Planning for a Road Trip in an Electric Car
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Planning for a Road Trip in an Electric Car

Planning for a road trip
  • Stay at hotels with electric vehicle charging stations. 
  • Register with EV charging station apps in advance. 
  • Flexibility makes the trip more enjoyable.
  • Bring things to do while you wait at EV charging stations. 

As more American drivers put their trust in EV range, they are considering taking road trips. Despite the growing EV infrastructure, some EV drivers find themselves on edge, as they venture outside of their typical routes. Fortunately, apps like Chargeway and those in your EV have the technology to help you plan your road trip and enjoy the ride. 

Prior Planning for a Road Trip Prevents Problems

I rented an electric car for a four-day road trip and found the experience to be a little stressful. Mostly because our destination – Minneapolis – was rather devoid of DC fast-charging stations. Our round trip began in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and we had no problem with DC fast-charging stations around the Chicago area and throughout rural Wisconsin. But, we couldn’t have had success without prior planning. 

Any road trip with an electric car requires planning, especially if you’re traveling through rural areas. The Chargeway app shows you where the Level 3 DC fast chargers are along your route. The app also tells you about the speed and quality of the charging station. If you don’t see any, then you change your route to accommodate your EVs range. It’s helpful to over-plan by finding several charging stations, in case your first choice isn’t working (we all know it happens). 

Electrify America

Register with EV Charging Apps

If you typically use one charging station brand, it’s a good idea to register with the rest of them before you head out. The odds are good that you’ll encounter a variety of charging stations on your route, and you can save money and time by signing up before you leave. 

For example, EVgo sends customers an RFID car that can save a few minutes when it’s charging time. Electrify America has different membership levels and benefits to help you save money and time at their charging stations. When you register with these apps, add your EV make and model so they recommend the appropriate type of charging station.

Find Accommodations with Charging Stations

When planning your road trip, look for hotels and other accommodations with free charging stations. If you have questions, call the local hotel. They’ll tell you how many stations they have, and many only have one or two. National Parks and many RV parks also have Level 2 charging stations. 

Shopping malls, Walmarts, and some restaurants also have charging stations. You’ll probably have to pay to use these stations which can range from slow Level 2 to ultra-fast DC fast-charging stations. 

When to Charge Your EV

For the benefit of your battery and your anxiety, it’s best to get to a functional charging station when your battery is around 20%. You’ll have a little extra energy if the charging station isn’t working, and you’ll spend less time waiting for your battery to charge. Many automakers recommend that you only charge to 80% or 90%. Those recommendations are designed to help your battery last for many years. 


Check Your Insurance Policy for Roadside Assistance

As EV infrastructure is still a work in progress, EV owners find occasional hiccups along their road trips. If your EV runs out of battery, having roadside assistance can make your road trip a bit less stressful. Some EVs cannot be towed, but instead need a flatbed truck for a ride when the battery depletes. When you call for help, tell the representative that you have an EV, so they’ll know what to bring. 

Be Flexible Along the Way

While many EVs have charging maps built into their infotainment systems, you could have some problems along the way. It’s wise to have alternative plans that include a variety of routes with additional charging stations and be sure to bring things to do along the way. Even the fastest charging stations will tie you up for 30 to 60 minutes, so bring snacks, cards, books, mobile devices, and anything else that will help you kill the waiting time. 

Are Electric Cars Good For Road Trips?

The quick answer is yes, especially as charging infrastructure continues to expand. While you might think you need the best electric car for a road trip, any EV with a range over 240 is doable. If your EV has different driving modes, use the mode that helps you get the most mileage out of your battery. 

The more range you have, the less time you’ll spend waiting. EVs like the Lucid Air or Mercedes-Benz EQS 450+ have outstanding range. Tesla models with long-range batteries are also great choices. 

I took a road trip in a Polestar 2 with a single electric motor and a range of about 240 miles. The EV over-predicted the range I needed, so I always ended up at my next destination with more remaining range than expected. Some EVs do the opposite, so pay attention to what is predicted and what is remaining, then you can plan accordingly. 


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