Road-tripping an EV, challenging, but getting easier

Though high gas prices may make roadtripping in an EV appealing, fast-charging stations can still be difficult to come by.
Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images


Post Author: Meghan McCarty Carino
Original Post: Roadtripping in an electric vehicle has its challenges, but is getting easier
Podcast Author: Marketplace Morning Report – Daily News Podcast

About 35 million Americans took to the road this weekend, according to estimates from AAA. With gas prices at an all-time high for the holiday weekend, the prospect of going electric has never been more attractive. 

Road tripping in an electric car has its challenges, but it’s becoming more doable.

Michael Stern had a plan when he drove his Kia Niro EV from the DC area to visit family in New Jersey for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“The only place to charge up with a fast charger is at the Christiana Mall in Delaware,” he said.

So, Stern would grab lunch there and recharge for about 40 minutes. But, when he arrived, “there was someone parked in the fast charger spot that wasn’t an electric vehicle.

Making more, longer stops at slow chargers added three hours to what is usually a four-hour trip. But generally the road trip experience for EV drivers is improving, according to Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst at Guidehouse Insights.

“Hotels are installing destination chargers, the charging networks are expanding,” said Abuelsamid.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill put $5 billion into building chargers along busy interstates. And Tesla, which has the most extensive network, is trying out systems that’ll open its chargers to other cars.

Green Car Geeks Take

Yes, there is no question that roadtripping in an EV will add time to the trip.

Yes, things are improving on both the availability of fast charging stations, vehicles in the market that can charge at higher rates of speed, and the general public’s understanding the purpose of parking lot charging stations.

But the recent death of my father had me making countless runs to my father’s house. That was a 240+ mile round trip. Some were taken in a VW e-Golf. Many were taken in an Audi e-tron. Each offered a different experience due to their driving ranges and speed at which they could ingest power from a DC fast charger. The VW would require a forty minute stop on the way, while the
e-tron was able to go the one way distance, only requiring a top-off on arrival, or the next morning, depending how productive I was feeling, what time I arrived, or if the trip required more stops before reaching my final destination.

Consider this… it was only six months ago that I was planning a cross country trip from Los Angeles to New York. For help I turned to A Better Route Planner, an app for planning out charging stops (it offers navigation as well) along a route. I was discouraged to learn that a plan routing through the South Wes, between Arizona and New Mexico, was impassable because no DC fast charging infrastructure existed between two points along the route. A short three months later and this is no longer the case thanks to new chargers installed by Electrify America.

Yes, I live on the West coast. I am fully aware that we have an abundance of DC charging stations with more being installed on a daily basis. I am also aware that such is not the case for rural communities and stretches of middle America.

Yes, EV roadtripping has some downsides – now. But this is a temporary thing. Time will improve the cars, the infrastructure and the general public’s awareness of what those large white boxes with TV screens on them are for.