Electric vehicle road trips in Ontario
With the rise in popularity of electric vehicles, the speed of charging and the number of charging stations in Ontario has also increased.
Many gas stations, carpool parking lots, hotels, shopping centres and other public places are offering charging stations, some of which are free. In fact, there are more than 1,800 public charging stations with over 5,000 charging ports across the province.
The long, sunny days of summer and the colourful display of fall foliage make road tripping a must in Ontario. With road trip season upon us, here are some things to keep in mind before you head out in an electric vehicle.
Charger levels and connectors
Electric vehicles (and plug-in hybrids) can be charged by three different types, or levels, of chargers. There are also different connectors, or plugs, used by different EV manufacturers, so check what plug your vehicle has as you may require an adapter.
Level 1: one hour of charge = approximately eight kilometres of driving range
This is the slowest charger that involves plugging your EV's cord into a standard 120V household or workplace wall outlet. Typically, level one charging is not used in commercial settings and is not advised for road trips.
Level 2: one hour of charge = approximately 30 kilometres of driving range
The more commonly used level of charging is plugging into a more powerful 208V - 240V outlet. Some Level 2 chargers are free to use.
Level 3: one hour of charge = approximately 250+ kilometres of driving range
This high-voltage (400-900V) direct current (DC) charger can often get your battery level to about 80% in under an hour. This is the quickest way to charge an EV. The Level 3 DC Fast Chargers or Superchargers typically cost between $3 and $5 for a 15-minute charge.
Get more information on where and how to charge an EV in Ontario.
Plan your road trip destination
Start planning your EV road trip to destinations in Ontario where you can feel confident knowing you will find a place to charge your vehicle. Beyond the two largest EV-friendly cities in Ontario, Toronto and Ottawa, here are more suggestions.
If cultural experiences and outdoor adventures like camping, hiking and paddling are on your fall travel list, Parks Canada has invested in electric vehicle charging stations at several of their natural and wilderness sites in Ontario. The charging stations are free to use with your park fees, where applicable. Sites include:
- Georgian Bay Islands National Park, Honey Harbour: connectors are located near the park workshop
- Pukaskwa National Park, Marathon: Tesla chargers are located two kilometres from the visitor centre in the administrative parking lot
- Point Pelee National Park, Leamington: chargers are at the Marsh Boardwalk
- Rouge National Urban Park, Toronto: EV chargers are available in the Bob Hunter Memorial Park and Reesor Road Day Use Area in Markham
In addition, Parks Canada has also outfitted these National Historic Sites with charging stations:
- Rideau Canal National Historic Site, Smith Falls Visitor Centre
- Bellevue House National Historic Site, Kingston
- Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site, Peterborough
- HMCS Haida National Historic Site, Hamilton
- Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site, Sault Ste. Marie
- Fort George National Historic Site, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Prince Edward County & Kingston
Experience the carefree charm and food-loving culture in two of Ontario’s favourite road trip destinations. Tour vineyards and orchards and taste local wine, cider and craft beer. Explore artistic and artisanal communities, sandy beaches and scenic hiking trails in ‘The County’. And soak in the history, culture and exceptional cuisine in Kingston, Canada’s original capital.
Where to charge your EV: Several businesses in Prince Edward County offer EV charging to guests, and there is a combo charging station in the municipal parking lot at 55 King Street in downtown Picton. Learn about Kingston’s public EV charging network.
Stunning limestone cliffs and rock formations overlooking tropical blue waters, intriguing shipwrecks, historic lighthouses and natural forest wilderness are just some of the attractions that draw visitors to this scenic spot that juts out between Lake Huron and Georgian Bay.
Where to charge your EV: To encourage travellers to reduce their carbon footprint, the Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association has installed 50 Level 2 electric vehicle chargers at local accommodations, including hotels, motels and campgrounds so travelling by electric vehicle to Bruce Peninsula just got a lot more convenient.
