Written by Vincent and Maggie Argiro
Our Tesla journey began like so many others, years ago, when the Roadster was not yet in production. For all of us, the car was more a dream than a fully tangible reality. Our Tesla dream was deferred further when we decided to move from the U.S. Midwest to Western Canada.
When we moved, Tesla had not yet come north or opened the store in Seattle. We reluctantly canceled our first order and sat on the sidelines, hoping. Last March, when Tesla announced it was coming to Canada, we jumped for joy and headed right to our bank to get our deposit in.
Fast-forward fourteen months, while the bureaucratic gears ground forward in Ottawa.
Finally, we got word that our car was being built and Tesla sent us pictures of it in Menlo Park. After some hand-wringing days for both Tesla and us, we heard that US Customs was ready to allow our car and two others to glide past the Peace Arch at the border and into beautiful British Columbia.
Doing a dealer-less delivery in BC is tricky, because you cannot insure the car until it is registered, and cannot register it until it is physically present. So... we found a location where we could do both and asked the truck to meet us across the street in what we remembered was a large and always empty parking lot.
When we arrived, we found that the parking lot was actually the scene of a traveling carnival going up for the weekend. How appropriate! Fortunately, there was room for the truck, which arrived a bit delayed due to a late ferry from the mainland. As soon as the truck rolled to a stop, Maggie and I and the insurance guy ran over to greet it. We were immediately joined by about thirty carnival workers, just as curious as us to see what came out of that truck! So we got a rapid ramp-up on our Tesla marketing/education skills, fielding rapid-fire questions and posing for cell-phone pictures!
The BC insurance folks required the insurance to be in place before the car touched BC pavement! Their guy had to climb aboard the truck and verify the VIN - our car was on the upper deck, so it was not trivial task. But he was just as excited as us, knowing a lot about the car from the internet. He scampered right up the ladder and emerged a few minutes later with a big grin and a thumbs-up.
After a flurry of paperwork, signatures, and one very large check for the provincial sales tax (NO electric credit here-- count your blessings south of the border!), we climbed into our precious Brilliant Yellow gem, headed back to the ferry and on to our island home. Driving the car through silent, fragrant forests in gold, evening light was truly that long-held dream come true.
We topped up the charge in range-mode overnight. The next morning we headed out for Tofino, about a 270 km (167 mi) trip, most of it winding mountain roads. It's a drive not for the faint-of-heart with a brand new Roadster, but we were determined! That weekend was our 18th wedding anniversary, and this drive was the gift we wanted so much to give each other.
The inaugural trip from our home on Salt Spring Island to the famed Wikinninish Inn in Tofino, was a fantastic and nearly perfect intro to Tesla ownership. The driving was both thrilling and more relaxing than we had experienced with other sports cars we have owned. Breathing totally clean air around us was so refreshing and made it that much more shocking when we re-entered the filthy exhaust stream of a petro-burner ahead of us! The 2010 Roadster feels solid, quite refined, and ran flawlessly.
As is always the case with the car, we gave dozens of impromptu marketing pitches about the Roadster and its amazing virtues wherever we paused -- on board the ferries, at rest stops, lunch stops, and at the Inn. Canadians are generally open and friendly, and almost everyone was really enraptured, curious and excited. About half of the people we met already knew about the car and were overjoyed to finally see one in person (a credit to Tesla's marketing and PR). Lots of folks were also really excited about the coming Model S.
At the Wikinninish Inn (Conde Nast Traveler ranked as the Most Romantic Hideaway in North America, March 2010), we started our recharge on the conveniently located, but only 120V 15A, circuit the concierge had reserved for us. We had planned for this possibility and were content to stay within walking distance of the car for the 40 hours it would take to charge for the trip home. However, after the first 18 hours or so, we ended up getting a 220V 50A circuit patched in by Dave, a maintenance man, on his own initiative.
That convenient upgrade gave us freedom to have some fun with the car while there, and we mainly used the extra charge to give jaw-dropping rides to a number of the employees: the chief concierge Jason, the wine steward Ike, the cafe barrista Julia, two valets Andrew and Wes, and of course, the heroic Dave. We left indelible grins and a morale boost at The Inn - confirmed by Managing Director Charles McDiarmid in an email to us after our return home. We missed giving Mr. McDiarmid a ride because he was tied up as an extra in a movie shoot with Steve Martin and Owen Wilson. Charles was really excited about our visit and has committed to putting in at least two 14-50 outlets within the next couple of months.
We are now looking forward to working this same magic at premier hotels in Whistler and perhaps at resorts here in the Canadian Southern Gulf Islands, clearing a path for more Tesla visits from many of you in Vancouver, Seattle and beyond.
The return trip was just as enjoyable as the trip out. Upon returning home, we plugged in the Roadster for the night. We have a dedicated digital monitor on our charging circuit and it told me that the empty-to-full 55kWh charge for the return trip cost $3.43 CDN from our utility, BC Hydro (70% renewably generated)! That compares to about $40 in gasoline at BC prices (appropriately carbon taxed). The economic argument for electric cars is really easy to make in Canada. Many people we talk to immediately make that connection.
It has been a long and winding road, but in the end, absolutely worth it. We both really love how enjoyable the Tesla is as a social phenomenon. It is both a personal and collective statement of optimism for a better future, as well as fun and actually practical transportation.
P.S. For Sale - Ferrari 360 Modena, excellent condition, but a bit obsolete.