A road trip in an electric vehicle (EV) is unlike any traditional car-trip you’ve ever experienced. Sure, it takes some planning. Electric cars have a specific mileage range, so you’ll need to find access to charging stations along the way. But a long list of mobile apps and sites like Google Maps and PlugShare help you easily plot out routes and charging sites between destinations. Exploring America in an electric car is not only planet-friendly, but it’s also an adventure.
Most electric cars have the capability of driving at least 200 miles before needing a charge. Some newer, high-end models offer 300-mile-plus ranges. Older models sold as far back as 2012 have a much smaller range, however. Many electric cars offer battery-saving modes and regenerative braking, which returns energy to the battery as the car slows. Efficient driving practices allow you to hit the battery’s maximum range. Avoid hard braking and coast when possible. The vehicle’s driver-assist technology system analyzes your driving and keeps you informed of issues that drain battery charges more quickly.
Many free mobile apps keep EV drivers connected to crucial information about their car’s charge as well as charging station locations. Some cater to specific charging networks and non-profit, non-commercial services provide others. Plan your trip using reviews from other users regarding charging experiences at specific locations. Find out ahead of time if there is an issue with a charging station on your list and locate alternate charging sites. Reserve hotel rooms at EV-friendly lodging facilities that offer free chargers for guests. Find payment options available at different charging stations.
The EV industry often refers to a phenomenon called “range anxiety” when discussing the distance electric cars can travel. People accustomed to driving gas-powered vehicles feel a bit uneasy about taking off on adventures in a car that needs charging after a few hours of driving. But with major growth in charging station infrastructure across the U.S., this is becoming less of an issue for drivers no matter what routes they choose. There are around 57,000 charging outlets and more than 20,000 public charging stations available nationwide.
If you plan time-sensitive stops, don’t forget to account for vehicle charging. The bigger your battery capacity, the longer it takes to fully charge it. There are seven different types of charging stations for the different EV models, with three different levels of charging capacity. Basic home chargers are level 1, while public chargers are mostly level 2. Level 3 charging stations are fast-charging stations. Check the manufacturer’s vehicle information for specific charge times for your car. Most experienced EV drivers suggest topping up during the day as needed while you explore locales, then do a full charge overnight.
Plan a road trip to explore the country’s national parks. A 2017 project added 90 EV charging stations in and near national parks in 13 states, including Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts, Everglades National Park in Florida, Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, Death Valley National Park in California, and Mount Rainier National Park in Washington, as well as several other sites. The National Park Service plans to add more charging sites in the future.
Unforgettable vistas with rolling hillsides and breathtaking shoreline views add to the splendor of Highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway that starts in Southern California and ends in Astoria, Oregon. Plan charging stops in Malibu, Big Sur, Santa Cruz, Mendocino, and Eureka in the Golden State, but take time to indulge yourself with the local cuisine, famous attractions, site-seeing opportunities, camping sites, and hiking trails. In Oregon, continue following the mountainous splendor of the coast and grab charge top-ups in Newport and Cannon Beach before reaching the end of your journey in Astoria.
When someone mentions road trip, most people think of Route 66, a 2220-mile route through eight states. Not only will you discover some of America’s most historic and unique sites along the way, but you’ll also find more than 250 charging stations within two miles of this legendary route. Start your adventure in Chicago, and make your way through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before reaching your final destination in Santa Monica, CA. There’s no better way to celebrate and link the past to the future than traveling this historic route in an electric car.
For those who want to experience the glitz, glamour, and excitement of the East Coast, start your journey in New York or Brooklyn. You’ll find several available charging stations to get you started. Cross the infamous Holland Tunnel, and head down the New Jersey Turnpike. There are lots of opportunities along the way to stop, stretch your legs, and top up your EV. Cities along the route include Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. Treat yourself to the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia, one of the nation’s most beautiful and scenic drives. You’ll pass through Savannah and Orlando before landing in Miami.
If you’re looking for a quick, weekend getaway or day trip, travel the 540-miles from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Half of all the electric cars on the road today belong to Californians, so you’ll have no issue finding charging stations there. Visit the World’s Tallest Thermometer in Baker, a town near the Nevada border. Top-off your charge here, but EV drivers warn that it’s often crowded. Once you’ve reached Nevada, you’ll find both Level 2 and Level 3 charging stations along the major highways and interstates.
If you don’t own an electric car, that shouldn’t stop you from experiencing the joy of exploring one of the country’s most beautiful destinations. The island of Maui is about 48 miles long. You’ll find lots of charging stations on the western end and you can rent an EV there as well. First, head to the white sands, crystal-blue waters, and convenient charging stations of Kāʻanapali Beach. Grab some sunshine or explore 11-acres of delightful tropical gardens while your EV charges. Travel north to the vibrant city of Kahului and top up while you enjoy a leisurely meal. From there, experience a 52-mile, winding drive through the rainforest to Hana, on the northeastern tip of the island. Explore waterfalls, beautiful flora and fauna, and ancient, historical sites.