Aug 19, 2022 - Technology

What we're driving: The all-electric Volvo C40 Recharge

Volvo C40 Recharge parked alongside the Au Sable river in Michigan, known as the "Holy Waters" for fly-fishing
The Volvo C40 Recharge alongside Michigan's Au Sable River. Photo: Joann Muller

I took an electric Volvo C40 Recharge on a road trip to fly-fishing country in northern Michigan last weekend.

Why it matters: I found out EV road trips are completely doable. You just have to plan ahead.

Details: Some friends invited my husband and me to their cottage along a stretch of the Au Sable river known as the "Holy Waters" for its incredible fly fishing.

  • Their place is about 215 miles away from my home — technically within the Volvo's EPA-estimated range of 226 miles. But those numbers don't always equate to real-world performance, so I wasn't going to take any chances.
  • I knew from talking to auto industry folks that a fast-charging station in the parking lot of a giant Meijer store just off I-75 in Bay City was a popular charging waypoint.
  • I confirmed the location and directions with the embedded Chargepoint app on the Volvo's center touchscreen, which lists all available charging stations. The Plugshare app on my phone was another helpful resource.

How it worked: We left home with 92% battery range, good for 204 miles, according to the car's instrument panel. Two hours and 120 miles later, we exited I-75 at Bay City, with 37% left on the battery.

  • The chargers were easy to find at the east end of the Meijer lot: there was a Tesla Supercharger station (with eight plugs) and an Electrify America station (with four).
  • Anyone can charge at Electrify America, but Tesla's Supercharger is reserved for Tesla drivers. Both stations were busy, but we didn't have to wait.
  • I swiped my credit card, plugged in the Volvo, and walked across the lot to do some shopping.
  • By the time we returned, the car had charged from 37% to 86% in 36 minutes, which cost $19.14, including tax.
  • Interestingly, a comparable gas-powered Volvo XC40 gets 30 miles per gallon, so that 120 miles would have cost less — $15.76, at Michigan's current $3.94 per gallon average gas price.

When we arrived at the cottage, we had a solid 44% left on the battery and decided to go kayaking, knowing we'd have to find a charger again the next day.

  • There were several charging options in the small town of Grayling about six miles away, so we decided to hit a local brewery while we waited.
  • Our trip home to Detroit was similar, but in reverse — we charged up again at Meijer and walked across the lot to grab some burgers at Culver's. Thirty minutes later, we had 180 miles of range (82%) and were ready to hit the road again.

What's needed: It struck me that freeway signs should add a symbol for upcoming EV chargers, like they do for food, gas, and hotels.

The bottom line: My 425-mile road trip in an EV was remarkably stress-free.

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