By Angelica Ingram
Published Feb. 9 2017
John Patterson has had an electric vehicle for nearly two years and only once has he run out of energy and been stuck on the side of the road.
On a trip back from Toronto Patterson was nearly at his Cranberry Lake home in West Guilford when a message appeared on his dashboard.
“Pull off the road safely the car is about to stop” read the message Patterson told the paper. “The message was totally accurate. The car stopped.”
Stranded on Highway 118 near the Art Hive Patterson relied on the kindness of a friend who brought him a portable gasoline generator.
Describing the moment as inconvenient and highly embarrassing Patterson jokes that it felt like half of his friends in Haliburton happened to be driving by that night.
“I have not nor do I intend to see that message on the dashboard again” he wrote in an email. “Two years one empty tank. Not so bad really.”
The probability of Patterson running out of electricity again is becoming more and more unlikely thanks to recent local efforts to bring charging stations to the region.
This month Rhubarb restaurant in Carnarvon will be installing a Tesla charging station in the parking lot of their establishment at the intersection of highways 118 and 35.
The idea came from having customers like Patterson and owner Chris Carl’s interest in green energy.
“He loves cars [and] he loves the idea of electric cars” said Terri Mathews-Carl Rhubarb owner and Carl’s wife. “Just the idea of having that option available for people coming off the highway who especially might be going to Kennisis or Redstone who still have another 45 minute drive. This way they can stop have dinner and charge their car.”
The charging station has already arrived at the restaurant and is being installed this month said Mathews-Carl.
She points to the Haliburton County Farmers’ Market located next to the restaurant during the summer months as a convenient attraction for people to enjoy while charging up their vehicle.
Mathews-Carl said the charging station was supplied by Tesla a company that manufactures premium electric cars and SUVs after the restaurant applied for it.
Part of the installation cost is covered by Tesla while Rhubarb is responsible for covering the remainder of the installation and the ongoing electricity costs.
Mathews-Carl said so far Tesla has been great to work with.
The same sentiment is shared by Riverside Inn owner/operator Margy Taylor who said the restaurant in Norland has had a Tesla charging station since May of 2016.
Since it was installed 31 vehicles have plugged into the free service.
Taylor said she and her partner James Burton were also inspired to install a charging station by a customer who owns a Tesla.
After contacting the company they got a quick reply that they were indeed a suitable location for a station.
“Basically we’re two and a half hours north of Toronto” said Taylor pointing to its convenience for cottagers and tourists.
Tesla paid for the entire installation however the restaurant pays for the electricity use. There is a red sign in the parking lot advertising the station which was also supplied by Tesla.
“The company is amazing to work with” said Taylor.
Taylor said the station gets more use during the summer months and that there has been tremendous positive feedback since it was installed.
“It’s just another plus for our customers” she said. “We’re very service orientated here and very community oriented … the world is going in that direction and it’s just another option for people who have electric cars.”
Patterson said he is more likely to support a business that offers a charging station and has stopped at the Riverside Inn location before.
“I am keen to see as much accessibility as possible for those who drive electric” he said. “We are speaking here not of a whimsical ‘toy’ but of a revolution in how we get around. We human beings are addicted to convenient mobility. Let’s do it in ways that reduce the weight of our habits on the environment that we love.”
Patterson said he made the decision to get an electric vehicle as he believes alternate energy sources need to be developed and applied to the most polluting technologies.
“I bought the Tesla primarily to support a non-polluting alternative to gasoline as a way to get around. Secondarily though Tesla is expensive every time I pass a gas station without having to go in I am saving money” he said.
Less expensive electric vehicles are making their way to the market. Tesla charging stations can charge other brands of electric vehicles with the use of an adapter.
Patterson has a medium speed 220 volt charger at his home. He is able to fully charge the car overnight and travel 430 kilometres in the summer on a full charge or 350 km in the winter. The cold weather decreases the battery performance.
He is looking forward to having more charging options in the area as he has also charged up at locations in Toronto and Barrie in the past.
“If the tank is getting low it is worth it to stop in and avoid being stranded” he said.