Newbie EV Roadtrippers: Read This First!

By Felicity Borgal (She/Her),
Sustainable Transportation Program Lead at EnviroCentre.

Top four things to know if you’re planning a long road trip in an EV for the first time.

I took a road trip from Ottawa to London, Ontario to pick up an exciting new e-bike. I thought it would be a great opportunity to test out an electric vehicle (EV), share the experience and a few tips for those of you who are interested and/or planning to take a long-distance road trip in an EV – and be sure to check out Felicity’s EV Road Trip parts 1 & 2!

Felicity’s EV Road Trip Part One!

Felicity’s EV Road Trip Part Two!

1. Range isn’t always as much as you expect it to be, so plan your route conservatively!

EVs work efficiently in a city environment because of the benefits of regenerative braking. With no regenerative braking on the highway, and driving at a speed that requires more power, my range dropped dramatically (350 km vs 450 km). That combined with the time it takes to charge to full meant I effectively could travel approximately 250 kilometres at a time. 

The super-fast chargers (Ivy’s Charge & Go level 3 fast-chargers) are super-fast if you’re charging between 20% and about 70%, so we decided it would be more efficient to stop more frequently rather than taking the time to charge to 100%. This allowed us to stretch our legs and enjoy a snack. 

It is highly recommended not to let your battery charge drop below 70 km, especially in winter. Small things like turning up the heat or turning on the windshield wipers can drain the battery rapidly and leave you stranded on the side of the road.

2. Chargers can sometimes be out of service.

Five out of six locations we stopped at had at least one charger out of commission, with no visible indication that it was out of order – it just didn’t connect. However, when I checked the PlugShare app, non-functional/functional charging stations were already noted and I was able to find and connect to another one, as there are usually several available.

3. Download the apps in advance!

Planning is key to any successful road trip. Downloading an app like PlugShare allows you to plan which charging stations you’re going to stop at along the way based on your battery range (see tip #1). This is not only an advantage to planning all aspects of your road trip, as noted in tip #2, you can also quickly check the app to ensure the charging station you’ve pulled up to is functional. This will save you time and frustration. 

The Ivy Charge & Go stations which are found at almost all ONRoutes, don’t accept credit cards, so you need to download the Ivy app and pre-pay in order to charge. This is an important note for those who have limited data on their phones! 

4. Chargers can be tricky to handle.

The Ivy’s Charge & Go level 3 fast-chargers have very stiff cables. I was only barely able to wrestle them into the right position – You need two strong arms to navigate the charging cable into the car, and two strong legs to balance while doing so.

Ivy also doesn’t have an obvious way to know which charger is Level 3 vs Level 2, so I first plugged into a Level 2 and then had to change, wasting a bit of time.

I should note that the charging stations are generally far from the service location, uncovered, unlit, and with no windscreen cleaners. Some had a combination of touch screens and buttons which were not intuitive. Also, there are accessibility issues: the chargers are usually found on a raised platform, so there is no way that someone in a wheelchair or with any physical disability could use them. 

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Felicity’s road trip by the numbers:

Total kms driven: 1,298

Total charge cost: $81.53

Total cost of gas to cover the equivalent distance in an equivalent vehicle: ~$200.00 at $1.65/L 

Total time charging: About 4 hours 

Total driving time: Roughly 13 hours, so charging added an extra roughly 30% of time to the trip without the issues with chargers. 

Greenhouse gas emissions: The 2022 Gas Niro (Touring) would have emitted around 160.952 KG of CO2 for the trip vs. 2022 Niro EV emitted around 6.625 KG of CO2 for the trip based on Ontario’s electric energy mix.


Ontario Electricity produces 25 grams/kWh (2020 data)