Learnings from an EV road trip

california ev road trip

When most people get a new car, they probably spend a few weeks or months driving it locally before doing a big road trip. Not me, I decided that a trip to California was exactly what was needed to get a handle on what my new fully electric car can do. After 6000km over 3 weeks, I have learned a lot… and am still learning.

Here are some of my main observations:

  1. A EV’s range is much better in slower, stop-and-go traffic. Interstate driving used more battery power than I was expecting.
  2. Going up hills reduces your range and going down will give some of it back.
  3. A stack of 5 surfboards on the roof probably doesn’t help that range.
  4. When trying to cover long distances in a short time, there’s a lot of planning. Each time I charged; I spent 10 minutes looking at the map to plan option A & B for the next charge.
  5. Range anxiety wasn’t really a thing (although getting down to only 4% caused a little stress), but wait anxiety was real. Although the charging may only take 30 minutes, there was often waiting for a charger to come available.
  6. Using fast chargers was more expensive than I was expecting. And transactions in USD didn’t help.
  7. Driving in EV is new to a lot of people. I had many conversations with other drivers about our shared experiences.
  8. Previous trips with a truck and camper used approximately 900L of fuel. I feel good about this trip that was comparatively much lower emissions.

Overall, it was a great experience. My usual pattern of driving big days through Washington, Oregon and Northern California was slower than past trips, but I was still surfing in Santa Cruz in 2.5 days. Once in Central and Southern California and driving shorter distances and charging become a less frequent need. Lunches often happed while charging - the camp table came out and a sandwich was made. Lunching in a Walmart parking lot isn’t idyllic but is good multitasking and better than eating at the fast-food restaurants that were often close by.

The electric car will be ideal for 90% of the driving I do, and I would no doubt take it on another long trip if I have time available, but current battery range and infrastructure isn’t perfect for all longer and remote trips.

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