Plan a clean, quiet adventure through the stunning Kootenays
October 2, 2018
For fall road trips, few places can rival the beauty of BC’s Kootenay region.
And now, visitors and locals alike can explore more than 1,800 kilometres of the region’s highways in an electric vehicle (EV)—from Sparwood to Greenwood, Revelstoke to Field and all the communities in between.
There are now 11 strategically placed Direct Current Fast Chargers (DCFCs) and two more nearing completion. There’s also 40 Level 2 charging stations either already installed or underway along Highways 1, 3, and 95 with more coming soon.
The stations are a result of Accelerate Kootenays, a unique rural partnership with the objective of linking Kootenay communities through clean travel and a successful collaboration between all levels of government and industry contributors like FortisBC.
Electric vehicle enthusiasts were also important contributors to this effort and continue to be ambassadors for the Kootenay EV network.
We had a chance to catch up to two of these ambassadors and learn more about their passion for their electric vehicles, what this new infrastructure means for clean travel in their community and their recommendations for new EV drivers.
A passionate Tesla driver
For David Cornelius, a retired software engineer, making Rossland, BC his retirement home added a level of challenge in his pursuit of one of his many passions — his 2015 Tesla Model S.
David wanted to see what the future could be like.
He got involved with EV driving three years ago for a firsthand look at what the future could be like, and since that time, has enjoyed the challenges and rewards of early adoption.
“I spend a lot of time planning longer trips. I use a combination of web sites and a pile of notes I've taken along previous trips, and sometimes resort to calculator & spreadsheet,” said David.
But the reward?
“Long trips with easy supercharging.Going to obscure places which are 'a bit off the grid',” explain David. “Do the math on daily use. If that fits for you, go for it!The long distance travel can work if you treat each charging stop as an opportunity to explore the local offerings.”
For David, having the DCFCs deployed makes the challenge far easier to surmount.
“Instead of thinking: Oh, I must charge at a particular spot, the thoughts are now:I have choices about where I'll charge!”
He’d like to see even more stalls added to the chargers as acceptance of EVs rise, and businesses installing stations in their parking lots.
His main advice for people considering EV driving “Plug it in when you get home, and it's always ready for your next usage.”
A family adventurer and electric vehicle blogger
Andrew Chewter is another passionate EV driver who runs his own blog post dedicated to his experience. His ride for the last four years is his 2014 Nissan Leaf SL.
Andrew, a Nissan Leaf driver who wants to make sure he leaves the world in good shape for his family.
For Andrew, nothing beats the experience of rolling down the window on a warm summer day, driving a beautiful leisurely side road, listening to the birds chirp, hearing the streams and smelling the fresh air.
“I’ve been surprised at how much I appreciate the lack of vibration, the smooth acceleration and the overall quietness of the vehicle,” said Andrew. “Not quite as good as riding my bike, but a darn close second!”
As a dad, he also appreciates having growing network fast-charging network which has allowed their family to get to more activities in their electric vehicle.
“It allows even our short-range EV to stretch our legs on weekend trips. We can easily go to Castlegar and surrounding area to do some biking, or visit Syringa Park, or head up to Red Mountain or the Paulson Summit to go skiing in the winter,” said Andrew. “We recently signed up to learn how to BMX at the race track in Salmo - now we can drive the EV there with the bikes on the back, then top up for about five minutes in Salmo to recharge before heading home — just enough time to pop over to the Dragonfly Cafe once in a while for an ice cream on those hot afternoons!”
Like David, Andrew would like to see multiple fast chargers installed at each location.
“Give an EV a go, you might be surprised how much you like it! Most people could replace their “second” car right now with an EV. Used ones are pretty affordable and can handle all of your city driving. If you have a commute, get one that has a rated range of about 50 per cent more than your round trip to work, and you’ll be covered for all conditions for several years or longer on just charging at home.”
Plan your own get away
Plans for more EV stations are underway across the province, making the dream of easy coast-to-border travel in an EV closer to reality.
In the meantime, your perfect fall road trip could still use a little advance planning. Here’s some of the sites that David and Andrew recommend: evtripplanner.com, ABetterRoutePlanner.com and PlugShare.com.