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Polestar American heartland and Canadian road trip ?3
My latest road trip with the Polestar took me from New England to Denver and back. It yielded a few more lessons learned. First off though, I was reminded to pay attention to charger brands, as Applegreen sought to charge me 59 cents per KWh, whereas a nearby Electrify America had a retail price of just 35. I thereafter set the filter in my Polestar routing to use only Electrify America, even though many other fast charging options are often available. I even went on to take the unusual step (for me) of registering and using the EA app with the $4 per month Plus plan for a 25% discount. I normally don't like giving up personal information, but in this case I just added the plan to the account that was already associated with my wife's Ioniq 5, which already included a free first half hour of charging. In practice that probably could have covered almost all my charging needs since the chargers usually did not seem to differentiate between the two cars. There were two instances (out of perhaps a dozen) where the chargers said no account was found when attempting to use the free Ioniq charging, though. In the end, I was happy to have both options, and to be routing to a known charging entity.
I had the opposite experience on the way out when routing through Ontario, Canada. The idea was that it was a shorter way to reach Ann Arbor, and that Electrify Canada should have been the same system as Electrify America. In practice, though the system was clearly the same vendor and software, the norm in Canada seems to be charging by the minute, which is just wrong. Perhaps as a consequence of this, I found most chargers to be poorly maintained and thus offering only very slow charging rates, despite their stated capabilities. Furthermore, many of the third party vendors require accounts, rather than just a credit card. The first of these would not take an American phone # to create an account, even though they could have charged my American credit card, and thereby nearly left me stranded. I wound up having to back track, charge at ridiculously slow speeds, in order to back track even more until I found one charger (operated by Petrol Canada?) which finally worked as advertised, allowing me to get full, quick charge and cross the western border back into the states. As I went through this process, other EV owners routinely confirmed the sketchiness of charging infrastructure in the area. Ultimately, a route that should have saved me an hour wound up costing me more than four between the slow charges and the backtracking. My personal takeaway is that the viability of BEV road trips in America does NOT extend to Canada.
I also did not yet find a single Tesla charger that has been opened up to other vehicles yet. Upon reaching my destination, I did have an interesting conversation with Tesla and other BEV owners, where the former was conflating slow chargers with all non-Tesla chargers. I mostly just listened, and determined that my experience with flexible and anonymous charging options was generally as fast as what is available from Tesla, without all the strings. In particular, the software on the Polestar was notably better at allowing me to route and select according to my preferences. Again, Tesla's only current advantage is in the number of fast charging stations. If it truly does open those up, that should be moot. If not, the company does not serve compatible EVs equally then it should not be eligible for government subsidies. I sincerely hope this is policed so that the reality matches the benefit, as the issue is rapidly becoming important. My return trip featured the first time ever where I arrived at charge bank and found all four occupied. Fortunately, I did not have to wait long, but the trend has been unmistakable.
A few other minor notes are that I was surprised how little additional drain air conditioning put on my batteries. The Polestar had just received its first complimentary service, which included a new wipers, and cabin air filter. So the latter may have helped. The car also dynamically suggested charging changes that could improve my trip as it monitored how the miles and charge were progressing, but I had to periodically go to the maps page (rather than the home page which monitors many things like maps, phone and radio) to see these suggestions, rather than having them automatically accepted.