It’s the season of electric vehicle road trips! There’s nothing quite like hitting the open road in an electric car, feeling the wind rush past as you breathe in the freedom of the highway. But while these EV road trips are undoubtedly fun, they require a unique brand of planning. You’ve got to master the art of finding charging stations and strategically scheduling your stops to keep your battery topped up. Let’s break it down.
Are EVs good for road trips?
Absolutely, electric vehicles have come a long way in the past few years and can now cover long distances, making them suitable for road trips. EVs have expanded rapidly, with 14 models offering 300+ miles of range. However, as mentioned in the road trip using the Ford F-150 Lightning that covered 2,888 miles, charging infrastructure and station availability can still pose inconveniences for EV road trippers1.
On Your Marks
Long before you slide into the driver’s seat, there’s the all-important matter of planning. You’ll want to ensure your electric vehicle is up for the task, especially if it’s a longer trip. High on your checklist should be the EV battery’s range. Sure, the Tesla Model S might boast a range of over 370 miles on a full charge, but what if you’re driving a Chevy Bolt with a 259-mile range?
Weigh your vehicle’s range against the distance of your trip, and plot your charging stops accordingly. Remember, fast chargers (like Tesla Superchargers or those from Electrify America) will charge your EV much quicker than a Level 2 charger. However, relying solely on fast charging stations could limit your travel route options. Balancing the use of fast chargers and slower, but more numerous Level 2 chargers can offer a more flexible journey.
Get Set, Route!
A well-planned route can mean the difference between a smooth EV road trip and a nerve-wracking game of “will I make it to the next charging station?” A great rule of thumb is to plan your stops every 100-150 miles. This ensures you have a buffer in case of unexpected detours or heavy traffic.
Luckily, planning your charging stops has never been easier. There are various online tools and apps available, where you just punch in your starting point (say, New York) and destination (like San Diego or Las Vegas), and they’ll map out the best route, complete with all the charging stations along the way.
EV Charging 101
When it comes to EV charging, there’s a whole dictionary of terms to get your head around. First, there’s “fast charging,” usually provided by DC fast chargers at public charging stations. These bad boys can get you up to 80% charge in about 30 minutes. Then there are “destination chargers” found at hotels or attractions that take a bit longer, usually offering a full charge in a few hours.
Regardless of the charger type, an important tip is to avoid charging your EV battery to 100% at fast chargers. It’s faster to charge from 20% to 80% than from 80% to 100% due to how lithium-ion batteries work. Plus, it’s easier on your battery’s longevity.
Roadside Attractions and Charging Stops
While you wait for your electric car to charge, why not take the opportunity to explore? Chances are, you’ll find a host of attractions, eateries, and hidden gems near your charging station. Take a detour to a national park – Joshua Tree National Park, perhaps? Or maybe grab a bite at a local diner. Remember, road trips are about the journey as much as the destination!
Planning for the Best EV Road Trip Experience
So, what’s it like to embark on a long-distance EV road trip? Well, it’s different from the usual fill-up-and-go gas station experience, but it offers its own brand of excitement. EV road trips have become simpler thanks to a variety of EV route planning apps such as PlugShare and A Better Route Planner which offer real-time data on charging networks. iOS users can use EVHotels to find hotels with charging stations and notes on free public chargers, and verified hotel guests can see reviews of other hotel guests.
This aids drivers in route planning and finding compatible charging stations along their trip, improving their road trip experience2. However, the infrequency and reliability of charging stations, as well as the slow permitting and construction process of new charging points, still make EV road trips a challenge.
There’s a sense of camaraderie among EV drivers at charging stations as well. You’ll swap stories, share tips, and before you know it, you’ve made a new friend. The charging stop becomes an integral, enjoyable part of the road trip experience, rather than a tedious necessity. Of course, there’s also the undeniable thrill of driving an electric car. The acceleration is swift and silent. Plus, the cargo space in many electric vehicles, like the Tesla Model Y, is generous, accommodating all the road trip essentials and more.
Does Google Maps have EV route planning?
Yes, Google Maps has several features to support electric vehicle drivers. It allows for energy-efficient route planning and shows the estimated battery level upon arrival.3 It also prompts for charging stations along the route, includes charging time in the trip duration, and users can search for compatible charging stations. Google Maps also provides a “very fast charging” filter and improved EV charging stop suggestions. It even allows users to select their car’s engine type, optimizing eco-friendly routes and providing more accurate fuel or energy efficiency estimates.
What EV has the longest range and would be the best for a long distance EV road trip?
The Lucid Air luxury sedan, as of 2023, holds the record for the longest range among battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) in the market, with an EPA-estimated range of 516 miles4 This significant range is offered by the Grand Touring model, which also offers powerful motor options and luxury features.
Apart from its exceptional range, the Lucid Air stands out in the electric vehicle market for its advanced infotainment and safety features. The Air also boasts facial recognition, a premium audio system, self-driving capabilities, and a spacious interior furnished with high-quality materials5. Moreover, its advanced engineering and design focusing on aerodynamics position Lucid as a leader in the EV market.
The Road Ahead
With the environment in mind, it’s hard to ignore the benefits of electric vehicles. You’re reducing your carbon footprint significantly compared to a traditional gas-powered road trip. This is an adventure that lets you enjoy the open road while knowing you’re doing your part for the planet.
As the infrastructure for electric vehicles continues to improve, with more fast charging stations sprouting up, EV road trips are becoming increasingly convenient. Yes, there’s a bit of planning required, but isn’t that part of the road trip charm?
With your route plotted, EV battery checked, and an array of charging stations at your disposal, you’re ready to hit the road. It’s time to embrace the future of road tripping, and there’s no better way to do it than behind the wheel of an electric vehicle.
- Ferris, D. (2023) 8 things we learned on an EV road trip, POLITICO. Available at: https://www.politico.com/news/2023/04/12/electric-vehicle-road-trip-takeaways-00085508 (Accessed:29 July 2023).
- Williams, S. (2023) How to plan a road trip with an EV, Lifewire. Available at: https://www.lifewire.com/plan-a-road-trip-with-an-ev-5201740 (Accessed: 29 July 2023).
- (No date) Google Maps help. Available at: https://support.google.com/maps/answer/9773205?hl=en (Accessed: 29 July 2023).
- Stafford, E. and Dorian, D. (2023) 2023 Lucid Air Review, pricing, and Specs, Car and Driver. Available at: https://www.caranddriver.com/lucid-motors/air (Accessed: 30 July 2023).
- Ryan, C. (7AD) 2023 lucid air price, reviews, Pictures & More | Kelley Blue Book, kbb.com. Available at: https://www.kbb.com/lucid/air/ (Accessed: 30 July 2023).