Op-Ed: Pondering The EV Road Trip Of The Future

I believe I can foresee the future of EV road tripping. What do you think the future holds?

“If electric transportation is ever going to fully kick gas cars into the ash heap of history (ala whale oil and gas lamps), EVs must match, and eventually surpass, internal combustion engine (ICE) cars on the long-distance road trip.”

Joe Wachunas

You (with your travel group) start the day out with 400 miles of range (this is just a little futuristic). Somewhere along the way, before lunch, you make a quick convenient stop to use the facilities. You plug in and by the time you’ve got everyone herded back in the car you’ve added over 40 miles of range and you’re on your way.

A little while later, you decide to stop for lunch. You plug in and add at least 180 miles of range while both you and your car get charged up. A little later in the afternoon you make another convenient pit stop and add another 70+ miles of range.

That evening you arrive at your trip waypoint for an overnight stay. You get some dinner and drive to your hotel. There you plug into a Level 2 charger for the night. It’s been a long day of driving. You are ready to relax, get some rest and do the whole thing again tomorrow. You’ve traveled over 650 miles with only three convenient charging stops along the way.

You know, thinking about it, I suppose someone could possibly stop for dinner, add 210+ more miles of range and then keep on driving on into the late evening covering over 850 miles in a single day. The group could then stop to sleep and charge for a few hours. I suppose it would depend on trip needs, but I would think that doing a long, 12-hour day of driving should be the exception

I know that this future is already here for some of you. But for many of us, it is still some years down the road.

Of course, this hypothetical scenario assumes plenty of range and many more fast chargers being available. Enough chargers that the average driver doesn’t have to give a second thought about where to stop for breaks or for dining. I think that it is well within future possibilities.

How is this going to come to pass?

Because many millions of North Americans are going to switch to vehicles with a plug over the next five to 10 years, regardless. I think that it is most nearly a guaranteed given that we’ll get to 5% overall adoption in North America. That means one in every 20 cars you meet going down the road will be electric. There is simply that much pent-up existing interest and demand. It’s arguably not a matter of “if,” but rather “when.” That 5% adoption can’t help but push charging infrastructure growth, which in turn will prompt more adoption, etc.

I’m a big proponent of plenty of EV range. I’ve argued in the past that EVs need at least 400 miles of range in order to convert the maximum number of auto buyers. In response, some have commented giving their opinion that range is not all that important, but rather charging infrastructure is what is needed.

My recent experience renting a Tesla Model Y while at Disney World showed me that this sentiment has more validity to it than I’d previously thought. (By the way, the Tesla was by far my favorite ride while at Disney World, no contest. I loved it and I’d do it again, absolutely!)

Happily, the model we rented had 300+ miles of range. That came in very handy and served us well. And when I did Supercharge, it worked, no problems.

I’m confident that the charging infrastructure will expand ginormously over the coming years.

What do you think? How long will it take for the charging infrastructure to double in size and availability?

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