Sun Country Highway has electrified the Trans Canada Highway in just eight months.
The company's Vice President, Christopher Misch, was in Sault Ste. Marie this morning to unveil the city's free electric vehicle charging site located at the Delta Sault Ste. Marie Waterfront Hotel and Convention Centre.
He said the folks at the Delta were eager to become the Sault's spark along the highway, as were the other restaurants, hotels and tourist destinations the company partnered with to create the longest, greenest highway in the world.
He and a team from Sun Country Highway are taking a state-of-the-art Sun Country Highway limited edition Tesla Roadster across the country on the Trans Canada Highway to test out the charging sites.
For its 50th birthday, Sun Country Highway gave the Trans Canada Highway 85 of the world's fastest-charging 240-volt Level 2 units enabling electric vehicle drivers to traverse the entire highway - all 10,000 or so kilometres of it - free of range anxiety.
By removing 'range anxiety', as many refer to the nagging worry that the car won't make it to the next charging site, Sun Country Highway effectively removes one of the obstacles to growth in the electric car industry and to achieving zero-emissions on Canadian roads.
The Sun Country Highway team started out in St. John's, Newfoundland, on November 17.
They were going to dip the Tesla's tires in the Atlantic ocean but thought better of it when they envisioned the sleek, sexy one-of-only 50, Tesla Roadster slipping off the pier and sinking into the ocean.
Instead, they decided to fill a flask with water from the ocean to bring across the country and pour into the Pacific ocean on December 20 in Victoria, British Columbia.
"We have a huge gala planned for that night in Victoria," says Misch. "It's supposed to be the end of the world so our president and founder, Ken Rathwell says we're celebrating the end of one world and bringing in a new world."
Sun Country Highway envisions that world to be filled with silent, emission-free, unimaginably low-maintenance vehicles that never ever need a drop of gasoline.
The team behind Sun Country Highway came together to put their money where their mouths are, says Misch.
"We want to build the infrastructure so people will buy and use more electric vehicles," he said.
The company is providing free-to-use electric charging sites that are no more than 200 kilometres apart along the Trans Canada Highway to promote the use of zero-emission transportation to Canadians because it believes Canada can and will be a world leader in this innovation.
"People are embracing it," Misch says. "Canadians are ready for this."
Sun Country Highway is revealing locations of it's network of free electric vehicle charging sites as the Tesla Roadster and the team on the highway test and visit each one of them but electric vehicle owners across the country have spotted them already.
Electric vehicle owner community forums and social media sites are all buzzing with the news as each new site is discovered.
Misch provided a glowing recommendation for the locations of the charging sites in Blind River and Sault Ste. Marie.
"When we stopped to charge the Tesla at the one in Blind River, at Pier Seventeen, we also had a dinner and they showed us around the community," he said. "We got a great meal and got to know some very friendly, enthusiastic people. If it weren't for the charging site we probably wouldn't have stopped there and discovered the place."
"In the Sault, we stayed at this lovely hotel with a great view of the waterfront and the river," Misch said. "We took a look around and enjoyed the beautiful surroundings and friendly people."
Sun Country Highway decided to work with partners in the tourism industry to boost ecotourism across Canada and make sure as many people as possible benefit economically from the electric vehicle industry.
The partners they approached saw the potential benefit of having electric vehicle owners stop at their establishments for the time it takes to charge their vehicles and are paying for the electricity they use so the service can be free.
"Even if the drivers only have a couple cups of coffee it pays for the electricity they use to recharge the batteries in their cars," said Misch.
The recharge time varies widely between electric vehicle models and depends on the type of battery in the car, the weight of the vehicle, and the efficiency of the drive train.
It can take as much as five or six hours to recharge a battery that is completely empty, but most of the time, people using the sites won't be charging from empty, he added.
Also, battery technology is advancing quickly and as it does the range of a charge increases and the time it takes to recharge decreases.
The Tesla Roadster has a range of almost 400 km but it's a 'super' electric vehicle, said Misch.
Some of the new Sun Country Highway charging sites are only a few kilometres apart and others more but it's never more than 200 kilometres between them, he said.
That's about the range of most of the electric vehicles currently on the road.
To learn more about Sun Country Highway, please click here