The open road. The wind in your hair. Your furry friend or loved one riding by your side. Singing along out of key to your favorite tunes. Road-tripping is one of life’s greatest pleasures — and it’s only gotten better with EVs. In honor of National Drive Electric Week (NDEW), we want to celebrate and spread the word about the joys of EV road-tripping.
Read on for some practical tips and tricks from your friends at ChargePoint about how to plan a road trip with an electric car.
1. Plan your route
The ChargePoint app makes planning an EV road trip a breeze. Whether you want to take scenic backroads for slow exploration or major highways for maximum speed, the ChargePoint app has your back. With the app, you can easily discover hundreds of thousands of charging options, whether you’re looking for stations along a major highway, a metro area, a state or even the entire country. Keep an open mind as a longer route may offer more charging options. Don’t forget to use the My EV filter to find stations that work best for you and your EV, and make sure you’ve added or updated your payment method so you’re ready to go if you charge at a station with a fee.
If you’re new to the world of EV charging, read up on the different types of charging stations so you can choose what’s best for you at various stops and stages of your road trip. Last but not least, we recommend researching the sights, activities, restaurants, shops, parks and other attractions along your route so you can turn every charging stop into a chance for joy. Why not eat the best pie in the state or hike to some epic views while your EV charges?
2. Know your car
Planning a long-distance road trip well requires knowing your EV and driving it efficiently. For peace of mind, be aware of what affects your EV’s range. Keep an eye on how much AC or heat (including seat warmers!) you use, and go easy on your accelerator to maximize your range on the road. How you drive can affect range estimates, which aren’t always 100% accurate and vary with terrain. A good rule of thumb is to charge before your EV battery drops below 10-20%. While it’s safe to drive and charge your EV in any weather, pay attention to the forecast, as wintry and sultry temperatures will lower your EV’s range.
Like in any road trip, having a backup plan is common sense. The Level 1 travel charger that came with your car can help you power your EV in a pinch and will give you enough charge to get to a Level 2 or DC fast charger if life throws you a curve ball. Even better, explore your destination’s road rules, as you may be able to skip traffic and take advantage of HOV lanes in certain states with your EV.
3. Sleep and charge
The most convenient time to charge your EV on your road trip happens to be the same as when you’re home. Charging your EV while you’re sleeping is the most convenient way to power up no matter where you lay your head. Luckily, hotels and Airbnbs around the world have joined the EV revolution, so it’s easy to find convenient and affordable places to stay that also support your EV lifestyle. ChargePoint partners with hotels like Oxford Collection to bring robust EV charging infrastructure to their guests. Hotels like Hilton and Marriott or booking websites like expedia.com, hotels.com, Airbnb and Kayak allow travelers to select lodging with EV charging, while websites like Stay-N-Charge enable travelers to search for hotels with EV charging by zip code. Plus, even national parks are getting into the EV charging game. So whether you prefer a hotel room, campsite or rental house, you can make sure your lodging fuels you and your EV for your road adventures.
4. Stay flexible
One of the best parts of road-tripping is spontaneity. You’re in the literal and figurative driver’s seat, and the journey is yours for the taking. See a flea market on the side of the road you can’t miss? Fall in love with a city and want to stay longer? The ChargePoint app has you covered. Using the ChargePoint app with CarPlay or Android Auto while you drive enables you to find a new station on the go as your plans change, see the real-time availability of the station you’re navigating to and plan accordingly. Fill your battery to 80% while using DC fast charging to preserve your battery life and make the most of charging speeds. Use Notify Me to easily find out when a ChargePoint charging spot opens up without having to wait around, or look for roaming partner stations to expand your options.
5. Follow EV etiquette
One of the best parts about being an EV driver is being a part of a global community. Pay it forward and make thoughtful choices on your EV road trip. Here are a few EV etiquette tips to keep in mind:
- Tip #1: Always unplug when you’re done charging your EV. Charging spots are NOT parking spots.
- Tip #2: Don’t block other charging spots so other EV drivers can power up too.
- Tip #3: Leave station tips and photos for other drivers in the ChargePoint app.
- Tip #4: Report any issues to the station owner using the ChargePoint app.
Read more about EV etiquette 101 here.
