Outdoorsy and Electric

Cindy and Darwin live in Prince George. They have always loved the wilderness spaces that we enjoy here in Canada, and in British Columbia especially. They spend a substantial amount of time exploring these areas and recording what they see. But the state of our environment is a big concern for them, including the impact of greenhouse gases on global warming and climate change. They made changes to minimize their carbon footprint, but they struggled to find a transportation solution that fit with their lifestyle of hiking and exploring.

They knew about electric cars: the efficiency, the reduced “cradle to grave” greenhouse gas emissions, and the urban practicality, but range limitations and the available charging network in central and Northern BC held them back. So, they were extremely interested, but it was hard to see how an electric vehicle would fit into their lifestyle.

Then, around six years ago, one of their sons purchased a Nissan Leaf. He not only used it for day-to-day driving, but for recreational activities like mountain biking, skiing and hiking. Driving it, seeing how easy it was to live with, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, was incredibly enlightening. Seeing the build quality first hand, and the car’s day-to-day usefulness really demonstrated that an electric vehicle would be feasible for them. Their thoughts and conversations turned from how, to when.

Though they still had concerns about range, the emergence of new models like the Chevrolet Bolt started to diminish that feeling. Then, they saw the release of the Hyundai Kona, Kia Niro and other longer range EVs and they knew it was time to make a change. So, their research began. From Norway to California, Sweden, Britain, Ontario, South Korea and France, they travelled the world through web articles, videos and research papers to find out which vehicle would work for them.

They also diligently researched the environmental footprints of battery production, lithium mining and cobalt extraction, versus the impact of oil and gas, in order to make a fully informed decision. The final tipping point was when they looked at the dollars and cents. Tallying up the provincial incentive to purchase (the federal incentive was not yet available), plus the savings on gas and maintenance costs, they couldn’t wait to get rid of their big 4×4 pickup truck and buy a Kona Electric. There was no longer any reason to delay purchasing an EV.

They chose the Kona because it was the best fit for their lifestyle. It packs gear and two medium sized dogs, and has more than acceptable highway range. They’ve had the car since March 2019 and have no regrets; they just wish that the technology was available 10 years ago. The vehicle itself is not weird, over the top, futuristic or strange: It looks, feels, and drives like the SUV crossover it is, with the added bonus of no emissions from a tailpipe. Just get in and push D for drive.

Living in Northern BC, they understand that range anxiety is a challenge for many to overcome. But those fears are disappearing quickly with the installation of level 2 and 3 chargers along highways 97 and 16. A little pre-planning as to where and when to charge has allowed them to travel anywhere they want to go.

Cindy and Darwin brought their Kona home from Victoria to Prince George and had no issues – they were amazed by how easy it was to find charging stations using the PlugShare app. The check-in feature, which allows users to provide feedback about charging stations, was a great help and very reassuring. They’ve only had a small taste of what winter conditions do to battery range (two weeks of -20 C weather and snowy driving) but it was enough to reassure them that winter driving in Northern BC will not be an issue.

Their next trip will be a two-week summer vacation with the Kona, including a four day overnight backpacking trip in the mountains of south eastern BC and low-land camping for the rest of the time. The car will be packed for sure (their truck always was) and will have a pod on the roof for gear, but owning an EV does not limit them in doing what they love recreationally.

They still own a 2002 Land Rover Discovery and use it to drive hundreds of kilometres down logging roads to back country adventures. But even the Land Rover has its limitations: there are no gas stations where they go, so they stress that range anxiety can be a concern even with gas. The Land Rover is spending way more time in the driveway now than Cindy and Darwin ever thought it would. They’ve come to realize that they need it very little.

The Kona is fun, and with the constantly improving charging infrastructure, and increasing variety of vehicles becoming available, Cindy and Darwin hope to be ambassadors to help others realize that the electric lifestyle is feasible. Now to convert the Land Rover to electric …it has been done in the UK, and Darwin needs a retirement project in a few years!

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