Mike and I have been proud owners of an electric vehicle (Tesla Model Y—an SUV) since late July 2020.
In fact we were one of the first 50 people in Alberta to get the Model Y (it’s one of their newer models).
We’re now six months into being ICE-less (lol ICE is the acronym for non-electric vehicles: Internal Combustion Engine vehicles. You learn it when you become EV—electric vehicle—owners lol). We’ve driven the EV in both summer and winter conditions, for close to home commutes and further away road trips.
There’s some huge perks to having our Tesla (we’ve affectionately named her Ysabella—Y for the Model Y lol). But there’s also some annoyances that are worth noting too.
And with a recent survey showing 70% of Canadians are considering an electric vehicle for their next new vehicle purchase, I figured now was as good a time as any to share our thoughts on the pros and cons of owning an electric vehicle in Alberta!
Some bigger picture pro/cons plus some smaller, more specific Tesla pro/cons.
Please note: this is a super casual Tesla owner’s review! I do not put Elon on a pedestal (unlike Mike lol), nor do I know much about other electric vehicles (or even Teslas lol) beyond some of the research I did for this post. I am also not a typical “car reviewer” so expect a different read if you typically read car blogs!
This post is most relevant for those interested in Tesla ownership in Alberta. At the bottom I also outline what we paid for our Tesla (and how much more ‘attainable’ it is than you might think!)
This post is NOT sponsored by Tesla though that would be cool if they wanted to sponsor LOL.
Pros and Cons to Owning an Electric Vehicle (Tesla Model Y) in Alberta
For context: Mike and I own a Tesla Model Y LR (Long Range) AWD (All Wheel Drive).
Pro: we pay less expenses each month (no gas!)
Perhaps the biggest “pro” of owning an electric vehicle is that we no longer have to pay for gas.
Before getting our Tesla, I was filling up our SUV as much as every 4 days depending on the week. It cost around $40-$50 to fill up. I was filling up 6-7x per month or spending $280-$350 per month on gas alone.
Add to that, on average, before getting our Tesla, we were paying about $155 per month for electricity.
So on the lower end, with gas + electricity expenses pre-EV, we were paying around $435 per month.
On the higher end, close to $500 per month.
Since we’ve switched to an electric vehicle, on average, we pay about $215 per month for our electricity bill, and nothing for gas.
That’s just $60 more on electricity we’re paying each month due to charging our vehicle at home, but $0 each month on gas, so we’re actually saving close to $200 a month on these expenses compared to pre-EV!
Love the savings and also not needing to pop into gas stations and fill up!
Con: long distance trips kinda suck to plan and execute.
Perhaps the biggest “con” of owning an electric vehicle (particularly a Tesla) is that any longer distance trips require more planning to ensure you’re hitting Superchargers along the way, as well as more time added to your trip because you have to wait for your vehicle to charge (which is a much longer process than just filling up gas and going).
Whereas I used to breeze through Red Deer if I was on my way to Calgary or southern Alberta, now it’s a requirement that we add up to an hour in Red Deer to charge before we head on our way.
Now this will hopefully change in the next few years as not only more Tesla Superchargers but general EV chargers and electric vehicle infrastructure is added across Alberta and Canada, but at time of writing this post, to be quite blunt—it can and has been a huge pain to plan a road trip with our electric vehicle.
Edmonton to Calgary is not an issue as there is the Red Deer Superchargers, just the extra hour to factor in. (Note: your stop in Red Deer could just be 20 minutes but I usually hover closer to 45 minutes because I have charge anxiety lol)
Edmonton to the Canmore/Banff area is also not really an issue because there are Superchargers in Canmore. But once you start trying to go past Banff, or south east past Calgary, or forget about going into northern Alberta or east/west really, because it becomes super stressful and time consuming as your charging options become extremely limited.
