Next Ride aims to boost adoption of electric vehicles by providing Nova Scotians with education and first-hand experience of EVs
Going the distance took on a different meaning for Nova Scotia’s Minister of Energy and Mines, Derek Mombourquette, last week.
Mombourquette, who also serves as the Member of the Legislative Assembly for Sydney-Whitney Pier, usually commutes weekly about 400 kilometres between Sydney and Halifax. On July 4, to help promote the launch of Next Ride, a nonprofit that aims to provide Nova Scotians with opportunities to learn about and test EVs, Mombourquette drove a Chevrolet Bolt from Halifax back to his home riding.
1/3: Today, I’m embarking on a tour from Halifax to Sydney in an electric vehicle. I'm pleased to be joined by representatives from the @cleanfoundation in promoting this new, unique, fun & eco-friendly mode of transportation. pic.twitter.com/3ZsM5xFLve— Derek Mombourquette (@HomeMattersCB) July 4, 2019
Next Ride is funded by the Nova Scotia Department of Energy and Mines and is administered by the Clean Foundation, a nonprofit charity that focuses on education and sustainability.
Speaking to Electric Autonomy Canada from the vehicle en route, Mombourquette said supporting Next Ride is part of the government’s environmentally friendly energy strategy. “We wanted to show residents you could very easily take this car from Sydney to Halifax,” he said.
A “great” experience
The Nova Scotia strategy also includes adding more renewable energy to the electricity system and, in 2018, helping to fund the launch of a province-wide EV charging network. Lead funders of that EV network were Emera Inc. (Nova Scotia Power’s parent company) and the federal government.
This was the first time Mombourquette drove an EV, but he called the experience “great.”
He also highlighted the car’s ability to travel long distances — about 380 kilometres — before needing to be recharged. That meant on this 400-kilometre trip it would only need to be charged twice, once before the drive began and again mid-way.
Mombourquette said EVs aren’t as popular in rural areas as they are in cities, in part, because drivers worry about their range. So, it’s important that they get accurate information about the vehicles. This is why he wanted to participate in Next Ride — to make sure he knew more about EVs before promoting them. “I want to get a feel for it,” he said. “I want to make sure Nova Scotians have all the information in front of them.”
To help, the government and other partners have also launched a website that provides information about EVs in the province, including charging station locations, frequently asked questions and testimonials from owners.
Skeptics encouraged to try it
Jérémie Bernardin, president of the Electric Vehicle Association of Atlantic Canada, accompanied Mombourquette on the ride. He encouraged Nova Scotians not to be skeptical. “Come and try it. If you’re saying your gas car is better; you haven’t tried ours. That’s the key part,” he said.
Mombourquette and Bernardin made stops along the way to talk with the public. They recharged using a Level 3 charger in Stellerton, one of 12 fast chargers in the Nova Scotia Power network. Stellerton’s station is about 160 kilometres from Halifax. The cost for the entire ride was $16.
The trip, which began at Province House, started with announcements and a photo opp for local media. Iain Rankin, provincial Minister of Lands and Forests, also attended. MP Sean Fraser, Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, joined Mombourquette and Bernardin for part of the drive.
The duo and the Energy and Mines ministry also posted photos and videos on social media. By chronicling their journey online Mombourquette and Bernardin hoped to start more conversations around the reliability and efficiency of EVs. “We’ll have fun with it,” said Bernardin before setting off.
The Next Ride campaign continues this summer with appearances at the Highland Games in Antigonish, the Western Exhibition in Yarmouth and other events and locations.