Last summer I made my way across Canada from Vancouver to Toronto and back. For the most part, the trip stuck to the Trans Canada Highway which meant easy access to Tesla Superchargers. Edmonton to Saskatoon, however, was very different.
This trip took place before the Superchargers opened up on the Yellowhead Highway. This meant getting creative with charging in an area that had very few options. This stretch also included some odd encounters along the way.
With that in mind, here is my Edmonton to Saskatoon EV road trip report.
A reminder, this was my initial plan with estimated costs:
What To Do While You Charge in Edmonton?
Although I was in Edmonton to visit friends, I did take in some sights and activities. Much of it centred around the downtown core.
Edmonton is known for its many festivals and my girlfriend and I just happened to be visiting during Taste of Edmonton, a festival I enjoyed when I lived there. I found parking with free EV charging at Precise ParkLink which is a short walk away from Sir Winston Churchill Square where the festival was taking place. There are 13 L2 chargers at 7kW and parking is $6.50 per hour.
Highlevel Bridge Street Car
After stuffing our faces we hopped on a couple of Lime Scooters and made our way to the Highlevel Bridge Street Car, an electric train that has been crossing the North Saskatchewan River since the early 1900s. It wasn’t intentional to have such an electrified day but the irony of being in oil country certainly wasn’t lost.
The train rides on a track above the Highlevel Bridge giving riders an exhilarating ride with amazing views. On top of that, it connects downtown Edmonton to the shops, bars, and restaurants of Whyte Avenu in a unique and fun way.
Whyte Avenu is near the University of Alberta grounds and, as such, has a high concentration of bars and clubs. On my last visit to Edmonton (pre-pandemic) I noticed how rundown the area was with many stores shut. It seemed to be signs of the times with the oil industry in decline. I was fearing the worst when we got off the street car but was surprised to find a very lively street.
On top of that, many new restaurants and bars had opened up since my last visit. Highights included Made by Marcus ice cream and a giant outdoor beer garden connected to the Commercial Hotel and Blues on Whyte.
Where To Charge and Stay in Edmonton?
Options are limited when it comes to accommodations with EV charging in Edmonton. Thankfully, the most iconic and historic hotel in the city does. The Fairmount Hotel McDonald has an 8kW Tesla destination charger free with hotel parking. Vallet is $25 a night.
Edmonton to Lloydminster
After enjoying a couple of days with friends and rediscovering the city, it was time to hit the road. We departed with 97% and, interestingly, was only getting an estimated 467 km of the range. This should be closer to 500+ km and was a bit concerning so early in my trip. I would later attributed some strong winds in the prairies to the drop in range.
We had a couple of stops planned before the first charge. This stretch of Canada was settled by Ukrainians and, as such, has some notable Ukrainine things to see.
Mundare is known for its kubasa sausage…and the giant statue of the same. It’s odd, to say the least.
We arrived in Mundare with 68% instead of the planned 75%. Consumption at this point wasn’t bad either at 185 Wh/km.
After a photo stop, we grabbed some sausages to go along and continued on.
Vegreville Giant Egg
Not to be outdone, Vegreville has its own giant attraction – a massive (and for some reason, spinning) decorative egg.
This massive Pysanka Egg is an odd sight to see but pairs well with a giant sausage I suppose. There is some incredible detail in the design which makes for a unique stop to stretch the legs.
Golfing While Charging
The drive between Edmonton and Saskatoon is ~540 km and, at the time, had no reliable charging options until past the halfway point of Lyodminster. Peavy Marts have L2 chargers however the reviews on Plugshare at the time all reported as down at the two locations before North Battlford. I called ahead to make sure and this was indeed the case.
This only left car dealerships in Lloydminster. I had never used a car dealerships charger but Plugshare comments show they are open for public use. That said, the dealerships were close to being closed by the time I arrived and it was not clear when I called if the power would be left on for after-hours use. On top of that, these dealerships weren’t really near anything. As such, I got creative.
This lead me to the Rolling Green Fairways Golf Course & RV Park. Although it cost me $42 to book an RV stall with a Nema 14-50 outlet, it was connected to a golf course. The course was in pretty bad shape but it gave us something fun to do while the car charged.
We arrived at the course with 17%, which was just 8% less than planned. It was a hot one out so the AC definitely played a role in this.
After 18-holes and a quick meal, the car was up to 80%, more than enough to continue on to North Battleford, 146 km away.
Fun in North Battleford
We arrived in North Battleford with 41% which is exactly what the Tesla navigation projected. The extra buffer was nice as when we and rolled up to a Peavey Mart charger I wasn’t overally confident it would work given Plugshare reviews. To my pleasant suprise, I started pulling 7kw once plugged in.
With that, we made our way to the front side of the strip mall in search of something to eat. After about 25 minutes and a salad from Freshi, later we made our way back. That’s when we spotted an older gentleman confusingly looking at his car. We stopped to see if he needed a hand and quickly realized he was not all there. This resulted in several confusing minutes of trying to help him call a family member for assistance. Midway through, I got a notification that my charging was interrupted.
Over Staying my Welcome
I left my partner to assist the older gentlemen and went to investigate the car. I was worried that the charger was shut off but instead found a Bolt parked next to my car. The owner got out to explain that he just needed enough to get back to his farm and would only be 15-minutes. He then went on to tell me that 30-minutes is the unwritten rule for using the charger. I appreciate charging etiquette but didn’t love that he unplugged my car. I explained the situation we were in helping a local but he didn’t seem to care.
Once the Volt was done, I plugged the car back in and returned to the stranded gentlemen. My girlfriend didn’t get much further so I ended up calling the police to assist. They showed up and were not much help, other than aggressively ruling out that he wasn’t drunk. My girlfriend was finally able to get a hold of one of his family members and, after confirmation they were on their way, we hit the road. On the positive, this delay got us some extra charge, getting us into Saskatoon with a projected 21%
ICED in Saskatoon
With all the excitement in North Battleford, we were late getting into Saskatoon. This meant arriving to find a packed hotel parkade with both EV charging sports ICED. I rolled in with 16% and needed to be on the road early AM so was less than ideal.
I was once again staying at the Alt Hotel so I already knew they had super comfortable and modern rooms with views of the river. What I didn’t know until this visit is how great the staff is.
I let the front desk know of the situation and they were great. They advised me that they would try and contact the guests in those spots. I felt bad about this as it was close to midnight but felt less bad when the lady that moved the car cursed me out. Weird how someone in the wrong can act this way…
My Edmonton to Saskatoon EV road trip provided some interesting challenges. Even though this route now has Tesla Superchargers, there were some takeaways for similar routes and scenarios in the future;
- Leave a note in your window with a cellphone number when charging at public chargers. The owner who unplugged my car could have called to explain the situation instead of unplugging my car and risking damaging the charging port.
- Use a charger lock. I will also be buying a lock for the J1772 adapter to prevent others from unplugging the car. I don’t recommend using this without clearly displaying a note though.
- Arrive early at your accommodations to ensure you have a charging spot! Arriving late runs the risk of being ICED or arriving to find all spots in use. With the increased numbers of EVs on the road, hotels are lagging behind in catching up with charging stalls.
Edmonton to Saskatoon Road Trip – Charging Costs
So what did this 541 km Edmonton to Saskatoon road trip cost me?
6 hr, 55 min Charging
Since charging at the Peavy Mart and the Alt Hotel in Saskatoon was free, the only charging cost was at the RV park. It was by far the longest amount of time charging on one leg since both stops were level two chargers. All the more reason to be happy to see Tesla Superchargers on the Yellowhead now!