Tips for Road Trips in Your Electric Car
By Kimberly Graf. Published on October 5, 2018
Many people purchase electric cars to help the environment. Most electric cars produce no emissions, saving the world some serious fossil fuel resources. By forgoing the internal combustion engine that fuel-burning vehicles use, they don't have nearly as many mechanical problems as 'normal' cars. It's true that electric cars have a lot of benefits – but how do you go on a road trip in a car that needs to be constantly charged? Here are some tips and tricks for going on longer rides with electric cars.
Don't plan on getting anywhere fast. You're going to have to stop and charge your car; it's just a fact. Make sure that you plan ahead for how long you need to charge your car for each leg of the journey. Counting these times into your itinerary will save you a lot of stress and trouble in the end.
Your electric car has a suggested range on it that tells you how long the battery will last. Use this to your advantage, but note that using accessories and devices will cut into that time. If you manage your resources wisely, you'll be able to get farther. Higher speeds will also eat up more battery power, so take that into account. If you have the air conditioner or radio on, you will need to stop more often than if you didn't.
Planning is key! There are many places online such as the Alternative Fuels Data Center that will tell you where charging stations are and what type of charging stations are available. You need to plan a route that has plenty of electric charging stations – there's no way around it. Give yourself plenty of time to take the trip on a road that has plenty of opportunities to charge.
There are a few things you can do to increase your range in an electric car. There are several alternative modes available to electric cars, and utilizing these will help you conserve range. There is usually an eco-friendly mode that will reduce motor output but increase the distance you can go. These modes affect how the car drives, and some put a cap on your speed, but you will be able to get to the next charging station at least.
Charge often! Every time you have the chance to stop at a charging station, stop for as long as it takes to get back to a full charge. Sometimes this will make a day trip into an overnight trip, but there's no way around it if your car is 100% electric. Plus, this gives you some extra time to explore your surroundings. It's forcing you to take time out of the car. That's a pretty nice feature.
Another tip? Stop slowly instead of slamming on the brakes. When you're accelerating out of a stop, do so slowly instead of 'flooring' it. Putting the pedal to the floor will use too much energy and you'll end up having to charge again before you would like. Remember: slower speeds use less energy. The slower you can get to a top speed, the more longevity you're going to get out of your battery.
Don't carry too much stuff. The more weight your car is carrying, the more charge you'll have to use. If you're going on a weekend camping trip, for instance, it's probably better to use your gasoline-powered car unless you're going a short distance to a campsite. You wouldn't want to get stuck at a campsite with no battery charge.
In some places, electric vehicles are allowed to use the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes no matter how many people are in the car. This allows lower emission vehicles to travel much more efficiently on a battery charge by going slower and not blocking traffic. You'll have to check with the places you're going to see if this is an exemption they make or not.
Lastly, use all of your resources. The Alternative Fuels Data Center is your best friend when it comes to planning a long trip with an electric car. In the last year, National Parks have jumped on the electric car bandwagon. Thomas Edison National Historical Park was naturally the first to include charging stations, but there are more to come. A large number of parks have expressed interest in arranging a partnership and offering this service to the drivers of electric cars.
Making National Parks friendlier to electric cars is just the first step. There are so many places already that aim to make your electric car road trip experience as fun and low-stress as possible. So don't be afraid to get your family together, hop in the electric car, and take an old-fashioned American road trip! As long as you keep these tips and tricks in mind, you'll be able to get anywhere as long as you take the right route. Happy adventuring, eco-warrior!