How to Manage Long Distance Travel With an Electric Car

Manage Long Distance Travel With an Electric Car

The electric vehicle is a wave of the future that is already cresting on the horizon, and it’s reaching the shore sooner than we may think. General Motors plans to only produce EVs by 2035, all Fords sold in Europe will be electric by 2030, and 70 percent of all VWs sales will be EVs by 2030. The United States has a target goal of half of all vehicles electric by 2030. 

You’re already aware of the many benefits of electric vehicles from huge gas savings to a  lower carbon footprint. Commuting to work and getting around the city is already convenient in most places, but until the infrastructure catches up with adequate charging stations, long-haul road trips will be a challenge. The key to a stress-free trip is careful EV charging planning before hitting the road. Here’s how to get the most out of a road trip in your electric vehicle. 

Know the Different Kinds of Charging Stations

With an electric vehicle, you’re trading the gas pump for charging stations. Rather than regular, hi-octane, and diesel fuel, get used to Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 DC fast chargers, and (Tesla) Supercharging. The higher the level, the faster the process. The vehicle determines how much power it will accept, so there’s no need to worry about plugging into more power that your EV can handle.  

Level 1, the lowest charge can be done at home since it only requires a typical 120-volt household outlet and an adapter for your car.  It’s the slowest charge and adds 3 to 5 miles of range per hour. A full charge takes at least 24 hours. 

Level 2 uses a 208-volt to a 240-volt outlet, the same as your air conditioner or clothes dryer. This is the most common level and the one used at shopping centers, hotels, and train stations. Depending on the power output and your vehicle’s maximum charging rate, the charge can be replenished between 12 and 80 miles of range per hour. 

Level 3 or DC fast charging can get your battery to 80 percent in 30-60 minutes. Use this level whenever possible for road trips.

Fastest of all is the Tesla Supercharger giving you a 200-mile range in just 15 minutes. Currently, you must drive a Tesla to use Supercharge. 

Drive to Maximize Your Range

Range refers to the number of miles your EV can go before needing a charge. It varies among vehicles and is increasing as battery technology and overall EV efficiency improves. Most 2020 models exceed 250 miles. The Tesla S Model offers the highest with a range of up to 387 miles. 

Keep in mind that ranges are estimates and are affected by factors such as climate, driving style, and the use of heaters and air conditioners. Rapid acceleration is one of the joys of driving an EV, but you will get more range if you set your vehicle to economy mode. Whenever possible, avoid using the heater or air conditioner. 

Use Technology to Map Out Your Mileage

Fortunately, there are plenty of great apps available to locate public charging stations. Don’t begin your road trip without downloading one. Apps to look for include ChargeHub, PlugShare, EV Navigation, and The Tesla Trip Planner (for Teslas.) They often come with other features such as pinpointing amenities. Create an itinerary before you leave home and plot out chargers along your route. 

Plan Charging Around Stops

Keep in mind that, unlike a gas-powered vehicle, you can’t fill up and be back on the road within minutes. Nevertheless, if you can find a DC fast charger along the way, charging your battery up to 80 percent will take less than an hour, just enough time for a quick meal or a long coffee break. Be sure to charge up fully before you leave home with your own EV Chargers, so you can know exactly when your charge will be depleting and where you can stop off to top back up again.

Look for charging stations around stops along your planned itinerary. Although you probably won’t find one at a fishing lake or hiking trailhead, you can find charging stations near parks, museums, restaurants, and grocery stores. You may even discover places and things to do you otherwise wouldn’t have been aware of.  And many hotels have free charging stations, so plan your overnight accommodations at one of them.  

Begin With Urban Adventures

Until the infrastructure for EV’s and driving range for these vehicles improve, it’s best to stick to trips around urban areas. That’s because it’s much more difficult to find faster chargers in small towns and rural areas. Remember that it can take up to 8 hours for a full charge at a Level 2 charger. And in some places, you may find all the chargers are in use by other drivers. Never drive straight to an area where there is only one charger. There could be a chance that it isn’t working or can’t communicate with your vehicle. 

The bottom line for managing long-distance driving in an EV is planning, planning, and planning. Plan your route along charge points and juice up before you need to. 

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