Our best example of stress and time wasted on a longer haul trip in our Tesla, was during a road trip to Fort McMurray in northern Alberta. There are no Superchargers north of Edmonton so we needed to stop at a Destination Charger in Athabasca.
For context: a Supercharger can get us close to 100% full in about 45 minutes. A Destination Charger is closer to 2 hours+. And if you plug into a regular outlet like you’d find at your home, it takes pretty much over 24 hours to charge. Another thing to note that Superchargers do cost money (but it’s super affordable compared to gas—for instance, maybe $8 to charge up during a stop in Red Deer. Paying for supercharging is less common though as mostly you’d be charging at home!)
For every day commutes, there’s not really an issue. We have a Destination-level Charger installed in our garage, so it takes a few hours to bring our levels back up, but it’s not something you notice when you’re charging at home (easy to charge overnight or in the evening when you get back from whatever you were doing that day). The extra few hours are just VERY noticeable when you’re driving far distances.
I should note that some Tesla drivers are totally comfortable getting to destinations with low % charge left and that is just not us lol. Some Tesla owners drive from Edmonton to Canmore with 1% charge left and that makes me feel PANICKED. lol so everyone is different but I always would rather err on the side of having more charge than less.
So back to the Fort McMurray road trip—not only did stopping at a Destination Charger in Athabasca turn a five-hour trip to Fort McMurray into basically a nine-hour trip, even with that extra time added for charging, you’re *really* cutting it close. We made it to Fort McMurray with just 8% charge left, driving exactly the speed limit (if you go faster you lose charge quicker).
And that’s not factoring in if the ONE electric vehicle spot in Athabasca is already being used. Then you literally need to sit there and wait 1, 2, hopefully not 3 hours for whoever is already charging up to finish, AND THEN add 1-2, hopefully not 3 hours for yourself to charge up too.
This literally happened to us on our way home and I would not wish it on my worst enemy lol. It’s brutal.
Another example: I had looked to see how long it might take to drive the Tesla east to Saskatoon.
In an ICE vehicle, this would take about 5.5 hours—a simple, straight route east and something we could definitely do in one go with maybe just one bathroom / gas break.
But in our EV / Tesla? The trip from Edmonton to Saskatoon would NOT be a simple straight east path.
The recommended route from Tesla’s Trip Planner, going to Saskatoon from Edmonton, is to head south to Red Deer, then to Bassano, then to Medicine Hat, then to Swift Current, SK, then finally to Saskatoon, SK, which is also not home to any Superchargers. The total trip time would be almost 14 hours and then once you’re in Saskatoon, you wouldn’t have any easy place to charge. LOL.
So that would NOT be advised.
It’s worth mentioning again that Tesla does have plans to install more Superchargers across Canada (including some along the Yellowhead going east / west, which is currently sorely lacking), and including one in Saskatoon as of Q4 2021. So the infrastructure IS coming, it’s just not here yet.
In some cases (for instance, work I had to do over the summer), it was just easier to rent ICE vehicles to save on time and convenience rather than for instance turning a 5-hour road trip into a 13-hour one and then stressing about where and how to charge up once I get to the destination.
It is worth noting as well that there are non-Tesla chargers (just regular EV chargers) along different routes that would be considered Supercharger level (Level 3), that technically we could use if we got an adapter but we haven’t done that yet. As I said, it just takes a lot more planning, mapping out your routes and your stops. Plugshare is a popular EV charging map website that can help with that but for instance, on the way to Fort McMurray, there wasn’t a Level 3 (Supercharger level) just the Destination Charger (Level 2), and only the one spot for it (so you may still run into issues of the charger being used if you’re planning other routes).
But overall, definitely the biggest con for electric vehicle ownership pre-mass charging infrastructure is that range anxiety and additional time that must be added to an otherwise straight forward trip. lol
Now the above outlines our main Pro + Con for having an electric vehicle.
The other general EV pro of course is that electric vehicles are better for the environment!
