After the 4th of July, I wrote an article asking for people’s insights about their road trips using an EV and charging. Your responses were part hilarity, part unexpected, but for the most part, kinda boring — it seems taking a road trip in an EV just isn’t that challenging anymore.
We got 83 responses to our highly unscientific survey. The average drive was 2,284 miles (median = 1250), and the average number of times people stopped to charge was 13 (median = 7).
Clearly, there were some outliers and people didn’t just write in about their 4th of July weekend road trip. Someone did a 27,000 mile journey, and another did 14,000 miles. Removing those two outliers, the average road trip, though, was still 1,822 miles! Yowza people like to road trip! Good thing we’re electrifying our transport and solarizing our grid!
Here is the breakdown of the EVs driven:
Clearly, Tesla readers dominate our audience, and I don’t think that’s any surprise, given how much free press we have given Tesla over the years as well as the fact that Tesla has dominated US electric car sales for years. Funny aside: the most frequent criticism CleanTechnica got for a while was that people thought we are owned by Tesla, or somehow were too cozy with Elon Musk (before he blew a few gaskets, of course). We have done business with Ford and Volkswagen, but not Tesla.
Challenges charging on an EV road trip
Out of the 83 responses, 63 reported “no problem.”
Think about that — an astounding 76% of pure EV road trips, averaging 2284 miles, reported no problem charging.
Of those who did report trouble, here is a smattering of their commentary:
“at a few stops older chargers had some difficulity connecting to our new Q8 etron. We had to move to another charger or replug a few times to get the charging session going.”
“1) The EA terminals in Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky, where current is paid by the minute seemed throttled. I received a maximum of 140kW, versus 240kW in Florida,where current is paid by the kilowatt-hour. 2) the final leg, from Williamsburg, KY, to Cincinnati would have been less stressful if Georgetown, KY didn’t have 3 of 4 terminals de-rated to 59kW and the fourth one unavailable.”
“Electrify America worked very well; much better than our previous experience. EVCS was problematic. Had to call Chargepoint for help.”
“ZEF is usually good but has spotty quality history. My preferred charger in Motley, MN was not online. No explanation or repair scheduled is communicated. Had to use Leve 2 and limp in to my destination. The ZEF station at my destination charge my Bolt just fine, but it took three tries for the initiation to work properly.”
“Lots of experiences that weren’t expected. I used a couple of apps to find chargers and had some bizarre experiences. From a charger in the middle of the lawn in front of a bank in Mississippi (it didn’t work. Apparently there was a switch in a box nearby) chargers that didn’t work, chargers on the downtown streets of Albuquerque New Mexico that charged at level 1, to a town in Oklahoma that had three different locations (separate companies) and all didn’t work that prompted a 23 mile trip back down the highway with just 29 miles of range left. My best experience was with a private citizen, John, in Huntsville Alabama who let me charge overnight on his home charger. (Thanks again John.) I was happy with my Bolt, it shined through it all. The worst part was that General Motors designed the charging system to charge so slowly. It meant twice as much time charging as other models of EV’s. I knew it was going to be an adventure so I wasn’t disappointed.”
“Electrify America was okay but I ran into like 5 stations that wouldn’t even charge at 50kw much less fast charge better cars. One station wouldn’t give more than 12kw to anyone no matter how few cars were connected. That’s not to mention the fairly common dead chargers. The running joke between EV owners along the way was that the worst part about these chargers is that they are the best that you can get for non Tesla. As the best you can get, my route consisted of EA charger to EA charger the whole way.”
“Waited 70 minutes for a charger.”
“EA failed the first time, which forced me to use EV Range at the same mall in Soledad CA. Most other EA charges went well, except the rate of charge was typically 130-150 kW when I should have seen 200+kW because the second plug on the ‘Balanced Charger’ was unused. The final charge on EA in Salinas CA went great. It was not a ‘Balanced Charger’ and I achieved the expected 237kW. The 200+ charge rate that the EV6 is capable of is a top reason we bought this vehicle. The #1 reason is the V2L capability for powering at home when the grid fails.”
