New Brunswick

Electric cars owners wonder if New Brunswick has enough chargers

New Brunswickers are ordering the new Tesla Model 3, but now are looking around for charging stations in the province.

With affordable electric cars coming in near future, are there enough chargers to power them?

The Tesla Model 3 has had hundreds of thousands of pre-orders including some from New Brunswickers. It is expected to be released in late 2017 (Tesla Website)

It's estimated that nearly half a million people have pre-ordered the latest electric promise from car maker Tesla: A $35,000 U.S. all-electric car able to cover more than 300 kilometres per charge.

Some of those pre-orders have come from New Brunswickers who are curious about how their shift to all-electric will play out in a province where charge stations are still a rarity. 

"I was one of the crazy ones that didn't even see what it would look like before I put $1,000 down," said David Alston, who pre-ordered a Tesla Model 3 the day the option was posted online. 

"It's this idea of being able to move and getting off the carbon economy, getting away from that kind of fuel that puts carbon in the atmosphere. So for me it's really about being a part of that vision." 

The Tesla Model 3 promises to never need gas stations, but will instead rely on charge stations to juice its batteries as it travels far from home. 

David Alston pre-ordered the upcoming Tesla Model 3, an all-electric vehicle the company promised will offer further driving distances without charging, for $35,000 US. (Shane Fowler/CBC)
Alston currently drives a Chevrolet Volt, a car that exhausts its limited electric charge before switching to a gasoline engine as a fail-safe.

There are also other vehicles with varying electrical reliance from competing companies, such as Nissan and GM, on the horizon.

But none have the buzz, or the pre-order power of more than 400,000 behind them, such as the Tesla Model 3.

"But with an all-electric if you travel far from home, you're going to have to rely on a charging station," said Alston. 

Province has 41 stations

The CAA website lists 41 charging stations throughout New Brunswick available to charge electric vehicles. 

Tesla has their name on seven of those stations through partnerships with manufacturers and placements deals with hotels.

But none of those are the famed Tesla  "superchargers," which are free to use and able to refill a battery in around 20 minutes.

This Tesla charging station is the only one sporting the electric car company's logo in Fredericton. Located at an Amsterdam Inn, it's one of 41 in the province. (Shane Fowler/CBC)
The majority of chargers in New Brunswick are rated level 2, most of which are still free to use but require three to five hours to bring a dead battery back to life. 

The closest Tesla superchargers to New Brunswick are in Augusta, Me., and just outside of Sherbrooke, Que. 

"They've promised to build them around the world," said Alston, about Tesla's plans to offer a free-to-use network of superchargers.

"The question is, if they'll have them here before a lot of people start owning the cars." 

NB Power leads charge

In the meantime, one of the most active builders of level 2 chargers in New Brunswick is the provincial power company.

NB Power has more than a dozen electric chargers in the province that are free to use and offer the bonus of free parking in urban centres while owners wait to charge up. 

"We have been testing charging stations and we've installed seven public charging stations and six fleet charging stations throughout the province," wrote NB Power spokesperson Marie-Andree Buldoc in an email.

"NB Power is supporting the uptake of electric vehicles in New Brunswick with a plan to have public networked chargers installed in many areas of the province." 

NB Power's newest charge station went online last weekend in Shediac. 

"We are focused on developing a charging infrastructure in the province for the benefit of New Brunswick EV owners and those EV drivers visiting the province," wrote Buldoc. 

For drivers, such as Alston, he said the issue of adding more chargers is a classic "chicken and egg problem."

"Will we get more chargers as more people drive electric, or will the drivers come first?" he said.

"With the bigger batteries the idea is you'll be able to go a lot farther without having to worry about it."


Shane Fowler


Shane Fowler has been a CBC journalist based in Fredericton since 2013.