You can find countless sources for why this is, but to summarize, EVs emit less greenhouse gases, air pollutants, carbon emissions in both its production and while it’s on the roads, compared to ICE vehicles.
- Here’s a YouTube video I liked that breaks down pollution related to EV or ICE/gas vehicle production if you’d like to learn more.
So there’s certainly a sustainability and healthier planet aspect to owning an electric vehicle but I won’t lie and say that was a huge driver (ha, driver) to why we wanted an EV (and in particular, a Tesla).
Saving money each month on vehicle-related expenses, in addition to accessing Tesla’s autopilot, self-driving, smart car capabilities and features, was really why we wanted our EV.
Which brings us to things we like and dislike about Ysabella, our Tesla Model Y.
Cool Things About Ysabella, our Tesla Model Y:
- Autopilot! It’s super handy to just let Ysabella do the driving. I won’t say much more than that because I’m not sure what is legal in Canada when it comes to autopilot… LOL but as of writing this post anyway, full self-driving is not yet available in Canada so it still requires you check in every few seconds to show you’re paying attention, and it’s not a perfect system so depending on the route you may also need to take over anyway to handle turns and things like that but for the most part, and on very straight, smooth paths, having Ysabella handle the driving, is super convenient.
- Autobraking! It’s really cool that you don’t really ever need to put your foot on the brake. Anytime you’re stopped at a light, Ysabella auto holds the brake for us.
- Sentry Mode and Camera Views! I love looking at the car cameras and the lines on the screen to reverse into our garage / park. I don’t think this is unique to Tesla but it’s just a nice feature lol. I do love Sentry Mode as well, which gives us piece of mind that it will record if someone accidentally or intentionally damages the vehicle.
- Controlling the vehicle with your phone! Although you do get key cards with your Tesla, most people just connect and use your their phones as the key lock. You can also use the phone to turn on climate, lock/unlock, or other features related to the vehicle. It’s handy because my phone is literally always on me.
- Speed at which it starts and stops! Teslas are known for their fast acceleration speeds, though that’s not necessarily something I use often, I actually like how if you release your foot from the pedal (if you aren’t in Autopilot), its regenerative braking basically kicks in SO fast you’re stopped almost immediately. This is great for avoiding accidents, lol.
- Smart Cruising / safe distance between vehicles! You can set a distance you want to maintain between the Tesla and the vehicle in front of you, and even if you’re on Autopilot or Smart Cruise, the Tesla is smart enough to reduce your speed accordingly, if the vehicle in front is too slow or too close. There’s some nice comfort there.
- The cool dashboard (which is essentially a computer screen!) Tesla’s vehicle dashboard and controls are all on a computer screen in the middle of your vehicle. It’s pretty neat you can watch Netflix or YouTube while parked (good for watching while Supercharging the vehicle). You can also set seat height controls, mirror adjustments, access the Internet, plus music (so mostly the usual. lol) But I do like that it’s clean and all in one spot. I also like that the speedometer is digital (on the computer screen) and the screen also shows silhouettes of cars driving around and in front of you.
- The FRUNK! Because Teslas have no engine, the front of the vehicle is basically extra storage space, also known as a front trunk, also called a FRUNK! We love our frunk and it is always delightful popping it open to put stuff in and having curious glances look to see what the heck is going on. lol. Also the handles to get into the vehicle are slick.
- Low maintenance! Mostly everything that gets done to improve a Tesla is through the computer software system. So it’s super low maintenance and that low maintenance carries forward in the lifetime of the vehicle. We never have to go for an oil change ever again, and if there are any errors with the vehicle (there haven’t been for us so far), it just gets a little digital update lol. In fact, there’s constant software updates with the Tesla, I’d say at least once a week they are updating to improve some type of feature or system and we don’t have to take it in to get that update it just happens in the garage while we sleep.