6. Build the perfect playlist
The most important part of an EV road trip? Having fun and feeling free. Seriously. With the ChargePoint app and other partners in the EV revolution, planning is quick and easy and leaves more time for play and fun. In fact, the joys of a road trip are actually a lot like the joys of an EV lifestyle: the freedom to roam where the road takes you, freedom to roam where the road takes you sustainably. As a company by EV drivers and for EV drivers, road-tripping the EV way is one of our greatest joys at ChargePoint. That’s why we’ve put together a playlist with some of our favorite tunes so you can charge, drive and live better on whatever road you choose.
Ready to head out?
Additional EV road trip FAQs
Can I drive my EV across the country?
Yes! In fact, driving an EV across the country is an increasingly popular way to road trip and see the sights. An EV cross-country road trip is now no different than an ICE road trip as all drivers need to plan their fuel according to the trip length. Get inspired by reading about other EV drivers who’ve road-tripped across the country with an EV. You’ll be in great company.
How far can electric cars go?
Most EVs sold today have average ranges close to 300 miles. Luxury EVs with high ranges include the new Lucid Air Grand Touring, which can go 516 miles, and the Mercedes EQS sedan, which can travel 350 miles. Mid-range EVs like the Kia EV6 can ben driven about 310 miles, while the Ford Mustang Mach-E is rated for 312 miles. Whether you’re buying an EV with a road trip in mind or renting an EV for a family vacation, important things to consider when selecting an EV are size, the number of people in your family or friend group, your preferred features or aesthetic and price range. In general, we recommend looking for an EV with a good combination of range and charging speed. Read more tips here. Regardless of your EV’s range, drive electric with confidence knowing you’re connected to the world’s leading EV charging network with your ChargePoint app.
How long does it take to charge an EV?
How long it takes to charge your EV depends on the charger type and your EV’s capacity. A Level 1 AC charger will add 4 miles of range to your EV battery in 1 hour. A Level 2 AC charger will add 25-50 miles of range per hour. A Level 3 or DC fast charger will add 100+ miles of range to your EV in 30 minutes. Choose the right charger type or station on your road trip according to your needs. A Level 1 charger is great for charging in a pinch, a Level 2 charger is great for charging for a few hours or overnight and a Level 3 charger is great when you’re in a rush (assuming your car is compatible). In general, we recommend fast charging to around 80% most of the time. Charging to 80% will extend the life of your battery and save you time as charging speed tends to decline for the last 20%. If you need the 100% for your next road trip leg, that's fine, but be aware it can take substantially more time when fast charging. Discover more about general charging speeds here.
What should I bring on my EV road trip?
Like any road trip, we recommend bringing lots of delicious snacks and fun activities for the road. These will especially come in handy if you find yourself charging somewhere not near an attraction that appeals to you. We also recommend always bringing the Level 1 charger that came with your EV on a road trip (and even just around town, to be safe). If you own a Tesla, you'll need an adapter to use CCS ports on your road trip. Soon, many EVs will also be able to use Tesla superchargers with an adapter. Read more about these nitty-gritty details here.
What is range anxiety and should I worry about it?
Range anxiety is the fear that an EV will run out of battery before reaching its destination. Experts agree this fear is increasingly one of the past. First, EV ranges increase by leaps and bounds every year. Second, EV charging infrastructure is growing exponentially. Third, an overwhelming majority of EV trips are short distances. But fear is a normal part of change, and the EV revolution is definitely bringing much-needed change, fast. Thinking through your EV’s range and current charge before starting any trip is no different than thinking through an old ICE vehicle’s tank capacity and status. As more and more people switch to EVs, they realize through lived experience they can let go of any range anxiety and charge, drive and live better.
What happens if my EV runs out of battery while driving?
This is very unlikely, as most EVs will notify you repeatedly if your charge is running low, provide info on nearby chargers and slow down protectively if you don’t charge up. In fact, an AAA study determined that EV drivers were much less likely than ICE drivers to run out of charge compared to gas and rarely needed towing. But should the unlikely happen to you on your road trip, rest easy and call AAA or a towing service to either charge your battery or tow your car to the nearest charger. Please remember to never jump an EV with another PHEV, HEV or BEV and always call for assistance. You’ll soon be on your way.