Mar 20, 2023 - Technology

Your biggest electric car road trip questions, answered

The Kia EV6 electric car.

The Kia EV6. Photo: Courtesy of Kia

After driving 2,500 miles in an electric Kia EV6, I recently took to Reddit to answer readers' questions about my journey — and 1 million people tuned in.

  • In case you missed it, I wanted to share some of the highlights with you, lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: "How much planning and how many detours did you need to hit charge points on your journey?"

Answer: "I was really anxious before the trip — I won't lie! I had all these route-planning apps to consult, and I was wishing that it was all integrated into the car (Tesla does that, along with Mercedes-Benz and some others).

  • "I was especially nervous because my husband was doing the first leg alone and meeting me in Washington, D.C. But the apps are remarkably helpful once you figure out how to use them. I liked A Better Route Planner (ABRP) and PlugShare the most.
  • "Each day we would figure out where we were going and where to stop along the way. We did not have to take any big detours — unless you say driving 3–5 miles off the highway is a detour. That was not exactly convenient.
  • "Under the bipartisan Infrastructure Act, the federal government is spending $5 billion to put chargers all along the major highway corridors. They must be no more than 50 miles apart and no more than one mile from the highway. That's starting to happen now, and within a year or two, I think there will be no sweat for these types of road trips."
Joann’s great American EV road trip
The southbound leg of Joann's EV road trip. Data: Joann Muller; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Question: "According to your article, you spent an extra four hours waiting at charging stations to save just $22 over what you would've paid in gas. Is there anything on the horizon ... to make the trade-off more palatable to the average driver?"

Answer: "It's an excellent point — I was surprised at how expensive it was to charge on the road. In fact, Electrify America jacked up its prices during our trip, so I opted for their monthly $4 membership fee, which knocked the price to 36 cents per kilowatt (from the new rate of 48 cents).

  • "Membership pricing is worth it if you're a frequent fast-charger. But don't forget that most of the time, hopefully, you'll be able to charge at home, and in that regard, you’ll save a lot of money that you're not spending at the gas station."

Question: "How'd it drive?"

Answer: "The Kia EV6 is a great car. In fact, it won top honors in this year’s North American Car, Truck and Utility of the Year Awards. (Full disclosure: I'm a juror).

  • "Adaptive cruise control works great and is recommended on a road trip, because you want to drive as efficiently as possible. You can control the regenerative braking, and we did not have it set aggressively, so deceleration truly felt like any other car. It’s not the fastest EV on the market, but it had plenty of get-up-and-go for merging or passing.
  • Yes, but: "It has this one feature that drives me nuts ... this goofy system on the dash that toggles between radio/nav controls and climate controls. So if you want to change the temperature, you might accidentally increase the volume or zoom out on the map, because you were in the wrong mode."

Question: "What was your biggest surprise on your EV road trip?"

Answer: "The thing that many people don’t understand is the different levels of "fast-charging" and how even the fastest charger doesn't always deliver electricity as fast as advertised.

  • "The upshot: You don't really know when you arrive at a charging station how fast the energy will be delivered, and therefore how long you’re going to have to wait.
  • "Overall, I was fairly satisfied with a 20–25 minute recharge to 80%, but sometimes, if you’re unlucky, you could be there an hour!"
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