- Yes you can have a Tesla in our deep freeze winter weather! The Tesla starts up quite normally and quite fine in Alberta’s deep freeze winter temperatures. During our recent Polar Vortex when it got to -40C, I had no issues running Ysabella, she just loses charge quicker so your commute may need to be a little shorter. If you install winter tires as well, there’s really NO driving issues! I’ve always felt super safe in Ysa in the winter, except the first drive in snow conditions this season if your regenerative breaking is on high, it’s almost reacting TOO fast for the snowy conditions, so we slid a bit but once we set it to low, it was smooth.
- There’s a feature called Dog Mode! Related to controlling the vehicle with my phone, is the ability to turn on “Dog Mode” which puts a message on screen letting people know the car temperature and that owners will be back soon! Very handy. And fun to turn on if you leave someone in the vehicle too.
- You’re like, in a cool club? lol. This sort of speaks to the whole Elon Musk pedestal thing. I am not a fangirl for him but I can appreciate that he’s really created this incredible brand with Tesla, one that is sought-after and one that just feels cool to be a part of. Like how motorcyclists will greet each other with a little hand gesture, Tesla owners do a little nod/wave when we’re at Supercharging stations together (lol). There’s a nice community the Tesla Owners Club of Alberta.
- It’s very pretty! On an entirely superficial level, the Tesla is just beautiful. Something people don’t realize it has is an entire glass roof (like your windshield just extends all the way across the top of the car lol). So that’s pretty. It’s sleek looking. The interior is quite nice (leather will do that lol). It’s pretty.
Things We Do NOT Like About Ysabella, our Tesla Model Y:
- Autopilot can be unreliable and a little scary. I particularly dislike how Ysabella doesn’t start to slow down until you’re pretty close to the red light or the car in front of you at a red light. It’s like she barrels forward at top speeds and then BAM stops abruptly. If I’m just driving, I ease off the pedal and start to slow down a fair distance away from the red light just as a general driving habit but in Ysabella, she is so assured that she’s going to be able to stop in time that it feels like she’s going to slam you right into the vehicle in front of you (but she never does lol). But that scary feeling is not great lol.
- Cameras get easily covered. This plays into the reliability of Autopilot as well, but in wintertime, all the snow and dirt means the car camera visibility is often blocked, which then limits the features you can access in the vehicle and also just limits how you can use the camera yourself to see what’s around you (ugh, I have to actually look at the rearview mirrors?! lol)
- The maps system doesn’t really show congestion very well. I’m confused as to how the Tesla system is using Google Maps, and yet doesn’t show or account for congestion or traffic in the same way that I feel like your phone Google Maps does. The design of how they show congestion is also kind of silly because it’s like, the tiniest little red line ever.
- Does the windshield get dirtier? It feels like it. I feel like the big windshield or aerodynamic design seems to attract more bugs (especially on longer drives). I feel like the windshield gets dirtier than our previous SUV windshield. And (exclusively a Tesla Model Y problem), the back windshield is way too tiny.
- No 360-degree camera? I find it unusual that this Tesla does not have 360-degree cameras (when this is an option in other vehicles lol). If you’re going to already deck the vehicle out in cameras (which they do), why wouldn’t you make it all the way around? Related to camera and also dashboard screen, I also wish the vehicle would show more cars BEHIND you, rather than cars in front of you. I can see the cars in front of me, it’s the ones coming up behind that I would like help seeing.
- Worries about getting locked out. Because my phone is my primary key for the Tesla, I have had some instances where for some reason it wasn’t recognizing my phone, and I would get startled wondering if I’d be able to get the car going. lol. And while I don’t worry about Ysabella not starting because it’s too cold outside, I was worried once when it was so cold my phone battery was almost dead, and if it had died fully, I’m not sure I would have been able to get into the vehicle lol. (A good lesson in keeping the extra key card handy in your purse too lol).
