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Can an electric car cover Canada and the U.S.? This man is driving 25,000 km to find out

Wade Anderson is in the middle of an epic two-month road trip to extreme points around Canada and the U.S.A. and hoping he can keep his car charged the whole way.

Wade Anderson hopes to cover 32 states, 5 provinces and territories in 2 months

Wade Anderson is in the middle of an epic two-month road trip to extreme points around North America in his Tesla. He hopes to hit 32 states and five provinces and territories. (Haydn Watters/CBC)

Wade Anderson is hoping to drive to some of the most extreme points in Canada and the U.S.A. That is, if he can keep his car charged.

The Tucson, Ariz., man is three weeks into a two-month road trip around the continent in his electric car, a Tesla Model 3. He left from Tucson last month and has already hit the southernmost and easternmost points in the continental U.S. — with many more "extremes" in his sights. 

"I'm just going on a journey," he said at a pit stop in Woodstock, Ont., 16 days into his trip. "It's important to get out there and just live life and have these experiences."

Just how far he can get — and how fast — all depends on charging though.

Anderson has plotted out this map of extreme points around the continent. He expects it will take him about two months to do and he will drive more than 25,000 km. (CBC)

Finding electric vehicle charging is not a problem in big cities and heavily populated areas. But Anderson knows it will be an issue as he gets to more remote locations. After all, he's attempting to get to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, the northermost point you can drive to in the U.S.

To get there, he's headed through Canada. He's still figuring out how charging will work that far north.

"Whitehorse has a charger somewhere there, it's a public charger," he said. "But after that, I don't know yet."

Wade Anderson is in the middle of a two month epic road trip to extreme points around North America in his Tesla. Haydn Watters caught up with him in Woodstock, Ontario. 4:04

'We're not quite there yet'

It's called "range anxiety" — that nagging worry about running out of fuel, or in this case, a charge. 

He said the best place to recharge Teslas is at stations known as superchargers. They charge the vehicles the fastest and give the most range. But there are no superchargers in all of Alaska.

Other plugs work too, but they are a lot slower to charge. A standard 120-volt outlet only gives about eight km of range per hour of charging, not ideal given Anderson plans to drive more than 25,000 km in just two months. It's a problem in Canada too, where superchargers are scant in parts of the country.

Anderson will schedule meet ups at superchargers ⁠— or just spontaneously meet people there along the way. 'I’ve met people I would never meet normally because they are from a different realm.' (Haydn Watters/CBC)

If you're on a cross-country drive, there currently aren't any superchargers between Sudbury and Fort MacLeod, Alta., a 2,900-km distance. Tesla is planning on opening several along this route sometime later this year.

John Dixon, president and founder of the Tesla Owners Club of Ontario, said there are more chargers than before, but acknowledges there is still work to do.

"We're not quite there yet," he said. He notes that it becomes even more complicated in the Canadian winter, when cold weather lowers an electric vehicle's range.

Anderson takes a look at his supercharger options. While the U.S. has plenty, his options in Canada are more scant. (Haydn Watters/CBC)

Dixon said long-distance trips like Anderson's are doable.

"You just have to plan it out and you just have to be willing to wait a bit longer."

'Don't want to have a lot of regrets'

This is far from Anderson's first adventure — he once rode a bike from Key West, Fla., to Alaska. He's a physiotherapist in Arizona, where he works six days a week for 10 months so he can take two months off to do this kind of trip. 

The journey takes him through 32 states and into five provinces and territories.

"I'm hoping to be done in two months. That's what I've budgeted for and that's still a stretch, because especially hotels get very expensive," he said.

Anderson is driving alone, but has stopped to visit old friends and new ones — he meets up with people he discovers on Twitter at superchargers along the route. He's got multiple cameras strapped up inside his car so he can document his travels and post videos online.

Anderson named his car Eve, after the female robot in the animated movie Wall-E. 'It’s a white car and I thought she was like this badass robot in the movie and this is a badass car, so I thought the name fit.' (Haydn Watters/CBC)

He's hoping he can inspire others to take a trip like this.

"So much is fear, it's holding us back. We don't want to go out, we don't want to do these things, because we're afraid. We're comfortable in our life," he said.

"I don't want to have a lot of regrets at the end of my life when the time comes. So when I'm in good health right now, I need to do these things while I can."

About the Author

Haydn Watters is a roving reporter for Ontario, primarily serving the province's local radio shows. He has worked for CBC News and CBC Radio in Halifax, Yellowknife, Ottawa and Toronto, with stints at the politics bureau and the entertainment unit. He also ran an experimental one-person pop-up bureau for the CBC in Barrie, Ont.

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