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Road Trips Are Easier Than You Think In An EV

ZETA Staff
ZETA Staff
ZETA Staff
May 23, 2024

Memorial Day is the unofficial start of the summer, and more than 38 million travelers are expected to drive at least 50 miles to visit friends and family this year. Following record sales in 2023, the number of drivers making the trip in an EV will be higher than ever before—meaning this will be the first EV road trip experience for many. 

Some of these new EV roadtrippers might have questions about what to expect. The easy answer: an EV road trip is almost no different from a gas-powered one. Planning ahead to avoid traffic, packing good snacks, and lining up a solid playlist all remain road trip essentials. Driving an EV can offer a more affordable, safer, and superior driving experience. That said, here are a few tips for your next road trip.

Tip 1: Plan your route 

Depending on how far you are traveling, you may not need to charge your vehicle en route at all. The average electric car in the United States has a 291 mile range (a fourfold increase since 2011), and some models have ranges exceeding 400 miles. If you are traveling longer distances, there are several route planning tools available to identify charging options and availability along your route—including Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Waze. For multi-day travel, many hotel chains now provide charging for overnight guests.

Researchers recommend drivers stop for at least 15 minutes every two hours of driving. This not only gives you the opportunity to stretch your legs, get some food, and walk the dog, but it also provides plenty of time to charge up your car: a Direct Current Fast Charger (DCFC) can charge a battery from 0-80% in roughly 20 minutes

ZETA has more answers to common charging questions here.

Tip 2: Precondition your battery

Preconditioning your EV’s battery can help improve the efficiency of your charging experience. Simply put, preconditioning either cools or warms the battery (depending on the external environment) to optimize it to receive a charge. Most EV models have the ability to precondition the battery prior to charging, either through the vehicle’s settings or by selecting a charging station on the vehicle’s onboard navigation system. Generally, manufacturers recommend preconditioning your battery 20-30 minutes before charging, though each automaker will have specific recommendations in the owner’s manual.

Tip 3: Bring your charging adapter if you have one

Over the past year, the EV industry has coalesced around the North American Charging Standard (NACS), which is the electrical vehicle connector used in the Tesla Supercharger network. In the long term, this will help standardize and simplify the charging experience. In the meantime, it is important for drivers to be prepared when going on longer trips. Knowing which type of charger your car uses and making sure that you have adapters (either CCS to NACS or vice versa) will expand your charging options.

The summer of 2024 will be the first time the Supercharger network will open to non-Tesla EV drivers. FAQs on the network and how to access it are available here.

Looking ahead: How will things change in the future?

There are more than 75,000 public EV charging stations in the United States, with more on the way. Funds from the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) formula program are providing $7.5 billion to support the installation of additional public EV charging stations along our highways and in our communities. Simultaneously, significant private investment in EV charging is helping give drivers options and making stations ubiquitous throughout the country. Going forward, these investments will make it easier to find charging as you road trip across the country.

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About ZETA

National policies to support 100% electric vehicle sales.

The Zero Emission Transportation Association (ZETA) is a federal coalition focused on advocating for 100% EV sales. Enacting policies that drive EV adoption will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, secure American global EV manufacturing dominance, drastically improve public health, and significantly reduce carbon pollution.