- Road trip and charging anxiety. This has been mostly referenced in the above biggest Con of owning an EV / Tesla, but I really do get stressed out if I’m on longer trips in the Tesla, and I think a lot of Tesla owners get to a point where it’s obsessive how much they’re checking their range and efficiency in driving, which is simply not something I considered in an ICE vehicle. It really does limit where you can go unless you’re prepared to add many more hours to your day, or detour out of the way to get to specific chargers. You’re just always thinking about range and charging lol. So for this purpose we still have our old SUV, we just don’t really use her (but it’s a just in case). And we also may opt (and have opted) to rent a vehicle for certain trips instead of using the Tesla. Which isn’t the best but it certainly takes out all the road trip / range / charging anxiety.
Now let’s talk about cost.
I’m going to caveat this by saying I am not a financial expert or advisor OR a car expert in anyway, lol and obviously everyone’s situation is going to be different, so you may look at this and think, wow that is crappy, but from our perspective, we think it’s pretty decent.
Something that surprises a lot of people we talk to about owning a Tesla is the monthly cost—in that, it’s really not that pricy. Many people we’ve talked to tell us they pay *nearly* as much as we are paying each month for their new car payments, and let’s face it, the Tesla is a lot nicer than most other car brands LOL.
You’re also saving money on monthly expenses and long-term maintenance expenses with a Tesla.
So we pay $749 per month for our Tesla on an eight-year term (loan). This monthly cost was calculated after a $20,000 upfront payment. The total cost of our Tesla Model Y was $84,000.
Now there’s some Canadian data that reports on average, current monthly payments on a new vehicle ranges between $490 to $570 per month. So $749 isn’t *too* far off the higher average reported there.
And the more you can pay upfront, the lower your monthly payments will be.
So in conversations we’ve had with a few people, they were surprised at the $749/mo in a good way—because they expected it to be much higher a monthly payment.
I think maybe there’s a mystique about Tesla as a brand that makes people think it’s too expensive or out of the realm of possibility, but lots of people buy brand new cars and I think it’s quite reasonable not to discount Tesla without looking more closely at down payments, loan/lease and monthly rates. It’s not a cheap vehicle for sure, but it’s not so unrealistic, is more the point I’m getting at.
Fully recognizing that $749/month may absolutely be unrealistic for people and everyones situation is unique, but I wanted to be transparent about what we’re paying in case you are considering going down the electric vehicle road, which apparently, more Canadians (70%) are considering these days.
Other details if you’re specifically interested in getting a Tesla in Alberta:
- From order to receiving our Tesla, it took less than a month. I believe this is unusually fast, lol I think 3+ months is a more common wait time.
- It would be ideal to have a garage to own a Tesla but of course that’s not a requirement. This way you avoid the elements, and can also get your Destination-level Charger hooked up. According to posts read in the Tesla Owners Club of Alberta Facebook Group, it seems like a bit more of a headache to plug your Tesla in outside and then there’s the added Alberta complication in winter of having it get piled under with snow, ice and cold.
- You should absolutely get winter tires for your Tesla if you live in Alberta!!
- A note about insurance: we had some people ask whether insuring a Tesla costs more than a regular. vehicle. Well, while most of that will depend on each individual driver history (tickets you get, etc.), we found the cost to ensure the Tesla pretty reasonable ($1,100 insurance premium per year). For context, we were paying MORE than that for our old 2013 SUV (largely due to some previous driving tickets I had lol). So, again, like the cost of the Tesla, the insurance cost is really not wild (if you don’t have a spotty driving record lol).
- I also wanted to clarify that with our Long Range Model Y, for day to day trips we charge it so we have 452 km available. They don’t recommend you charge to 100% unless you’re going on a road trip. If we charged to 100% we would have about 500 km available.
- One of the reasons we specifically wanted an SUV EV was because we wanted a bigger trunk space so our dogs could come on trips with us! Our one dog Artie is quite big (Husky mix, around 60-70 lbs), and fits quite comfortable in the trunk (SUV hatchback) alongside our smaller beagle Olive. So if you’re looking for good trunk space, we can vouch for the Model Y’s. We just bought a separate cover so that the dogs don’t get dog hair all over the trunk, lol.
