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Can You Take a Road Trip in an Electric Car?

Can You Take a Road Trip in an Electric Car?

Remember those nostalgic cross-country road trips, cruising down highways with the wind in your hair, fueled by nothing but adventure and gasoline? With electric vehicles (EVs) slowly taking over the roads, you might have this lingering question in mind: can they measure up? Just how long can an EV take you?

Is an Electric Car Suitable for Long-Distance Travel?


One of the big worries for people thinking about getting an electric car is whether they can take them on long journeys. After all, nobody wants to be stuck in the middle of nowhere with a dead battery.

Range anxiety, or the fear of running out of battery power before reaching a destination, has been a significant hurdle for potential EV owners. The good news is that electric cars have made big improvements in this department. While still not comparable to traditional gasoline-powered cars, they've come a long way, and many of them can travel extended distances on a single charge.

For instance, cars like the Tesla Model 3, Chevrolet Bolt EV, and Hyundai Kona Electric can travel over 300 miles before needing a recharge. These are no longer just city cars; they are road trip-worthy machines. And if 300 miles of range doesn't seem enough, powerhouses like the Lucid Air and Tesla Model S breach the 400-mile mark effortlessly.

Additionally, the EV charging infrastructure has been growing too. While still not as common as gas stations, more and more EV charging stations are popping up, especially along popular travel routes, making it easier than ever to keep your electric car powered up during your adventures.

How to Make the Most of Your Electric Vehicle Road Trip

So, you've decided to hit the road with your EV. Now, let's dive into how you can make the most of your journey.

Maximizing the Range of Your Electric Car

The Chevrolet Bolt can go about 259 miles on a full charge, which is pretty good in the affordable electric car category. If you're willing to spend more on a newer Tesla Model S, you can get an even better electric car range of up to 400 miles. But remember, these are just estimates, and how and where you drive can change things. When it comes to the longest-range electric car, Tesla's Model S is often considered a top contender in the market.

Since everything in an electric car runs on the battery, using it wisely can help you go further. To ensure your EV takes you as far as possible, consider these range-extending tips:

  1. Climate Control: Limit the use of the heater or air conditioner whenever possible. These systems draw power from the battery, impacting your range. Consider using them sparingly to conserve energy.

  2. Smooth Acceleration: Gentle acceleration and avoiding rapid starts can help reduce power consumption. Gradual acceleration allows your electric car to use energy more efficiently, ultimately extending your range.

  3. Regenerative Braking: Utilize regenerative braking to slow down. This feature helps recover energy during braking, converting it back into electricity to recharge the car's battery.

  4. Travel Light: Just like any other vehicle, carrying unnecessary weight can decrease efficiency. Travel light to help your EV go the extra mile.

Using Apps and Mileage Planning

When it comes to electric car road trips, having the right tools at your fingertips can make all the difference. Here's how you can use apps and plan your mileage effectively:

  1. Charging Station Apps: There's an array of user-friendly apps designed to help you find public EV chargers. Consider downloading popular options like PlugShare, ChargeHub, or Open Charge Map. These apps provide real-time information on nearby charging points, making it a breeze to plan your stops. To discover the best EV charging apps for your specific needs, you can explore reviews and features to find the perfect one to keep you charged up on the road.

  2. Google Maps: If you're already familiar with Google Maps, you're in luck. It's a versatile tool that can also assist in locating the ideal charging station. Simply search for the type of charging station you need, and it will display options in your vicinity.

  3. EV Route Planners: Consider using dedicated EV route planners like A Better Routeplanner (ABRP) or EV Trip Planner. These platforms are specifically designed to help you plan your electric road trip, taking into account your vehicle's range, charging options, and waypoints. If you're driving a Tesla, you have access to the Tesla Trip Planner. This tool is designed to help Tesla owners map out routes that include Supercharger stations strategically positioned along the way.

When you use these apps and route planners, remember that how you drive and the weather can affect how far your EV can go. So, when you're figuring out your route and how far you'll go each day, think about these things.

