Back in August of 2015, my wife and I had a trip to Woodstock, Vermont planned. The problem was, we didn’t know how we were going to get there.
You see, in June of 2015, we purchased a pre-owned Tesla Model S. Having gotten our feet wet with a Nissan Leaf, we felt that electric was the way to go for our next vehicle. We wanted an EV with the longest range. We didn’t know exactly how far the Model S would take us on a charge, and our lack of experience with the vehicle was somewhat unsettling.
To be honest, the particular Model S we purchased had been in an accident, and needed repair. Tesla was looking after all of the details pertaining to bringing it back to specification, and we had to wait about six weeks for the work to be completed. We took delivery of the Model S on August 11, and were scheduled to leave for Woodstock from just north of Toronto on August 21. We had exactly 10 days to figure out this new vehicle.
Working Out the Details
We’d take the Tesla out for drives just to run the battery down. It’s a 60 kWh battery model, about two and a half times the size of the battery of our Leaf. Not the longest range Tesla, but it seemed like a ton of battery compared to that vintage of Leaf.
To ensure we didn’t run out of electrons, I used a great web site called EV Trip Planner. It gave me a good idea of how far we could go with our Model S before needing to charge. It took into account number of passengers, ambient temperature and average speed. For a wonk like me, I was in my element. For most people, not so much.
I think people hear about this level of planning and just say “fugetaboutit”. And who can blame them? Who wants the aggravation when they can just go to the corner gas station and fill ‘er up?
On the Road, Part One
We embarked on our EV road trip. Tesla has its own network of charging stations called Superchargers. The advantage of the Supercharger stations is the number of stalls. It commonly ranges from six to twenty and some stations have more than 40. You rarely have to wait to charge. At the time, there were Superchargers in Buffalo, Syracuse and Utica, all in New York state. We used all three, and then made the hike to Woodstock. We arrived with about 15% of the battery left. I had called the Woodstock Inn in advance, and they let us plug our car into their back barn, where it took 36 hours to charge from a regular 110V plug. We didn’t care how long it took. We were there for four days and weren’t planning to drive much once we arrived.
We had a terrific stay and the four days went all too fast. Fully charged at departure, we drove up to Ben and Jerry’s near Waterbury, Vermont for some ice cream. They have a Level Three Quick Charger there and we plugged in to top up the car. We then drove to Burlington, Vermont where Freedom Nissan (yes, a bit ironic) has a Level Three Quick Charger costing something like $2.00/hour to use. This gave us enough power to drive north to Cornwall, Ontario where Telsa has a Supercharger.
We stayed overnight in Cornwall, drove to Kingston, and Supercharged again. The tricky part now, was at that time, there were no Superchargers between Kingston and Toronto. We’d need to charge as we couldn’t make the distance on a single charge. Fortunately, the Shannonville race track about 40 minutes east of Kingston had a 70 amp Sun Country charger, free to use. (N.B. Shannonville no longer has a charging station, according to PlugShare). We parked for about an hour to charge, and set out again. Next stop, The Big Apple in Colbourne, Ontario, where a Tesla Destination Charger awaited. We snuck in just before another Tesla and charged for about an hour. That gave us enough power to get back home.
If you’ve hung in this far, you’re probably thinking, “Wow, that totally sucks. It took forever to travel from Cornwall to Toronto”. On an average day, you could do that in about four and a half hours in a gas powered car. It took us almost seven. Plus we’d only had the car for a short time, so it was living a bit on the edge.
On the Road, Part Two
Fast forward two years, to August 2017. Another trip to the Woodstock Inn.
Our route there, just the same as 2015: Toronto to Buffalo to Syracuse to Utica. On to the Woodstock Inn. In the interim, they had installed two Tesla Destination Chargers. We just plugged in. There was no need to park by the barn.
Returning to Toronto, we chose a slightly different route: Woodstock to the new Burlington, Vermont Supercharger. We then drove north to Montreal and stayed at the Marriot, where cars are parked at a lot with a Tesla Destination Charger. We then drove to the Cornwall Supercharger, then the Kingston Supercharger and on to the new Port Hope Supercharger, and to home. No third party chargers needed, no ‘unnecessary’ stops.
What a difference two years can make.
That was then. This is now.
Today, we often pass Superchargers without needing to stop to charge. We’ve made three trips to New York City. We can now travel right across Canada, using the Supercharger network. Third party chargers seem to be everywhere, and it’s so easy to plug in while you shop or stay overnight even if you don’t have a Tesla. The number of Quick Chargers keeps growing too. If you think you’re ready for an EV, then the charging network is likely ready for you, too. Think about making your next trip an EV road trip.
Range anxiety? What’s that? “Fugetaboutit”.