Electric vehicles make cruising along the open road an even more enjoyable experience. Driving with the wind in your hair and not a care in the world is a dream many share. Now imagine fulfilling that dream in an electric vehicle, gliding silently along powered by just a battery. That’s what I’m experiencing on my current electric vehicle road trip across the country from New York to California in a 2022 Tesla Model 3 Long Range.
Electric vehicles now have ranges over 300 miles on a single charge, making cross-country journeys possible without stopping at a single gas station. With superchargers located every 100-300 miles and apps to plan your route, driving an EV across the United States is easier than ever. I’m living that dream, learning first-hand how far electric vehicle technology has come. This coast-to-coast adventure in my Tesla Model 3 has been eye-opening and makes me excited for the future of long-distance electric road tripping.
Planning the Route
The first step in an EV cross-country road trip is planning your route. With a range of around 300 miles on my Tesla Model 3, I needed to plot a course that would allow me to stop about every 3-4 hours to recharge the battery. Fortunately, the number of EV charging stations around the country has exploded in recent years. Apps like PlugShare and ChargePoint made it easy to map out supercharger and level 2 charging locations along my intended route.
I decided to roughly follow Interstate 80, charging up along the way at Tesla Supercharger stations in cities like Cleveland, Chicago, Des Moines, and Cheyenne. Route planning is key for an EV road trip to ensure you can make it to the next charging stop with juice to spare.
EVs don’t have the massive trunk space of some gas guzzling SUVs, so packing light is a must. I managed to fit two small suitcases and a backpack in the Model 3’s trunk, but anything more would have been a tight squeeze. The frunk (front trunk) provides a little extra space for a couple small bags or coats.
Packing efficiently and not overloading the car is important to maximize range. The heavier the load, the more energy the EV will consume per mile. I brought just the essentials – clothes, toiletries, phone chargers, road trip snacks, and my camera gear.
Charging On the Go
One thing that still makes road tripping in an EV a bit different than a gas car is the need to stop more frequently to recharge the battery. My longest stretch between charges was about 300 miles before I needed to top up the battery. Some ways I passed the time during charging stops:
- Grabbing a quick bite – many EV charging stations are located at restaurants, malls, and convenience stores. The 30-40 minutes it takes to fast charge gave me time to stretch my legs and get some food.
- Exploring the area – charging stops are a chance to check out local attractions and shops near the station. I found some really cool spots I wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
- Planning the next leg – I used charging downtime to study the route ahead, checking traffic and weather reports.
With charging stops every few hours, an EV road trip moves at a more leisurely pace than pounding the pedal for 800 miles in one go. I grew to enjoy the enforced breaks to re-energize myself as much as the car.
Apps are Your Friend
To ease range anxiety and charger confusion, downloading EV-specific apps is a must. I relied heavily on apps like PlugShare, ChargePoint, and Tesla’s own app to locate charging stations along my route. The apps provide useful filters to find stations that are compatible with your EV, available, and functional. Nothing worse than rolling up to a charger that’s out of order!
I also kept a close eye on energy consumption, mileage left, and charging progress through the Tesla app and dash display. The user-friendly software made it simple to monitor my range in real-time. Apps provide peace of mind for first-time EV road trippers.
Enjoy the Ride
After the charging logistics, my favorite part of the EV driving experience itself is the smooth, quiet accelerator and regenerative braking. Accelerating nearly silently up to 70 mph using just the power stored in the battery pack never gets old. Regen braking that feeds kinetic energy back into the battery helps maximize mileage too.
Road tripping in my Tesla has been surprisingly fun and relaxing. I expected to feel range anxiety and frustration over charging stops, but instead it’s been an enjoyable adventure. Driving an EV across the country has opened my eyes to the capabilities of electric vehicles as more charging infrastructure gets built. The future of road trips is electric, and I can’t wait to do it again.
Frequently Asked Questions About Driving an Electric Vehicle Across the Country:
1. How often do you need to charge on an EV cross-country road trip?
With current EV ranges, you’ll typically need to charge about every 3-4 hours or 200-300 miles. My Tesla Model 3 Long Range can go about 300 miles between charges.
2. How long does it take to charge an EV on a road trip?
Most new EVs can charge from 10-80% in about 30-45 minutes on DC fast chargers along major highways. Slower level 2 chargers take a few hours.
3. What apps help you find EV charging stations on a road trip?
PlugShare, ChargePoint, and ChargeHub are popular apps that locate stations compatible with your EV. Tesla’s app shows their nationwide Supercharger locations.
4. How do you plan the route for an EV road trip?
Plot your route based on where fast charging stations are located, about every 100-300 miles apart. Apps can map out charger locations to build an efficient cross-country route.
5. Where are the best places to charge on a cross-country EV road trip?
Charging stations along major interstates and highways are most convenient. Many are located at restaurants, shops, malls, and hotels – giving you things to do during the 30-60 minute charging session.
6. What are some road trip tips for maximizing EV range?
Drive at moderate speeds 65-70mph, use regenerative braking, turn off AC when possible, pack light, and plan your route around charger locations to maximize range.
7. How much extra time does charging add to an EV vs gas car road trip?
With charging stops every 3-4 hours, an EV road trip may take 15-25% longer driving time than a gas car that can go 500+ miles between refueling.
8. What food/drinks should you pack for an EV road trip?
Bring healthy, non-perishable snacks and drinks you can eat while charging. Granola bars, nuts, fruit, sandwiches, juice boxes and water are easy options.
9. What electric vehicles are best for cross-country road trips?
Long range EV models like the Tesla Model 3 Long Range, Model Y Long Range, and Ford Mustang Mach-E Extended Range have ideal 300+ mile battery ranges for cross country drives.
10. Do you need to plan overnight stays around charger locations on a cross-country EV road trip?
Yes, it’s recommended to plan your hotels and motels around charger sites. Many hotels now have EV charging stations on-site as well.