A few years ago the words “road trip” and “electric vehicle” would not have been something most people would say together. But massive leaps in electric vehicle range have made it possible to make regional road trips a reality. No you won’t be trekking from coast-to-coast as easily as you would in a gas or diesel powered vehicle (yet), but a trip to the beach or grandma’s house is within reason. There are already 15 fully electric vehicles on the market that have a range of 300+ miles. In fact the Lucid Air Dream Edition touts a bladder testing 520 mile range on a single charge! So now that the electric vehicle road trip is a reality, let’s look at what you need to do in preparation.
Just like any other road trip you need to know the best way to get to your destination. But that route can depend on whether you need to recharge at any point. If your destination is well within your EV’s battery range, then you can just fire up the navigation system and go. But if you are going to be cutting it close or already know you will need a charge somewhere along the way, now is the time to plan for it. Some navigation apps are starting to add charging stations as part of route planning. There is also PlugShare which allows you to find charging points across the country along with details about the charger. Whichever way you choose to find recharge stations, give yourself a little extra wiggle room on battery range just in case you encounter traffic or are forced to take a detour.
If you plan on stretching your range try to pick a route with as few elevation changes as possible. While you may recoup some battery power on the way down via regenerative charging, it isn’t a 100% return. If you have a choice between climbing mountains versus gentle plains, stick to the plains.
Take Care Of Maintenance
Even electric cars still need maintenance, albeit much less than their fossil fuel powered relatives. Check the windshield wipers and replace them if they are cracked or worn. Top up the windshield washer fluid as well. Check the tire pressure and rotate the tires if it hasn’t been done recently. Even though your vehicle likely uses regenerative braking most of the time, you still need to have the hydraulic brakes inspected periodically to make sure they will function correctly when duty calls. Make sure all the exterior bulbs are working including high and low beam headlights. If your vehicle has a liquid cooled battery check the battery coolant level. It may also be worth it to have your 12v battery tested. It is separate from your main battery pack and is used to power all kinds of systems. A bad 12v battery can leave you stranded even if you have a charge in the main battery pack.
A good cleaning isn’t just cosmetic, it actually helps the way your electric vehicle performs. Additional weight impacts how much power it takes to get you rolling, which also affects battery range. Get all that junk out of your car that you don’t need on your trip. Emergency kit items like a flashlight or gloves are fine, but the baseball equipment from last weekend’s game can stay home. Give the entire car a good wash to help reduce aerodynamic drag. Spend a little extra time on the windshield by using a water repellent coating for better visibility in the rain. Plus starting the trip with a clean car makes everyone feel a little better.
Plan For Emergencies
An emergency kit is never a bad thing to have on a road trip. Things like a can of tire sealer, first aid kit, work gloves, flashlight, fire extinguisher, duct tape, and phone charger are all great to keep tucked away for an emergency. During the summer you may even want to carry a bottle of water or two. If you have a portable 110v vehicle charger bring it along too. It may take a lot longer to charge using 110v, but it is better than nothing in a pinch.
Charge It Up
This may seem silly to say, but go ahead and start your trip with a fully charged battery. Don’t gamble on charging later down the road. Take advantage of scheduled departure features that can activate your vehicle’s AC and precool the cabin to a comfortable temperature while still connected to grid power. This gives you a head start on comfort without making your onboard battery do the heavy lifting of beating back summer’s heat. If your trip includes an overnight hotel stay, give preference to finding a hotel with a charger. Just remember to be considerate and move your vehicle once it is charged so others can top up as well. If you are staying at a rental such as an Airbnb you can even include “EV charger” in your search criteria.
Check The Weather
Check the weather along your route a few days before leaving. A trip through extended heavy rain can sap battery power enough to affect your charging plans. Pushing through standing water takes more energy than a dry road. Plus the windshield wipers and headlights are also taking power. If you do end up driving through bad weather, plan to give yourself a roughly 10% decrease in battery range as a safety margin.
Gearing up for an EV road trip takes a little more planning but also less hassle than running for a last minute oil change. Take a day or two beforehand to get everything prepared and you will enjoy a successful trip.
Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPAOnline or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to prepare your electric car for a road trip, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA Auto Parts store.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
With an automotive writing career spanning over two decades, Brian has a passion for sharing the automotive lifestyle. An avid DIYer he can usually be found working on one of his many project cars. His current collection includes a 1969 Olds Delta 88 convertible and a slant-6 powered 1975 Plymouth Duster.