Last winter, Laurie Thomson was behind the wheel of her Tesla, driving from her home in Toronto to her cottage near Huntsville. She’d passed through Barrie and was halfway to Gravenhurst when she realized her Tesla was almost out of juice. “You use up a lot more battery in the winter,” she says. “The efficiency of the battery is much lower.”
Fearing she wouldn’t have enough charge to make it to the cottage, Thomson pulled a U-turn. “I actually had to turn around and go back to Barrie and charge there in order to get to Huntsville where I could charge again,” she says.
The fear of running out of battery before finding an e-vehicle charging station is known as range anxiety and is one of the biggest deterrents to driving an electric vehicle. This is particularly relevant in the Muskoka area when you consider that there’s a distance of just over 100 kilometres between Barrie and Huntsville’s charging stations.
Cottagers navigating this area with e-vehicles are forced to take an extra step of preparedness by ensuring their vehicles have enough charge to handle the distance. “Having something between Barrie and Huntsville would be really appreciated by the cottagers, and anyone who drives an electric vehicle,” Thomson says.
Gravenhurst may be providing a solution to this. The town council is looking into government funding for universal e-vehicle charging stations, according to a report in MuskokaRegion.com.
Coun. Jo Morphy was quoted in the article as saying, “There are very few options for charging up in our neck of the woods. I’d like to put them off Highway 11 in Gravenhurst while [drivers are] on their way to Algonquin or places north of us.”
The proposed charging stations would not only make Muskoka more accessible to e-vehicle owners, but it would contribute to the federal government’s zero-emission vehicle infrastructure program. The program’s aim is to have zero-emission vehicles account for 10 per cent of annual light-vehicle sales by 2025, 30 per cent by 2030, and 100 per cent by 2040.
Thomson is attempting to transition her family to driving electric vehicles only. Currently, she drives a Tesla and a Highlander Hybrid, but is thinking of buying a Chevrolet Volt. She says she isn’t the only Muskoka cottager with this mentality. “I know a number of people that I’ve spoken to who have cottages in Muskoka own an electric vehicle and would like to be able to drive them.”
To accomplish this, however, e-vehicle owners need towns like Gravenhurst to follow through on charging station proposals. “The more charging stations that are available, the faster electric vehicles are going to be adopted, and, as a society, we do need to go in that direction,” Thomson says.