September 11 2017, 16:19 PM
As a certified gearhead, I love a good road trip. This summer, I wanted to find out if it was possible to travel from Montreal, Q.C. to Halifax, N.S. without burning a drop of gasoline. In New Brunswick, thanks to NB Power’s eCharge Network, I was easily able to travel across the province solely on electric power.
One of the traditional arguments against all-electric cars has been their range, or lack thereof. Fears of “ohmygawdwillimakeit” used to be a common deterrent for people considering an EV, brought upon by a combination of small on-board batteries that didn’t hold much juice and an anemic network of charging stations.
NB Power’s eCharge Network, a series of public electric car charging stations strategically placed at popular locations throughout the province handily solves the charging station issue. My car for the journey, a Chevrolet Bolt capable of at least 383km on a single charge, erased any hint of range anxiety. Together, they made the perfect pair.
My first stop to fill up on electrons was at the popular Shell station on Grey Rock Road, right off the highway just outside of Edmundston. The eCharge Network charging station, in a spacious corner of the parking lot, was brightly coloured and easy to find. Two charging options are always available at the eCharge Network’s fast-charging sites: a “Level-2” charger, which will fully charge the typical EV in about 7 hours and is perfect for a top-up on shorter trips, and a DC “fast charger”. Knowing my route took me across the province, I selected the “fast charger”, which fills an EV’s battery to 80% in about half an hour.
Activating the station was easy. Prior to hitting the road, I had downloaded the eCharge Network app onto my smartphone and quickly set up an account. With the Grey Rock charging station selected in the app and the station’s charger plugged into the Bolt, I pressed the “Start a Session” button displayed in the app. Within seconds, the charging station displayed a “Ready” message. Pushing the machine’s big, green Start button produced a satisfying thunk and the Bolt’s message centre confirmed it was now hoovering electricity from the NB Power electrical grid. The process was no more complicated than getting gas and paying at the pump in a conventional car.
NB Power has done a great job selecting locations for the eCharge Network, as I had ample selection of places to grab a snack and use wi-fi to catch up on emails. As I waited, another EV driver pulled up to the charging station and used the Level-2 charger. That EV driver used their eCharge Network card to activate the station rather than the app. Chatting with him, he remarked to me how pleased he was with NB Power’s charging station installations. His opinion carried weight – turns out he has travelled over 100,000km in three years with his EV!
My other two charging stops, at the Irving Big Stops near Fredericton and Salisbury, were equally pleasant and carefree. In a tremendous spurt of happenstance, the charging station in Salisbury is directly adjacent to an ice cream parlour. Tasty treats and zero emissions? That’s a win-win if I ever heard one.
The well thought out eCharge Network made it easy to drive across New Brunswick in the all-electric Chevy Bolt. By taking the lead on clean motoring, NB Power sets the table for New Brunswick residents who are considering buying an EV or plug-in hybrid while, at the same time, making the province more a lot more accessible for current owners of those types of cars.
Be sure to check out all the details of the eCharge Network, along with a map of charging stations.
Living in rural Nova Scotia, Matthew Guy has immersed himself in car culture for over 30 years and relishes the thought of a good road trip. A certified gearhead, he enjoys professionally writing about cars.
His work has appeared on wheels.ca, HybridCars.com, and in CAA Magazine. Find him on Facebook and Instagram as Dude Drives Cars and on Twitter @DudeDrivesCars