I love a good road trip. I’ve done a few memorable ones so far in my life, including a Waterloo, ON to North Battleford, SK trip that taught me the absolute truth of the lyrics in Wendell Ferguson’s song “Rocks and Trees” about the landscape of Northern Ontario:
Rocks & trees, trees & rocks
Reams and reams of endless trees and tons of rocks
The whole north is just proliferous
With metamorphic and coniferous
Rocks & trees, trees & rocks
The most exciting vehicle I drove in one of my road trip excursions was a 1976 Dodge Dart sedan. It was the mid-1990s at the time – as you might imagine, there were several stops for repairs along the way.
Ever since Petro-Canada completed their EV fast charge network along the TransCanada, I’ve been thinking I’d like to try another big trip – but this time in an EV. While I still haven’t been able to get out, I recently spoke to someone who had. Earlier this year, Marianne Kunic, with her brother, Agan, and her dog, Gigi, in tow - drove from Sechelt, BC to St. Stephen, NB in her Kia Soul EV, affectionately named “Cricket” because of its bright green colour.
PumpTalk: Thanks for chatting about your recent cross-country trip with me! How did it go?
Marianne: We had a great time. It was lovely getting to spend quality one-on-one time with my brother, Agan. Plus he helped me manage any anxiety I had about the trip, such as planning a good route or finding a charger.
PT: Is Cricket your first EV?
Marianne: It’s my second. I’ve owned an EV for seven years now – both of them have been Kia Souls. Travelling in an EV really sparked a lot of good conversations. Everywhere we stopped, people were interested in electric vehicles – wanting to know more about them. Even in places where they don’t have a lot of charging stations, people were curious. There is definitely some anxiety about getting an EV – specifically about running out of charge. But the cars are so smart – they warn you ahead of time. It was like being an ambassador for EVs.
PT: How was your experience at Petro-Canada’s EV fast chargers?
Marianne: We really like the Petro-Canada machines. They are well-lit, state of the art, easy to use. We used a lot of different chargers on the trip; we charged the battery two or three times a day, depending on the distance we travelled. The Petro-Canada ones were definitely our favourite, but there were some kinks that still need to be worked out.
We ran into some Wi-Fi problems at one station in Saskatchewan. The Wi-Fi by the charger was quite poor. So I was in the restaurant, talking to customer support and would then have to relay those instructions out the door to my brother who was at the charger – it made it a bit difficult.
And there was another location where the charger was out of service and the site staff was unable to fix it. So we ended up using an external outlet at a local motel. Took us three hours just to get enough of a charge to limp to the next fast charger.
Editor’s note: we thank Marianne for sharing this information with us! We’ve gotten in touch with the locations she mentioned and are working on solving these issues.
PT: A lot of people, like myself, are considering going cross-country in an EV. What tips or advice can you share?
Marianne: Having an app that helps you locate the chargers is essential. We used the Petro-Canada EV app as well as ChargeHub and FLO (mainly in NB).
Make sure you update your car’s GPS maps before you leave. If you’re in an area without a connection, you’ll still want to have the latest maps.
Plot your route ahead of time and make sure you factor in enough time for charging. In general, charging time took longer than we anticipated. Build in an hour for each time you need to charge.
Drive at or below the speed limit. You use more charge if you go above the speed limit. Staying under made us a bit slower, but it stretched out the distance we were able to go. Using cruise control really helped with this.
PT: Would you do it again?
Marianne: Yes, in a heartbeat!
Marianne, thank you so much for sharing your experience driving across Canada in an EV with us! It always helps to hear from trailblazers and get the best tips and advice. What do you think, readers? Are you ready to drive across Canada in an EV?