© TC Media
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?”