they seemed to have no idea the capacity of their charger to handle cold and snow, and no idea that EV’s need to charge overnight or for 9 hours. They actually didn’t know anything about EV’s.
Lesson Learned: We need a lot more education about the different kinds of EV chargers, what they do, and where each kind should be located.
Our trip over Lake Superior went just as planned with a level 2 charge in Terrace Bay at the Red Dog Inn. We passed the Petrocan at Nipigon (the charger we used on the way out was now down and under repair) and went on to get our level three charge at Thunder Bay. That took us all the way to the Best Western in Dryden. We were descending. Great range. The next day we left Ontario, took a quick charge at the Red River Coop in Winnipeg, and went on to Portage La Prairie, thinking of getting a good level two charge and taking the Yellowhead to Saskatoon. We actually had time for a walk to enjoy the scene at our hotel.
But as we approached Portage, we were already hearing stories of a man who stabbed 12
people to death at James Smith Cree Nation and was on the loose and running. He might be anywhere. To succeed in getting to Saskatoon we were going to have to stop overnight in Yorkton because they only had level two chargers in the city. (We could normally have made Saskatoon easily in one day if there had been one charger within a 380 km range from Portage. No hotels had a level two charger in Yorkton. We were going to charge at the Peavey Mart overnight and walk 3 blocks to a hotel. The more I thought about that knife killer on the loose, the less I wanted to walk 3 blocks at night to my hotel, or leave my car unattended. That night we decide to change plans, go the longer route via Regina, and make the drive in one day.
Saskatoon to Edmonton had no issues for charging – but we got the lowest range we had ever had while making that drive. (325 km) It turned out that on the Prairies, if you are going uphill, continuously, with no downhills to regenerate the battery it takes a lot of energy. Combine that with a strong headwind and you will spend more time at the charger than planned. Hope you don’t need your windshield washers! Or your fan!
The game plan was to go through Jasper to Prince George and down to Kamloops. We
wanted to see a new part of BC. But Jasper had fires burning nearby and the entire electrical infrastructure was down. We heard reports it would take 3 weeks to repair and that Jasper was operating on emergency generators. There would be no way they would be running electric chargers under those circumstances. Sure enough, Plugshare confirmed there would be no charge at Jasper. It was going to be a steep climb and possibly another day of headwind. We had no idea what range we could expect or if we could make it. Another change of plans and off we went to Calgary through Banff and Lake Louise to Golden BC for the night.
Fire by Frances Deverell
Lessons Learned: Be prepared to change your plans on short notice. You never know what kind of obstacles might come up which make your plans impractical. Even though planning is extremely important, you can’t be committed to your plan. You have to be ready to change.
How awesome it was to arrive in BC. We got out at the tourist information centre in Field, breathed the fresh air and took in the beauty of the mountains. The EV charger was right there waiting for us. A big thanks to BC Hydro for making travel for EV’s in BC so much easier to plan for and enjoy.
Coming into Golden and then Revelstoke, we wondered why it was so misty on an obviously clear, sunny day. Then we realized it was smoke.
From Golden we went to Sicamous, toured around looking for a retreat centre,
went on to Kamloops,
and drove into our hotel by 4 pm with someone already charging at one of the hotel’s two chargers. We had had a no charge day and were lucky to arrive in time to have a free charger. A net downhill drive gave us some of the best range we had ever achieved – almost 500 kms.
We heard it was smoky all the way to Vancouver and the Island. Beautiful British Columbia!
Lessons Learned: There are more drivers out there than last year, but we were still mostly able to drive up and charge with no waits. Every charger had a list of people leaving comments on Plugshare about their experience. Every year there will be more and more people driving EV’s. The charging station infrastructure will have to keep growing even though it may not yet be turning a profit.
We visited Lillooet and had a change of plans again. Because of fires and road closures around Hope, we took the Duffey Lake Road through Pemberton and Whistler to North Vancouver and over to Coquitlam. In spite of the steep climbs, the long steep downs were very regenerating. We had another no-charge, high range day. In fact, we made it all the way to Nanaimo on the same charge after driving around Vancouver for 2 days.
Whether it was Toronto, or Ottawa, Calgary, or Vancouver, there is a lack of convenient high-speed chargers for people who are travelling through. If they do have chargers you have to go into the city to find them. The places that should have chargers are the En Routes. The Husky Truck Stops. The places where people gas up just outside the cities that are easily accessible from high-speed highways. Most EV’s can get around any city for several days on one high speed charge if they can find it.
We need many more hotels with level two chargers. Eventually I predict, (optimistically) this will be offered just as wifi is today. But the industry is not awake to this marketing opportunity. Our golden highway home was made smoother and less stressful by the hotels who had the imagination to provide this service.
Don't you just love these overpasses that provide safe crossing for the wildlife in
Banff National Park? Apparently they are well used.
Recommendations for EV Drivers!
1. If you want to get to Eastern Canada from BC by EV, it is doable on both Canada Transcanada #1 and the Yellowhead.
2. There is a lot of misunderstanding about EV’s and EV chargers out there and Service providers don’t always know what level of charge they should be offering. They also don’t always know how essential their service is and are slow to repair broken equipment. Take the time to call the station provider and give them feedback or request repairs. Give them a push. Educate the hotels you stay in. Be an active, participating member of the PlugShare community. Share your stories.
3. EV clubs need to put pressure on the hotels to provide service to EV’s. Ask them to install level two chargers and to provide some security by creating reservation systems for them. They could also put pressure on the classic En Routes and other roadside stops to provide EV charging. Those are the two big gaps in the system.
4. It’s easiest to connect to EV chargers if you set up your account with the various apps for each service provider. This takes some planning and preparation to make sure you are set up for every service provider you will need. And don’t forget to update your credit card if you’ve changed information since last year.
5. EV charging is rarely free now, but it is still very affordable. Our total costs this year were $228 going out and $109 coming home for a total of $336 for
10,000 kms. The lower figure coming back reflects a number of factors:
· More downhill than uphill.
· More hotels with level 2 chargers
· Better planning and fewer stops to charge.
I was hoping that this year’s trip would be so boring it wouldn’t be worth reporting.Maybe next year.