Clean Energy

4 Tips for Driving Electric on Your 2020 Summer Road Trip

More electric vehicle charging stations equal more summer fun.

By: | July 1, 2019

With an 81 percent increase in electric vehicle (EV) sales in 2018 over 2017 1 and sales of over 100,0002 as of May 2019, more people are turning to EVs for their transportation needs. But what about the classic summer tradition: the road trip? The American Automobile Association reports that road trips are still the most popular family vacation option3. And, with some planning ahead, hitting the road for family fun in your EV is easier than ever.

Road tripping without Range Anxiety.

The phrase “range anxiety” has been part of the EV driving culture since electric vehicles quietly started taking to the asphalt over the last decade. And each year as car design and battery capacity improve, the distance between charges gets extended. EV-friendly highways are beginning to take shape. Government agencies are working with organizations and companies to create electric vehicle charging stations in less populated areas, making EV travel more convenient and attractive, giving you more confidence in planning your great American road trip. Take a look at a corridor map to get the lay of the land.

Are you thinking about road tripping in an EV? Here are some quick 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 be all 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 can also 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 your 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 apps available on Apple and Android platforms. One of the more popular is PlugShare. It features a comprehensive collection of electric vehicle charging stations across the U.S. Along with the ability to view 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 database4 automatically pulls down information from the country’s biggest EV charging networks—updating electric vehicle charging station info every few minutes. But the real power of PlugShare comes from its community of passionate electric car drivers sharing their advice and insights.

No matter which EV you are using for your road trip, PlugShare lets you use your smartphone to know which electric vehicle charging stations are near.

Here is a listing of other EV charging apps and websites to consider. If you’re curious about EV charging specifics, check out our related article on electric vehicle charging basics.

Tip Three: Get the most range

To AC or not to AC

Since winter driving has shown to decrease battery capacity by up to 30% in extreme cold, will operating your AC in the heat of the summer matter? The effect is minimal. Some EV drivers report at most five miles in range loss. Keep in mind compared to having the windows open, the lower wind resistance of having the AC on will probably favor your overall distance and performance.

Regenerate when possible

Newer EVs feature regenerative braking, which helps recharge your battery when the brakes get 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.

Take it easy

Take your time, and you’ll find yourself more relaxed and calm—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 electric vehicles. They may be classified into simple terms such as Drive, Eco, or Braking. Each EV model will have their modes, so keep in mind how to optimize these as you travel through different traffic and terrain.

Tip Four: Share

After all, what’s social media good for -- if not to brag a bit about your remarkable EV escape from the bland and ordinary? Tell us on Twiter @XcelEnergy or Facebook

Happy trails!

 Still wondering if an EV is right for your lifestyle? Our free EV Advisor Tool will help you find the right fit.

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A self-professed energy nerd, Paul loves to explore how technology trends are bringing convenience and surprising benefits to our lives.