One important tip is to find charging stations before you really need them. Look for them near the places where you'll stop during your trip. Don't wait until your EV is almost out of power as that will make your trip more stressful. These apps and route planners can help you plan your trip well, so you can enjoy a smooth and fun electric vehicle adventure with confidence.

Planning Charging Stops and Breaks

Making smart choices about when and where to charge can make all the difference. Here's how you can plan your charging stops and breaks effectively:

  1. Choose the Right Route: Pick a route with enough charging stations along the way. This way, you won't have to worry about running low on power before you reach the next station.

  2. Know Charging Times: Find out how long each charging stop will take. This helps you plan activities or meals during those breaks, so you can make the most of your time. DC fast chargers, for example, can take your charge from 0% to 80% in less than an hour.

  3. Have a Backup Plan: Always have an alternate charging station in mind. Sometimes your first choice might be busy or out of order, so having a backup ensures you won't be left without a charging option.

By considering these tips, you can ensure your charging stops are well-planned and efficient, making for a smoother and more enjoyable electric vehicle road trip. Happy travels!

Joining Electric Vehicle Charging Memberships

Consider becoming a member of charging networks to enhance your EV road trip experience:

  1. Access to Networks: Membership programs often grant you access to extensive charging networks. This means you're less likely to worry about finding a charging station during your journey.

  2. Discounted Rates: Many memberships offer lower charging costs as one of their perks. This can make your road trip more cost-effective in the long run.

  3. Convenient Payments: Some memberships provide easy and convenient payment methods. This streamlines the charging process during your trip, so you don't have to fumble with various payment options.

Types of Charging Stations for Your Electric Road Trip

Image courtesy of Charged EVs

  1. DC Fast Charger: Whenever possible, opt for DC fast chargers. These stations will come in handy on road trips, as they can boost your battery to around 80 percent capacity in just 30 to 60 minutes. This means you can quickly get back on the road and continue your journey with minimal downtime.

  2. Level 2 Charger: Level 2 chargers are commonly found in public and commercial areas, as well as in more remote locations. They use 240 volts and are suitable for top-up charging during extended stops or overnight charging at hotels. However, they can be a bit slow when you're eager to get back on the road.

  3. Level 1 Charger: This is the slowest form of charging. A full charge can take up to 24 hours or even longer. A Level 1 charger uses a standard home outlet and is best done in your own garage when you're not using the vehicle. They are portable and can be stored in your trunk as a last resort in case of emergencies.

  4. Tesla Superchargers: Tesla's proprietary charging network, known as Superchargers, is spread across the country. These chargers can add up to 200 miles of range in approximately 15 minutes, making them incredibly fast and convenient. Tesla owners can locate these chargers using the car's internal navigation system.

FAQs

  • Can you go on a long road trip with an electric car?

    Yes, you can go on a long road trip with an electric car. With proper planning and access to charging infrastructure, EVs are increasingly capable of covering extended distances.

  • What happens if my electric car runs out of power on the road?

    If your electric car runs out of power, it will come to a stop. However, this scenario is avoidable with careful route planning and regular charging stops at available stations.

  • Can you charge an electric car while driving?

    Currently, electric cars cannot be charged while driving. Charging is typically done when the vehicle is parked and connected to a charging point.

  • What electric car is best for road trips?

    Electric cars with longer ranges are ideal for road trips. Models like the Tesla Model S, Chevrolet Bolt EV, and Hyundai Kona Electric offer ample range, making them suitable choices for extended journeys.

  • What is the longest trip in an electric car?

    According to Guinness, the longest trip on an electric car covered an impressive 35,770.0385 miles achieved by Rainer Zietlow (Germany) and Derek Collins (US) on October 18, 2021. The road trip took 97 days, starting from Volkswagen's headquarters in Virginia to more than 600 dealerships across 49 states. The duo drove the Volkswagen ID.4, which has an EPA estimated range of 209 miles.

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