Environmental Leadership
May 18, 2021

Five tips to make the most of your electric vehicle summer road trip

Let’s face it, we’re feeling a bit antsy for the open road these days, after nearly a year and a half of a different kind of life. And the classic summer tradition of the road trip is pretty alluring.

The American Automobile Association reports that road trips remain a popular family vacation option. And with some planning, hitting the road for summer fun in your electric vehicle (EV) is easier than ever.

Road-tripping without range anxiety

The phrase “range anxiety” has been part of the EV driving culture since EVs quietly started taking to the asphalt over the last decade. And each year, as car design and battery capacity improve, the distance between charges is extended.

EV-friendly highways are taking shape. Government agencies are working with organizations and companies to create EV charging stations in less populated areas, making EV travel more convenient and attractive, and giving you more confidence in planning your Great American Road Trip.

Here are five tips to make the most of your journey. 

Tip One: Plan ahead

Compared to gas-powered vehicles or hybrids, road-tripping with an all-electric car requires some forethought and planning, which can all be part of the adventure. Once you’ve picked your destination, you’ll want to find the best possible route to make sure you’re hitting charging stations. It also can be a great way to plan out which sights, restaurants and activities you want to catch along the way.

Tip Two: Use apps to get going

There are lots of tools out there to help EV drivers locate charging stations and plan routes. Some of them come from vehicle makers. For instance, Tesla offers a map on the car’s display, which shows its Supercharger Network.

You can also turn to one of several EV apps available on Apple and Android platforms. One of the more popular is PlugShare. It features a comprehensive collection of charging stations across the United States. Along with viewing real-time station access, there are user reviews, pictures, other local interests and more.

PlugShare keeps current with all available charging options and formats. The database automatically pulls down information from the country’s most extensive EV charging networks — updating every few minutes. Another advantage of PlugShare is its community of passionate EV drivers sharing their advice and insights. Here’s a how-to article that will get you started with PlugShare.

PlugShare also offers a trip planner tool that allows you to plot out your road trip to add stops to coincide with local attractions on your route via Google Maps.

No matter which EV model you are using for your road trip, PlugShare lets you use your smartphone to indicate which EV charging stations are nearby.

Tip Three: Get the most range

To AC or not to AC

Will operating your AC in the heat of the summer matter? The effect is minimal, experts say. Some EV drivers report at most five miles in range loss. And actually, compared to having the windows open, the lower wind resistance of having the AC on may favor your overall distance and performance.

Regenerate when possible

Newer EVs feature regenerative braking, which helps recharge your battery when the brakes are applied. By driving in a way that allows for longer, more gradual application of the brakes, you may be able to add more life to your battery.

Tire pressure

The most influential factor on rolling resistance is tire pressure. So maintaining proper tire pressure on your EV is highly beneficial. Get a simple tire gauge and make it a habit. Need new tires for your EV? Look for tires with thicker sidewalls, low rolling resistance and a tread designed for reduced noise.

Tip Four: Find some inner zen

Take it easy

Take your time, and you’ll find yourself more relaxed and calmer — which can help you make smarter driving decisions. Moderating acceleration and slower speeds are also ways to extend your battery life.

Set the right mode

Driving modes are available on most EVs. They may be classified into simple terms such as Drive, Eco or Braking. Each EV model will have its modes, so keep in mind how to optimize these as you travel through different traffic conditions and terrains.

Tip Five: Celebrate the torque

Time and time again, first-time EV drivers are pleasantly surprised by the acceleration qualities of their cars — often described as perky or peppy. Mechanically, it’s known as instant torque — the ability to reach maximum torque right from a standstill or zero RPM. And it can be a bit of a rush, especially for the heavy-footed driving enthusiast.

So quiet

Another factor is the low sound operation of an EV. With no pistons firing from exploding fuel, you are left with road noise from your tires and the effects of wind across the car’s body. And that may let you enjoy the scenic surroundings on your road trip even more.

Happy trails!

Still wondering if an EV is right for your lifestyle? Xcel Energy's enhanced web resources can help start your EV education journey at ev.xcelenergy.com.