6,472 km, 14 days and $64 worth of fuel later, electric car crosses Canada for first time

How would you like to drive across Canada and spend less than $70 in fuel doing so?

Ricky Gu did just that, thanks to an electric car he built himself. The University of British Columbia engineering student drove a modified ’72 Volkswagen Beetle from UBC to Halifax Harbour, spent about $64 in electricity for the 6,472 km journey, and made it in 14 days total (including one day in Toronto for “minor” repairs and media events, and a further two days spent in Quebec waiting out Hurricane Earl.

The car was built with about $25,000 in parts, mostly donated from sponsors or obtained with grant funding. Recharging the car’s electric battery took about four hours and was required every 350 km or so. Gu highlighted that one thing his trip proved was the availability of infrastructure to support electric cars; he said that between truck stops and RV parks he had no trouble finding power sources for his vehicle.

Gu dedicated the trip to Terry Fox, who set off on his cross-Canada Marathon of Hope from the spot Gu finished his. While pouring a bottle of Pacific Ocean water into the Atlantic, he offered a few words for Terry Fox:

“From the Pacific to the Atlantic, we pour this water in memory of a true Canadian hero, Terry Fox. 30 years ago, Terry Fox started his walk across this vast country to raise money for cancer research. We dedicate our humble effort to him. What we have done is simple — we have proven that an all-electric car can travel across Canada using existing infrastructure. … The future is bright and we see the demise of fossil fuel dependency for motor vehicles in the 21st century.”

For more information, and to view highlights of the electric Beetle’s journey, including photos, check out the UBC Electric Car Club’s website.