Cross-country electric vehicle tour comes to Charlottetown

Geordie Carragher
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Kent Rathwell, Sun Country president, charges his all electric Tesla Roadster at one of the publically accessible electric vehicle charging stations at the Delta Prince Edward. The vehicle charging network connects cities and town across Canada from St. John’s to Victoria.

In 1912, Thomas Wilby took the first cross-country tour of Canada in a car.

Fifty years later, in 1962, another national tour was taken, this time to commemorate the opening of the Trans-Canada Highway.

In 2012, a Saskatoon-based organization is out to put a positive charge into the automotive industry.

Sun Country Highway, a group committed to leading the electric vehicle movement across Canada, made a stop at the Delta Prince Edward in Charlottetown on Thursday as part of its own cross-country tour called The World’s Longest/Greenest Highway Project to promote its electric vehicle-charging stations set up across Canada.

The stop featured three electric vehicles: a Chevrolet Volt, a Tesla Model S sedan and a Tesla Roadster convertible.

The tour has been well received so far, says Sun Country Highway president and founder Kent Rathwell.

“It’s really invigorating to see how empowered people get, and they’re shocked that the infrastructure is in already,” he said.

Sun Country Highway has set up a level two charging station, which supplies a similar amount of power to what an electric dryer or oven uses, every 100 to 200 kilometres along the Trans-Canada Highway. There are currently 10 charging stations set up in communities across Prince Edward Island.

The Model S starts at $57,000, while the Roadster starts at $119,000.

Rathwell said infrastructure is the biggest challenge facing the emergence of electric vehicles.

“People aren’t buying the cars because there’s no infrastructure, it’s really that simple. There’s no infrastructure like ours in the world.”

The tour started in St. John’s, NL, and the group took a container of water from the Atlantic Ocean, which they plan to dump into the Pacific Ocean when their tour wraps up in Victoria, B.C. on Dec. 21.

The water initiative was motivated by past cross-country tours, Rathwell said.

“One hundred years ago, Thomas Wilby drove across the country, and 50 years ago the Trans-Canada Highway was launched, and they took a container of water and dumped it into the Pacific Ocean. We want to commemorate the past and announce the future.”

The tour continues today at Summerside Town Hall at 9 a.m. before going to New Brunswick on Monday, with stops planned for Moncton, Fredericton and Woodstock.

The potential of electric vehicles is unlimited, Rathwell said.

“This isn’t just about the electric vehicle industry, it’s about greening the transportation sector and trying to create some economic and environmental sustainability. There could be a better green technology that comes out there, but right now I don’t see anything on the horizon, which is why I picked the electric vehicle industry to start.”

Any walls or preconceived notions people may have about electric vehicles are starting to fall, Rathwell said.

“If we can make Canadians think this is possible, then what isn’t possible?”

Organizations: Trans-Canada Highway

Geographic location: Canada, Charlottetown, Pacific Ocean Prince Edward Island Atlantic Ocean Victoria New Brunswick Moncton Fredericton

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Recent comments

  • Jamie Harris
    Jamie Harris
    November 23, 2012 - 01:58

    I am an extreme proponent of the Electric Vehicle Program and I have been doing research on the charging station program for 3 years. The alarming information that I have discovered will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Our emergency responders are not being trained on how to handle an emergency situation and there were no plans in place to do so. Every time a charging station is installed the danger increases and the charging station industry has failed to disclose these known dangers to each city and county they install these appliances. Our emergency responders have no clue on how to disable a charging station that has been involved in an accident and with the lack of education it puts them at serious risk of electrocution. Recently in California, a driver slammed into a light pole and fire hydrant and two good Samaritans did not see the exposed wires underneath the car and were electrocuted with 13 other citizens injured trying to help the driver. What is so alarming is these charging stations carry the same voltage as a light pole and they are being installed on our city streets at an alarming rate, some within feet from the street. We need to demand that our Fire Fighters are properly trained, call your local fire chief and ask about training and as a taxpayer, let them know your do not feel safe with charging station installed and no safety training. I found one company called Greenstar Concepts that offers safety training to emergency responders and I contacted the owner and he was so frustrated at the way the industry has down played this known problem. He told me he contacted the Federal Government (DOE,NFPA, Homeland Security) and was told “training was something not on their radar” and that “There are no funds available to train our emergency responders.” We need to do something about this swiftly before someone gets hurt or killed.

    • EV Person
      November 23, 2012 - 20:13

      Jamie Harris: Really? There needs to be some kind of special training for Fire Fighters? You don't feel safe? Are you kidding? The reason no one has been hurt or killed is because the charging stations are perfectly safe. There is no difference between a charging station and the plug that a clothes dryer plug. Do you not feel safe knowing that millions of people are dying their clothes right now? Please. That's just silly.

  • Stephen Bieda
    November 22, 2012 - 22:19

    Can Kent's last name be fixed for the online version of the article please? His name is Kent Rathwell. Thanks!