The great Canadian road-trip: charged across the country
Follow Jon Seary on his coast-to-coast journey in a Ford F-150 Lightning.
On a steed of lightning, one man—Jon Seary, President of the EV Society—wanted to discover if there were enough EV chargers to make it across Canada. His journey started in Victoria, British Columbia, and ended at his hometown in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
The big question is why? Why did he desire to undertake this quest with a Ford F-150 Lightning? Along with raising awareness for the potential of electric trucks, Seary wanted to understand the state of charging infrastructure in Canada. Different provinces have varying levels of support—for example, BC is ahead of the curve as there is high demand for EV charging. But would he be able to make the trek even in oil-industry provinces like Alberta?
Gas vs Electric
It’s difficult to tell if the F-150 Lightning is an electric vehicle—even the charge port looks like a gas cap—but the biggest giveaway is when it moves. On the road it is absolutely silent, which Seary says is a bonus for him on this long trek.
When it comes to speed, the F-150 Lightning takes approximately four seconds to go from 0–60 miles whereas the gas model takes longer. As for cost, the road trip is considerably cheaper by 80% due to the lack of gas expenses.
What was it like on the road trip?
A typical day on the road involved finding a hotel with available charging. Seary checked the opening hours and fees to ensure he always had power in his vehicle. For the most part, he was able to find a hotel with chargers on the premises.
His mother, a photojournalist, joined him on the journey to archive the experience on the road. She took thousands of pictures, documented everyone they met, and answered any questions about EVs. Jon even recalls there was a time when she completely took over responding to questions.
“I was on a phone call and this well-dressed fellow came over and asked about the truck. My mother was there and she answered everything. After I finished my phone call she said ‘You can take over.’ But he said ‘No, you’ve answered all of my questions. Thank you very much.’”
The two would drive for a couple of hours and take a twenty-minute coffee break while charging the truck. When going out for lunch, they would also top up the power and eat while the vehicle was charging.
“We would aim between 400 and 700 kilometers per day. We never went over a thousand, for our own sanity.”
What’s the best way to drive across Canada in an EV?
Before even getting on the road, you need to have a strategy. Electric vehicles are still a relatively new technology, therefore there can be some challenges when undertaking a trip in one. It’s important to understand your vehicle’s range and how long you can go without stopping to charge.
In Canada, there are not as many public chargers available as petrol or diesel stations. This means you have to plan your route in advance. Depending on the province, chargers can be in a cluster or spread out.
People often believe that electric vehicles take longer to charge than getting gas. However, Seary says the chargers were fast—he could grab a coffee and the car would be ready to go.
Some stations were self-serve, while others like at the Super 8 in Winnipeg had tremendous service. Seary says the staff came out, unlocked the charger cable, plugged it into the truck, and asked him if the car was charging. However, many spots didn’t have as convenient or fast charging—so Seary was prepared to spend extra time at each rest stop.
What needs to change about Canada’s EV charging infrastructure?
Seary encourages the government to support policies that elevate EV chargers into thriving businesses. The goal is to increase the reliability and viability for hotels to install the technology. Once chargers flourish in the hospitality industry, it will encourage EV adoption across the country.
Seary also believes Canada desperately needs affordable family sedan EVs rather than higher-end luxury vehicles. These models are available in other parts of the world such as China and Europe. If local automakers are slowing down the opportunity for Canadians to have these vehicles it may be time to receive imports from elsewhere.
Was it a good experience or a nightmare?
Seary says he had a great time traveling in the F-150 Lightning. “Yes, I would do the trip again. I run my own company and I have a family so I can’t be away from them for a long time. But I needed a few extra weeks on this trip because there were so many sights that we didn’t see.”
While using a gas vehicle for a road trip may be easier, the EV has plenty of benefits— it’s cheaper, quieter, and faster. Rest assured, a road trip across Canada in an EV is not only possible but also an incredible experience overall.
Ready to dive into the world of EVs? Tune in to our podcast featuring Mark Marmer and Jon Seary as they discuss EV infrastructure and the latest breakthroughs in Canada. Get unique insights directly from industry experts.