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Chosing an electric vehicle for your summer road trip may not be the most obvious choice but I truly enjoy the sense of freedom from loud noises and vibration that an EV allows when cruising through national parks and other areas where I want to enjoy what's around me as much as I do what I'm inside of. Despite this, I'm not oblivious to the challenges that EV road trips present. While there have been massive improvements in battery technology in recent years, an EV is still best suited for short to medium trips under 200 miles at at time. Luckily, there are plenty of great summer excursions that are perfect for this. Let's take a look at how you can maximize your experience exploring America in an EV this summer.

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While most of you guys that are reading this probably already own an electric vehicle and are trying to figure out ways to make a summer road trip more enjoyable. Others of you though may be looking at a quick weekend getaway as a perfect opportunity to try an EV for the first time. Whatever stage of EV ownership you happen to be in, this article should make things much easier and far less frustrating by helping you to overcome obstacles.

Yes You Can Rent An EV For A Weekend Road Trip

You can rent an electric vehicle (EV) for your weekend road trip from several different rental car agencies as well as sharing services like Turo. This not only provides a cost-effective and eco-friendly solution for your short getaway but also allows you to explore the benefits of electric driving without any long-term commitment.

Several car rental agencies, including Hertz, Budget, and Enterprise, now offer electric vehicles in their fleets. The variety of1 models available will differ based on the location you are picking up from and not surprisingly, more urban locations and especially airports in places like California, Florida, and Texas offer more options. This ensures that you'll find an EV that suits your requirements, whether you're planning a solo trip or a fun-filled weekend away with family.

Two of our favorite rental vehicles available for road trips include the Kia EV6 and Polestar 2 (a division of Volvo). Both make great options for your road trip because they offer very rapid charging and long range. For example, the 2024 Polestar 2 offers between 276 to 320 miles of range and can charge to 80% (about 200 miles of range) in the time it would take you to have lunch at a fast casual restaurant (30 minutes). 

Opting for an electric vehicle for your road trip not only helps you save on fuel costs but also provides an exciting peek into the future of transportation without having to invest in buying a new car before you are ready. While this can be a challenging experience for first time EV drivers to learn about things like charging times and navigating the diverse infrastructure of charging stations ... it can add a fun and exciting element to the road trip experience.

Selecting A Good Route For Your EV Road Trip

It's essential to plan ahead to select a good route for your EV road trip. The ideal route should have charging stations no more than 90 miles apart to accommodate most EVs, considering an average minimum range of about 100-miles. This strategy will help reduce any range anxiety even though modern EVs can go more than 200 miles between charging.

Planning Your Route Around Charging Stations

While plenty of chargers are available along most major motorways across the United States, I simply can't advocate for anything less than a fast charger, except as a backup or if you are planning a long stop somewhere. For instance, a DCFC (DC Fast Charging) station can pump out between 50-350 kW of power and charge your battery to 100%, typically in less than an hour at maximum efficiency, a Level 2 charger found in many parking lots can take many many hours. For example, on a 1.8 KW charger it would take nearly 30 hours to add 150 miles to a Polestar 2. On the other hand, using a DC 50kW charger can add the same amount of range in just over an hour. If you connect it to a DC 350kW or a 250 kW Super Charger then that time drops to only about 23 minutes.

The slower chargers are a great option for home use or even when charging at your hotel overnight. However, it can be challenging sometimes to deal with EV cable management since there are a lot of competing standards. If you own an EV (as opposed to renting an EV), I highly suggest that you get an adapter so you can use Tesla Superchargers as this is absolutely the superior option for charging on a road trip.

Pair Your Charging Time With Bathroom and Meal Breaks

The biggest thing I had to change in my mind when I started to do EV road trips was that unlike with traditional vehicles where I would run the gas tank down to empty and then fill back up, "filling up" your EV is more like how you manage the batter on your phone. For example, you try never to let your battery go fully to empty and you add charge to it where you can. 

In this case, when you plan your route, pick spots where you can stop and grab a bite to eat while charging or maybe going shopping. Many big box stores like Walmart, Target, and Meijer now offer banks of DCFC stations so you can plug in, go grab something to eat and pick up supplies to use at the destination your are heading to. Similarly, Taco Bell, McDonalds and others are doing the same.

Even if you only spend 20 minutes, this can usually add 50-100 miles of range for most EVs and often far more.

Pick A Hotel Or Rental Property With Charging Stations

Many hotels offer charging stations and this is especially true for urban locations with valet parking. However, you can also find many VRBO and AirBnb rentals where they offer EV charging options. This will allow you to ensure that you can charge overnight and have plenty of range to do whatever you want during the day.

Plan Your Destination Around Doing Something Where An EV Shines

Taking an EV through a national park is an incredible experience since you can roll down the windows and cruise nearly silently through some of natures most beautiful landscapes. When driving a traditional gas-powered car, engine noise, fumes, and vibration can take you out of the moment. With an EV though, the experience will be smooth and silent.

Range Anxiety And Running Out Of Charge On The Road

Let's wrap things up by talking a bit about range anxiety. This is a real concern and especially true for new EV drivers who aren't very familiar with how things work. While it's true the you can't just get a jerry can of gas from a local gas station, road side service companies such as AAA as well as most towing companies now offer mobile charging services. 

Mobile EV Charging

As of last fall, AAA offers mobile EV charging as an included benefit to their members in 24 different cities across the United States. 

Road Closures and Getting Stuck In Traffic 

However, as I discovered last year during a road trip to Vegas, an EV consumes far less energy while stuck in traffic or delayed by a road closure than a gas-powered car. 

Always Make Sure To Carry Charging Cables With You

Charging stations have the cables and plugs for you ready to charge up the same way a gas pump does. However, most EVs come with a cable that can plug into a standard AC outlet as well. This is a VERY SLOW option but it can be a life saver if you get to an emergency situation where you are stuck in a remote area.