Waterloo Region to Elora & Fergus
From the bustling, tech-savvy downtown core of Kitchener and Waterloo to the small-town appeal of Elora and Fergus, there a wide variety of things to do and see. Stop in at the St. Jacob’s Farmers’ Market, the largest in Canada offering everything from local produce to antiques and other unique treasures. Spend a day river tubing along the Grand River at the Elora Gorge. And catch the Highland Games in Fergus, a community steeped in Scottish traditions.
Where to charge your EV: There are over 100 charging stations between Kitchener and Waterloo, and a public charging station is located in the parking lot at the Elora Tourism Information Office.
In addition to Canada’s most established wine region and the spectacular Niagara Falls, there is a lot to discover along the Niagara Peninsula. If you love hiking, explore the beautiful trails through Carolinian Forest at Niagara Glen Nature Reserve. If old-town Victorian architecture, historic sites and exceptional theatre is your passion, head to Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Where to charge your EV: Electric car drivers have a wide selection of spots that offer EV charging in the Niagara area.
Sault Ste. Marie & Algoma Country
You need to experience the beauty of Northern Ontario’s wilderness to truly understand how expansive and magnificent it is. Even the skies are big and wild when the Northern Lights dance across the skies. Unique attractions, a culinary and brewery scene sure to satisfy every palate and epic outdoor adventure at its doorstep makes Sault Ste. Marie a great road tripping base.
Where to charge your EV: A variety of accommodations, gas stations and car dealerships offer EV charging stations in Sault Ste. Marie.
London & Area
It’s fitting that London is nicknamed the ‘Forest City’ with a plethora of parks, trails, gardens and green spaces. This southwest Ontario city is also a cultural hub that hosts a full and eclectic roster of festivals from live music to pride events to food and drink celebrations.
Where to charge your EV: Over 100 public EV charging ports make London a great destination for EV road trippers.
Plan your route
Whether you’re heading out for a day trip, a weekend getaway or a couple of weeks on the road, plan ahead to avoid any problems. You’ll want to map out where electric car charging stations are along your route.
And be sure to have alternative routes mapped out with charging stations just in case a station is not working. Here’s a comprehensive list of charging stations across Ontario.
Electric vehicle apps
There are also helpful apps available to locate charging stations and the cost to charge your electric vehicle. The app’s maps are continuously updated so you can view everything in real-time and read user reviews, which offer extra insight for your trip.
ONroute service stations
Over 20 ONroute rest stops along Ontario’s major highways 401 and 400 provide travellers with a number of services and amenities such as washrooms, Wi-Fi, food and beverage options, gas stations and now between two and four EV chargers with 150kW CCS and 50kW CHAdeMO connectors that cost 30 cents per minute.
Petro-Canada charging stations
In addition to approximately a dozen charging stations in Southern Ontario, Petro-Canada has installed charging stations at various locations along the Trans-Canada Highway.
Plan where to stay
Staying at accommodations with electric car charging stations makes an EV road trip a lot more convenient.
Top hotel chains such as Hilton and Choice Hotels are leading the way to meet the needs of EV travellers with charging facilities, as are many of Ontario’s unique inns and boutique hotels. You’ll find EV charging for guests at Elm Hurst Inn & Spa near London, Elora Mill Hotel & Spa in Elora and Inn at Huff Estates Winery in Prince Edward County.
Booking websites like Expedia or Airbnb include EV charging as a filter option to find hotels, motels, resorts and private homes offering a plug in.
In addition, EVHotels.org is a mobile app designed to locate hotels with EV charging facilities from around the world.
Electric vehicle rentals and assistance
Renting an electric vehicle for your next road trip is a great opportunity to save on gas and experience driving an EV. Rental and car share companies in Ontario include:
Get more Ontario road trip inspiration
Electric vehicles are good for the planet, your wallet and now for road trips in Ontario. So, if you haven’t already taken one for a drive, now is the perfect time to get behind the wheel and set out on an epic EV road trip, wherever it may take you. Get more road trip inspirations with these themed Ontario itineraries.
Last updated: March 13, 2023