Once considered primarily as a low-carbon option to the daily commute, electric vehicles (EVs) are breaking out of city limits as a fast, fun, and convenient road tripper.
New models and charging stations make it possible
EV ranges are increasing all the time. By 2022, the average range of new EVs is expected to be 440 km, enough to make the lengthy drive from Kamloops to Victoria without recharging your car’s battery pack.
Just as important to the road tripper is the availability of fast charging stations – where you can plug in and charge your car to 80% capacity in 30 to 40 minutes – along the highways of B.C. There are now more than 250 fast charging stations across the province including 60 (and counting) operated by BC Hydro. That's in addition to the more than 1,000 Level 2 public charging stations, which generally offer free charging.
The variety of affordable electric vehicles is also expanding to accommodate the needs of families and others who want space for five or more passengers and/or generous cargo space.
Planning your EV road trip
The public charging network in B.C. and beyond is expanding fast, but any experienced EV driver will tell you that it takes some planning, and a few key considerations, to make for carefree road trips.
Recommended EV road trips within and from B.C.
1. Vancouver to Tofino
Distance one way: 238 km (or 317 km from Victoria)
Vehicle: 2019 Chevy Bolt (383 km range)
Charging stops: 1
How it's done: The Bolt gets you to the wild west coast of Vancouver Island without stopping, and allows you to recharge for the return leg at the Pacific Rim Visitor Centre. You won't have to stop on the way, but you should… for a bite at Qualicum Beach, a walk among the giant Douglas Firs at Cathedral Grove, to shop at the Old Country Market (with goats on the roof) at Coombs, or to fill a growler at Twin City Brewing in Powell River.
- Giant Douglas Firs at Cathedral Grove
- Shopping (and goats on the roof) at Coombs
- Storm watching, surfing or beach walking at Tofino
- Splurge at the Wickaninnish Inn or Middle Beach Lodge
- Camp on the beach at Bella Pacifica
- Take a boat (or float plane) for a hike and soak at Hot Springs Cove
2. Victoria to Cascade Loop, Washington
Distance: 908 km (including ferry travel)
Vehicle: 2019 Model 3 (base model 386 km range)
Charging stops: 2-3
How it's done: Take one ferry one way, and a series of different ferries on the return, to get the most of this adventure on one of the most spectacular drives in North America. Start with a full charge, and with a Tesla charger stop at Winthrop and a Supercharger stop at Leavenworth (plus a top-up at Monroe or Sequim) ensure you can make the trip carefree, whether you have the base or longer-range Model 3.
- Hiking the Maple Pass Loop in the North Cascades
- Alps-like scenery on a world-class drive
- Old West town of Winthrop
- Rocky Reach Dam Visitor Centre
- Wine tasting at Chelan
- Oktoberfest at Leavenworth
- Fall colours through Tumwater Canyon in Stevens Pass
- Charming Port Townsend and Fort Worden State Park
- Hike and a soak at Sol Duc Hot Springs near Port Angeles
3. Vancouver to Kamloops: Golf Trip
Distance one way: 361 km to Kamloops 364 km for return
Vehicle: 2019 Nissan Leaf (243 km or 349 km)
Charging stops: 1
How it's done: Depending on which battery pack you opt for, the Leaf will take you either 243 km or 364 km between charges. For this golf adventure to Kamloops, we've planned a single stop each way at the fast charger in Hope, in part because you can recharge with coffee and a quick bite at the nearby Blue Moose. While this trip is mostly about the fantastic golf Kamloops has to offer, we've built in a few options, including a round of golf at Sandpiper Golf Resort at Harrison Mills on the way up, fishing at Lac Le Jeune Resort, and a scenic drive on the old highway between Kamloops and Merritt.
- Golf, and eagle watching, at Sandpiper
- Soup and a fast charge in Hope
- Mountain splendour en route to the Coquihalla summit
- Trout fishing at Lac Le Jeune
- Kamloops golf at Tobiano, Eagle Point, The Dunes, Rivershore and Kamloops Golf & Country Club
- Optional day trip to Talking Rock Golf Club on the Shuswap
- Lakes, hills and the Quilchena Hotel on the old Kamloops-to-Merritt Highway
4. Vernon to Banff & Radium
Distance: 692 including Radium loop back to Golden
Vehicle: 2019 Hyundai Kona (415 km range)
Charging stops: 1
How it's done: The Kona's excellent range gets you all the way to a BC Hydro fast charger at Golden. En route to Banff, you can top up at a fast charger at Yoho, or at a Level 2 once you're in Banff. Consider a night in Salmon Arm, Revelstoke or Golden before heading to the Rockies, Banff and Radium Hot Springs. This trip is all about mountain scenery and recreation, and if you're a fit hiker, don't miss out on the Floe Lake trail en route to Radium. If you're camping, book your spots early. And if you're an avid skier/snowboarder, your journey ends at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, which boasts great snow and the longest groomed run (15.2 km) on the continent.
- Camping at Salmon Arm or Revelstoke
- Salmon Arm Roots & Blues Festival
- Hiking, mountain biking or skiing in Revelstoke
- Skiing, or Pipe Mountain Coaster in the summer, Revelstoke
- River rafting on the Kicking Horse River, Golden
- Banff Mountain Film Festival
- Hiking (or the gondola) in Banff
- Hiking Floe Lake Trail
- Soak at Banff or Radium Hot Springs
Dave drove an EV from one edge of B.C. to the other
In 2019, cameras followed BC Hydro's Dave Mix on his 'Clean Getaway' road trip from Tofino on Vancouver Island to Yoho National Park in the Rocky Mountains, a trip that cost him about $30 at a combination of Level 2 and fast charge stations across B.C.
"I had my doubts when I started out, but I proved to myself that it is possible to take an electric vehicle across the province," said Mix at the close of the trip in a Chevy Bolt. "I charged at hotels and public fast chargers, and I met EV owners across the province. I planned my trip, and hit all the places I needed and wanted to go, all while enjoying everything beautiful B.C. has to offer."