Jon Seary of St. John’s, Newfoundland, wanted the Ford F-150 Lightning as soon as he could get his hands on one. But the only one he could find was in Ontario. That didn’t deter him, however; Jon bought it and invited his mom, Diane, on a road trip across Canada. They had the truck shipped to Victoria, BC, flew out to pick up the truck and spent 22 days driving all the way home together.
As co-founder of Newfoundland’s electric vehicle resource centre, Drive Electric NL, Jon was an early adopter of electric vehicles. But he’s also a big fan of pickups, and the Lightning allowed him to combine those loves. “I already own a Tesla. My wife owns a Leaf. This is our seventh year of ownership,” he says. “Before that, I’ve always had pickup trucks, so I wanted to experience the electric truck. I wanted to see how well it would work for long-distance travel.”
So in October, Jon’s fellow enthusiasts at the Victoria EV Association hosted a launch party where he officially dipped his tires in the Pacific Ocean. The next day, Jon and his mom, Diane (pronounced dee-ANN), set out on their first cross-Canada road trip in an electric pickup truck. They took the Swartz Bay Ferry to Tsawwassen on the BC mainland, and they were on their way inland to Merritt, BC.
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The Lightning made for an enjoyable drive, with a large cabin and spacious frunk. On a stop outside Kenora, Ontario, Jon says, “We have a front trunk which is quite large and has power outlets, so we brought along our fully automatic Jura espresso machine. When we stop to charge, we run ourselves off a few Americanos.”
The Lightning’s large battery let Jon fit charge stops into his daily routine. The battery, “… can go further than my bladder can,” says Jon. “We are ready to stop, ourselves, by the time we need to stop for a charge. How long to charge is typically the time we want to stop and eat lunch before driving again. If we’re staying at a hotel that provides charging, we just go to the hotel and plug in, and the next day we’re ready to go with a full charge. Off we go, well rested, and in a nice warm truck, too.”
The Lightning’s battery had no serious problems with charger frequency on Jon’s coast-to-coast route. “It’s amazing the kind of distance that we’re going with relative ease. We typically aim for five to six hundred kilometres per day,” Jon observes. “A vast majority of the distance roads, I’ve never driven on before. I’m figuring it out as I go along. It’s not a problem finding chargers. There’s room for improvement, but it’s not insurmountable.”
On stops, Jon planned the route to the next charger using apps and the Lightning’s own dash. “The Lightning does a reasonable job of navigating and can tell us where chargers are, but we also use apps like PlugShare. Expedia will help find hotels with chargers.”
Any problems Jon has had charging have been minor. “Sometimes, it’s finnicky to get [chargers] to go, but there have been enough. It would be nice to have more for redundancy.” As for how to improve charging infrastructure, Jon said, “We’re looking for hospitality to have chargers on the premises. And it doesn’t have to be free. I don’t mind paying for that.”
He also suggested a way for chargers to bring business to small towns: “Municipalities need to make sure there are fast chargers where they want visitors to spend time. If you would like me to stay out on the highway and not visit your community, then stick it out on the highway or an old gas station and that’s where I’ll be. But if you put it with your businesses and town centre, then I’ll duck down there to charge and spend time.”
In addition to chargers supporting small businesses, Jon offered a reason for larger industrial companies to support cross-Canada EV adoption. “There are important things that our oil-producing provinces can do for EV adoption,” he began. “The components for lithium batteries are being extracted from unused oil wells. There are a couple of people working on that technology right here in Canada.
“As a country we need to understand that electric will be far better for everybody: our health and our climate and our economy. EVs in general make far more sense in so many ways [than combustion cars].”
Diane loved the experience of a long-distance trip in an electric vehicle. “Driving in the EV is quiet and very comfortable,” she says. “It’s slightly raised off the road. You have more visibility when you’re driving through long stretches of countryside, so you can see over the hedges. It’s fascinating to see the physical geography. I’m getting to realize why people from the western half of Canada are different from people from the eastern half!”
Jon and Diane reached Nova Scotia on November 5. Two days later, they took the ferry from North Sydney to Port aux Basques, Newfoundland. They broke up their meandering 900-kilometre drive across the island to St. John’s by stopping overnight at Corner Brook, Newfoundland.
For Jon’s arrival ceremony in St. John’s, Drive Electric NL gathered at the Quidi Vidi boat ramp on November 10. There, they watched him dip his tires in the Atlantic Ocean.
As for Jon, he finally has his dream: a fully functional pickup that also happens to be electric. “I congratulate Ford for getting an electric version of their most popular truck on the road,” he said. “It’s a significant step for EV adoption.”