- As of writing this post (March 2021), there was only one Tesla service centre in Alberta located in Calgary. This is also where you would get to test drive a Tesla before you decide to buy. But there is confirmation that a west Edmonton Tesla centre is slated to open soon (2021 some time) so I imagine that will increase the number of Alberta Tesla owners! We don’t mind driving to Calgary (in fact I love Calgary) lol so if we ever did need to bring it in for servicing beyond the software updates, it’s just a nice excuse to visit Calgary too lol.
- The work and research and guinea pigs (so to speak) have already been done! If you get a Tesla now, you know it works. You know it works in Alberta. You know it can handle Alberta’s winters. There’s enough Alberta Tesla drivers and basic charging infrastructure to make it work for you. Of course everyone’s situations are going to be different (if you drive long distances for work, EVs or a Tesla maybe is not for you lol). But for the most part, we can thank the early adopters and original EV owners in the province for taking the leap. They experimented with it so we can be sure knowing that okay, owning an electric vehicle in Alberta is possible and is actually pretty great.
Finally, I wanted to share that I’ve never cared about any vehicle as much as I care for Ysabella, our Tesla Model Y!
So shiny. So smart. We love her.
So much so that we have been giving her weekly washes, something we’ve never done for any of our previous vehicles! While this blog post is not sponsored, a related partnership worth mentioning here is that this year I started working with Bubbles Car Wash who is helping keep Ysabella so shiny.
If you are so inclined, you can reference my code BUBBLESLINDORK for monthly discounts:
- March 2021: $25 off shampoo package
- April 2021: 10% off detail
- May 2021: $20 off Paint Protection
- June 2021: Membership: $20 off interior clean with the purchase of a new membership
- July 2021: Membership: 1st month is 1/2 price – 2 month minimum
- August 2021: Save $10 off any wash package
- Sept 2021: Back to school: Get $50 off comprehensive detail package
- Oct: Free tire dressing with any wash
- Nov 2021: 10% off detail
- Dec 2021: $5 off a carwash
- Jan 2022: $10 off any wash package
Bubbles is a family-owned operation, started on Whyte Avenue in Edmonton 40+ years ago. Now they have locations across Edmonton, Calgary and Kelowna. If you care about your car, getting it washed and cared for through Bubbles is highly recommended—they do a combination of hand and machine wash and if you’ve never actually been into their lobby, it’s so chic! Also feels like you’re part of a cool club lol.
They are also unique in that they offer an unlimited wash membership! Super handy.
And be sure to mention BUBBLESLINDORK if you go to get specific deals each month this year!
Again: this blog post is not sponsored but my Bubbles partnership made a lot of sense to reference in this post.
So there’s some pros and cons to owning an electric vehicle (/ Tesla Model Y) in Alberta!
The biggest ‘Con’ is really the lack of charging infrastructure, which creates road trip anxiety. Hoping that this gets alleviated down the road with more chargers added in more locations, but also if you’re not ready to dive right into full electric vehicle ownership, than I think exploring a hybrid option would be worthwhile too!
If you have any questions, feel free to comment or send me an email or note on social media, I’m happy to answer any questions based on my personal experience with a Tesla.
The car crowd / car content is not something I typically post about so forgive me if it is not like your typical car review, lol. I like to think I offer a more ‘average’ perspective to Tesla car ownership lol.
- P.S. although this post is not sponsored by Tesla, all Tesla owners have their own unique referral code/links so if you use my referral link you will get 1,500 free Supercharger km on a new Tesla (and we get free Supercharger kms too!) Link: https://ts.la/mike67381
And it occured to me that people who are interested in Teslas and EVs also really like to see photos of them, so I’ve added a few more photos to the bottom of this post here for your viewing pleasure!
Maybe more blog posts about our Model Y / EV driving in Alberta to come.
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