“Only one of four chargers operational at the mall (6 miles out of my way) waited in line for 20 minutes, charged as expected to just over 90%. I tried to charge 2 days later on way back to airport to get charge above 70% to avoid the rental company low battery charge, but was unable to initiate a charge.”
“Almost every EA station had at least on dead charger or derated chargers. Other issues included having to wait for a charger, other technical issues with chargers and a large number of EV owners who did not understand how to use public charging. The FPL charging stations I used were always available, easy to use, never derated and less expensive than EA with my member rate. In the states which charge by the minute, it seemed to take longer to charge.”
“Entire Volta site was down, even though app said it was up and running. Chargepoint was 100% good.”
“ChargePoint chargers in Mount Forest, Ontario were not working when I tried them on my way to Tobermory. Flo charger in Little current shut off at 70% charge and would not charge further in three attempts. This got me back to Owen Sound Subaru 187 kms where I charged enough at my dealership in 2 hours on a Blink Level 2 to get to Oakville 195 Kms. My initial leg was from Oakville at a full charge to Tobermory 320 kms on 75 % charge in rain which I was very pleased with. My car charged to from 25% to 95% in 6.5 hours at the Princess Hotel in Tobermory cost $15.00. There was 135 kms in two days of local driving on Manitoulin Island before I charged at the Little Current post office. Flo charge cost was $1.40 an hour. Total $2.11.”
“I-55 superchargers are relatively sparse, requiring higher charge rates, hotels with chargers sparse. For the first time I had a supercharger destination going down while driving — car re-routed me to a earlier stop requiring a longer charge — I tried resetting to the original charger and car would not take it — I pulled off the highway to figure out what was going on and could tell the supercharger I was heading for was offline — not obvious while driving — had to stop for lunch and charge for 30 min to get to 90 pct ”
“I have had eleven electric car over thirteen years and Hawaii has the worst charging situation of all. Spent hours at the only working Supercharger on Oahu Island. I’ve driver all over the US and it is obvious Hawaii is stuck in the grip of the Oil Industry.”
“I never got more than about 60 kW and typically much less so it was kind of slow”
“Good except, usually only 1 or 2 FLO DC Fast available (either CHAdeMO or CCS split) but still convient Really sparse chargers in Eastern Quebec (Gaspe Penninsula)”
“ChargePoint is unreliable and expensive. Dumb system. More for fast food stores than for EV users.”
“Couldn’t go off interstate to more scenic parts of the states wo a lot of anxiety to charge. Particularly in Michigan where I wanted to on the east or western side of the lake shoreline”
“Electrify America worked well but there were no functional non-Tesla stations along rest stops on the NJ Turnpike, which made our trip much more inconvenient.”
“Mostly not great. Many chargers were down and at no point during the trip did I see a charger reach it’s capacity of 150 or 350. This lead to some lines forming at a few of the stations. The people were all great, but frustrated. The worst was in Brunswick, GA. The highest I could get a charger to go was around 14 kWh. I tried multiple stations. There was a couple next to us in a Mercedes EQS charging at about 7 kwh and had been there for over 90 minutes. Not only did it take forever, but they had a huge bill for it. My worst experiences were in Miami. The trailer I was towing had the license plate stolen and at another station I was in a massive downpour while trying to charge. I ended up having to call while and be on the phone in the rain while they reset the whole bank of stations. Each of these were about 2 hour charging stops. Please get the speed up and fix broken chargers.”
I don’t like paywalls. You don’t like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it! We just don’t like paywalls, and so we’ve decided to ditch ours.
Unfortunately, the media business is still a tough, cut-throat business with tiny margins. It’s a never-ending Olympic challenge to stay above water or even perhaps — gasp — grow. So …