Feb 6, 2023 - Technology

Pack up the electric car, honey! We're hitting the road

Illustration of a road sign with a lightning bolt on it

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

People are increasingly curious about electric cars. Before they buy, though, most want to know whether they can drive one on a long road trip.

  • I'm about to find out.

What's happening: My husband Bill and I are sick of winter in Michigan, and decided we'd rather work remotely in Florida for the month of February.

  • We'll drive to the Sunshine State and back — 2,700 miles or so — in a Kia EV6 on loan from the automaker's press fleet.
  • Bill will do the first leg of the trip solo, since I'm in Washington, D.C. this week for Axios' annual staff retreat.
  • After we meet up in D.C., we'll take our time getting to Florida.
  • That's partly by design: We've been warned by other electric vehicle (EV) road trippers to expect delays and build in extra time for charging.

Why it matters: If Americans are going to switch to electric cars, they want charging to be as convenient and seamless as filling up the gas tank.

  • But U.S. public charging infrastructure is spotty, which is why the federal government is investing $7.5 billion in new charging stations, mostly along highways.
  • Even though most people will do their daily charging at home, they want the security of knowing there are abundant highway chargers for that rare road trip.

Worth noting: If we were driving a Tesla, our trip would likely be a lot easier.

  • Tesla has the fastest, most reliable and extensive charger network.
  • Its SuperChargers recognize your car and automatically bill you — no fumbling with credit cards or phone apps.
  • Other charging networks and carmakers are just beginning to roll out similar plug-and-charge features.

How we prepared: Unlike some other EVs, such as the Mercedes EQE, the EV6 doesn't have a built-in charging planner in its navigation system.

  • So we downloaded several route-planning apps — A Better Route Planner, PlugShare and Chargeway — to guide us toward the best charging stops.
  • Enter a destination and the car you're driving, and the apps suggest where to charge along your route.
  • They predict the car's battery level, and also advise how long it will take to recharge and be on your way again.
  • We also set up accounts with all the major charging networks, including Electrify America, EVGo and Chargepoint to speed the billing process.

The bottom line: Every road trip is an adventure, but this one promises to be even more so.

  • Let me know what you're most curious about, at [email protected]. I'll share updates in the coming days and weeks.
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