Tales of an Electric Car Road Trip and Supercharging strategy

I digitally removed a score of instagrammers trampling these lovely flowers.

This month we took an electric car road trip in the California desert to see the flowers. The idea of a road trip in the desert with an electric car would have been crazy not too long ago. Now it's becoming possible, soon it will be easy, but there's still lots to learn.

Read An Electric Car Road Trip and how to Supercharge


Very good and interesting description, but Robot Cars are not so far away,right?. Most of the people will have the opportunity to use a RC, before to own an electric Human Driving Car.
So better to think how and where to install parking-charging places for RC, near, but independent of hotels, malls, restaurants and so on. You can do a 1 hour or less walking and enjoying around the flowers, waterfall, glaciar..., in the meantime RC charge .Then you choose where and how long you want to eat, sleep... independent if there are charging points.

So if we organize the things properly, in 10 years ( 2021 to 2030), we can have ALL the world with only RC. I do not need to tell you about the advantages of that situation.

I enjoyed your article. We have had our Model S for more than 3 years and have traveled along the east coast where it is relatively easy to charge, but recognize the issues you noted.
Many years ago, I was an "early adopter" of a different technology -- Diesel cars. (In those days, Diesel was seen as "green" because it used less energy and polluted less, or so we thought.) In the 1960s when I got my first one, a used Mercedes Diesel 190D sedan, hardly anyone in the US knew what a Mercedes was, let alone a Diesel car. Finding Diesel fuel for the car was not much easier then than finding juice for an EV is today. For one thing, there was no internet, no smart phones, no navigation systems. Mercedes put a printed book in the glove box of new cars, with a listing of all the Diesel stations in the US and Canada. When we took a long cross-country trip in the summer of 1971, we had a box full of Diesel directories from every oil company we could think of -- Shell, Gulf, Texaco, Phillips, you name it. And we consulted them constantly as we crossed the US. Occasionally the directories failed us and we had to rely on asking around. In Kansas we bought tractor fuel from a farm supply dealer, for 17 cents/gallon, no taxes! And at the Grand Canyon, we begged the bus operator to sell us a few measly gallons of his #1 Diesel so we could get back to "civilization." We never ran out, but came uncomfortably close more than once.
So now, having survived the early years of Diesel, I try to see EV charging as another adventure, one that is easier with all the information resources we have. And I don't need to carry a smelly, dirty spare container of Diesel fuel in my trunk, as I did for many years, as a hedge against running out.

I have just completed a 4,000km road trip in a Model 3.

Overall, one of the better trips taken. That you are "forced" to stop every two hours to recharge the car -- and yourself -- means you are better rested throughout the driving day. I will not miss the zombie that is the result of an end-of-day 4-5 hour death-march drive.

That said, there are some issues:

1. Stopping at Yet Another shopping mall, restaurant, supermarket, etc, gets old very fast. Maybe I am weird, but I do not need to shop or eat five times a day. The next wave of superchargers should be installed away from built up areas, in parks or other quiet areas, where you can walk around, watch birds, or whatever.

2. There is a woeful lack of overnight/"destination" chargers. Slow charging overnight is better for the car and the driving schedule. If you can't find one, make sure you charge the car before bed -- charging a cold battery in the morning will not be as fast as a warm battery at night.

3. The car navigation system has a very poor model of the battery, tending to under estimate charge times and overestimate range. I frequently had to pick the next supercharger by hand rather than let the car pick one automatically. An important thing here is that a given solution -- the route and charge estimates -- is based on the current state of the battery. As you charge it, you should refresh the navigation; the car does not do this automatically.

Yes, all electric cars overestimate range. One legitimate reason for this is that on long trips, you tend to spend a lot of it at 130km/hour on the highway, and you use a lot more energy per mile doing this than the average it calculates from.

A smart range estimator would look at your planned route in the navigator, estimate your speed on those roads from data and from your habits, and get a correct answer. The site abetterrouteplanner tries to do some of that, I think, but still needs work.

Yes, in the part one article, I lament the places Tesla puts the superchargers. They obviously went in a place they could get the land cheap or free, not in the place that would be most interesting to spend some time.

Good real-life articles. There's a lot of exaggeration out there, in both directions.

One minor point, newer generation EVs do not taper so aggressively. Audi's e-tron can run 150 kW up to 78% and the upcoming Porsche Taycan should do even better:

With the Taycan, I would want to ask about "can" vs. "should." At present, high current charging generates heat which degrades batteries and risks dendrites. So the big question is, if you charge your Porsche at 150kw up to 78%, are you doing any extra harm to it?

There are new battery technologies and charging methods which are working on fixing this, but it's the situation for now.

These problems will pretty much go away once summon works. Even just the ability to automatically move the car out of the way when done charging would allow you to charge wherever charging is available and take an Uber to the restaurant you want to eat at (not cheap, but not ridiculously pricey either).

Is there no way to set your car to charge more slowly when at a supercharger? If so you could set the car to charge at a rate that takes about an hour and a half and then take an Uber to your restaurant of choice. Again, not cheap, but vacations usually involve some extra expenses, and it shouldn't be more than $20 or so for the round trip Uber. Not ideal if you take a *lot* of road trips. But if you do that, if cost is a huge factor, and if you don't want to make compromises, you might be better off with a plug-in hybrid than with an EC.

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