This article is from the September 2, 2020, issue of Flip the Script, a weekly newsletter moving you from climate stress to clean energy action. Sign up here to get it in your inbox (and share the link with a friend).
The electric vehicle revolution is most definitely underway. Over the past year, as EVs have become more popular in the U.S., people have been documenting their experiences with long-distance EV travel, to demonstrate how the vehicles are up to the task and primed for the mainstream. The bottom line? The EV road trip is totally doable and is getting easier by the day. While it does require a bit of planning—since chargers aren’t as ubiquitous as gas stations (yet)—it’s far easier than most of us think.
Check out our top three picks for “best documented EV road trip” from the past 12 months (and tune into our Electrify Your Ride playlist on Spotify while you read…)
Last fall, reporters with E&E News traveled 8,000 miles by electric car to explore how electric transportation will change America. The road-trippers drove a total of six EVs through 19 states, interviewing dozens of people along the way and gathering data on everything from EV energy use and emissions to the location and speeds of charging stations. Among other insights, the participants found that the EVs released far fewer carbon dioxide emissions than a comparable gasoline vehicle, though emissions varied by state and by whether the electricity was generated from conventional or renewable energy sources.
L.A.-based reporter Ivan Penn rode with representatives of EVgo, a company that’s building fast charging stations across the U.S., on a 540-mile round trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas in early 2019. The road-trippers, driving a Chevy Bolt EV, had no problem finding charging stations along the way, although they experienced some glitches with fast charging. In total, the team spent around 8 hours on the road and nearly 5.5 hours juicing up the car. The upside? They were able to make the most of their time by enjoying a long lunch, visiting a casino, and exploring a few tourist attractions along the way.
3. Hyundai Highways video series
This summer, HyundaiUSA released a series of videos showcasing epic drives across the country in a Hyundai Kona Electric, taking in breathtaking vistas from Big Sur to Death Valley and Yellowstone. The goal was to highlight how much it’s possible to see and do on a single charge of the EV’s battery, given the vehicle’s estimated 258-mile range. The scenery alone makes you want to jump into the driver’s seat and go for a spin. Bonus? It’s easy to feel good about driving through some of the country’s most pristine landscapes while releasing zero emissions.
Sure, flexibility is key on an EV road trip (isn’t that the spirit of the road trip anyway?). But the technology, convenience, and investment are evolving at a mind-boggling pace. The fastest Level 3 public chargers can now top up your Chevy Bolt, Nissan Leaf, or Tesla Model S in as little as 30 minutes. Cities, businesses, and apartment complexes are integrating charging stations into their everyday planning, and auto manufacturers are making them a key pillar of their business models. In June, the Volkswagen subsidiary Electrify America completed its first coast-to-coast open charging route, which enables drivers to travel the 2,700 miles from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. with only 70 miles between stations. “By making long-distance travel in an EV a reality, we hope to encourage more consumers to make the switch to electric,” said the company’s director of operations.
So what’s your delay in going electric? The auto industry is on it, cities are behind it, and, increasingly, it’s a convenient way to get around, whether you’re just zipping around the city or going the distance. With scientists and engineers working on everything from cheaper batteries to wireless chargers built into roads, the innovations that come with EVs will drastically tilt the playing field. So step into the driver’s seat and prepare to have your mind blown with the possibilities.
Originally published in the 9/2/20 edition of our Flip the Script newsletter