â€œWe wouldnâ€™t ever use the electric Bolt for long road trips,â€ my wife and I told ourselves. â€œAfter all, EVs arenâ€™t really designed for that. Not with minimal fast-charging infrastructure. And certainly not if you have to keep to a strict schedule.â€Â
We were in complete agreement. Weâ€™d rent an ICE (thatâ€™s EV-owner lingo for an internal combustion engine) for any trip longer than the 360km range of the Bolt we planned to buy â€” make that 200km in the depths of winter. Why get all stressed about running out of power and not finding a charger when renting is easy enough?
Then came last summerâ€™s holiday. We decided to take a family camping, cycling and whale-watching trip around Lac Saint-Jean, down the Saguenay to Tadoussac and then home to Ottawa through the Charlevoix. Three people, with full camping gear and bicycles.
â€œNot with the brand new Bolt, of course! But then again, Quebec has invested a lot in public chargersâ€¦â€
And so it started. A 2000km round-trip over 14 days in an EV. Not even a Tesla. A mere Chevrolet! The only range anxiety we had was before we left Ottawa, it turned out. From then on, with good planning and a bit of extra patience on several occasions, we had an enjoyable â€œbike and Boltâ€ trip through Quebec.
A trip through Quebec was reasonable. But youâ€™d never try and drive out to BC and back in an EV.
Never say never! On June 3, I am leaving Ottawa headed west, with the Bolt full of books and camping gear, and a bike on the back. Destination Victoria, BC. Crazy, right! Maybe. Time will tell. But time is the key. I plan to take my time. With the dream of holding book launch/signing events and talks all along the route, most days will be limited to one charge. In moderate June weather, that could mean as much as 400km. With a light foot on the accelerator (highly advisable in any vehicle to maximize efficiency by reducing drag) I might even take it further.
On some days, I may need to travel as much as 700km. Hello Northern Ontario and the Prairies! In theory, that means an early start, a long break mid-day â€” for a meal, a bike ride and some blogging and event planning calls for the next stage of the trip, all while the car charges at a modest Level 2 charger (or a 240V hook-up at a campground) â€” and then another shorter leg until early evening. Plug in again at a Level 2 charger and youâ€™re fully charged by morning.
It should be manageable. Should. Thatâ€™s the key word. There should be Level 3 fast chargers at key points along the route. Some new ones now under under construction should be open by then; at least for the July return trip. I should be fine. Should. But stuff happens. It always does. Which is what will make the trip â€” and this blog! â€” interesting.
So stay tuned. I plan to write an honest travel-blog about the joys and possible woes of long-distance travel by EV. I will sprinkle in some important truths about the environmental benefits and down-sides of current EV battery technology, and of the sources of energy. After all, when travelling in Ontario Iâ€™ll know that half my electricity is coming from nuclear power. I am not a fan of nuclear, but living in Ontario it is a fact, at least until the renewable energy transition happens for real. No breath is being held on that with Ontario’s new government. When travelling in Saskatchewan and Alberta, Iâ€™ll know I am driving a coal-powered car. Predominantly coal, that is, though there has been modest movement towards renewables, notably in Alberta. How many more weeks will that last in Alberta, we have to wonder?
Yes, the blog could get political. It will be honest, though. And never partisan. This is no partisan trip. And the book it has been designed to promote is similarly non-partisan. Predatory delay on the pressing issues of climate breakdown and ecological destruction is not limited to one party or persuasion. Solutions to these and other pressing social challenges need not be dependent on oneâ€™s political leanings. Thatâ€™s what the burning souls in my book show.
So, onward with the Electrified Burning Souls Road Trip. First stop Almonte. Then Sudbury and westward ho! New dates are being added daily.