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Save Time When Road Tripping in Your EV

By
Chase Drum
May 2024
7
min
Taking a road trip with an EV can be a great experience, especially if you do some planning ahead. If you’re looking to truly maximize your efficiency on an EV road trip, these advanced tips will help you save even more time.
EV driving on the road next to water
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Maximize Time on the Road and Minimize Time Charging

Now that you’ve prepared for your electric vehicle road trip, let’s look at some more advanced methods to optimize efficiency and cover more ground effectively. This article explores practical strategies for making the most out of your EV road trip once on the road. In doing so, you’ll save time and get to your destination faster and more comfortably.

dashboard of EV showing charging progress

Understanding Your EV’s Range

Knowing the range of your electric car and how various factors affect it can greatly increase your road trip efficiency and reduce how many times you’ll need to stop.

Range factors such as speed, terrain/altitude, weather conditions, and the use of in-car electronics play significant roles in your EV’s battery life. Also consider the use of your EV’s HVAC system – some electric cars have heat pumps, which minimize the energy impact of heating and cooling the car, while other EVs’ range is more significantly affected by heating or cooling the car.

As with any car, driving at moderate speeds on highways and using features like regenerative braking can help conserve energy.

Over time, monitoring your EV’s energy consumption through its dashboard interface will help you develop an understanding of its energy consumption patterns – helping you adjust your driving habits in real-time to maximize range.

public EV chargers

Strategic Charging

Strategic charging is key to minimizing downtime during your road trip. Understanding when and where to charge can help you maintain a steady pace as well as reduce charging wait times.

  • Fast charge during breaks: Plan to charge your EV during meal breaks or while you stretch your legs to kill two birds with one stone.
  • Understand your EV’s charging curve: Every EV has a charging curve, which represents the fluctuation in speed during a charging session. Many drivers prefer charging to about 80 percent capacity, as charging from 80 to 100 percent can take disproportionately longer. Certain EVs also charge at a set speed, but most charge fastest from 0 to 60 percent. So, sometimes taking more frequent but shorter charging stops can actually get you to your destination faster than less frequent, but  longer, charging stops. It’s best to research in advance the charge curve of your car.
  • EV charger plug type: With Tesla opening their charging infrastructure to more brands, it’s worth knowing if your EV can use their supercharger network, and if so, whether you need an adapter for your car to use it.

Load and Accessories Management

The way you pack and the accessories you choose to install can have a significant impact on your EV’s efficiency.

  • Weight Considerations: The heavier your vehicle, the more energy it requires to move. Driving on most highways, you won’t notice much of a difference unless you’re going over mountain passes or experience large changes in altitude. If you’re going downhill, more weight will increase brake regeneration, but when driving long distances, it’s not likely make much of a range difference. (If there’s another route you can drive that has less altitude change, that will likely mean less charging.) Navigation apps like Google can even give you the most energy-efficient options for your trip.
  • Aerodynamics: If you don’t need the storage provided by them, remove any roof racks or carriers to reduce drag. Roof boxes especially can impact your range by 10 to 15 percent, or even more. Removing these accessories, if not needed, will also give you a quieter, smoother ride, as they generate more wind noise going down the road.
  • Tires: Ensure your tires are properly inflated according to the manufacturer's recommendations and in good condition – as in not bald and recently rotated. Low tire pressure can significantly reduce your EV’s range.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

Leveraging technology can greatly enhance your EV road trip experience by optimizing routes and managing time more effectively.

  • Mobile apps: Use EV-specific apps that can not only help you locate charging stations, but also provide insights into their current availability and charging speeds. Have a look at our article about planning for an EV road trip for some good suggestions.
  • Smart features: Take advantage of your EV’s smart features. These range from energy usage data to preconditioning the battery. Using these features can make a big difference while on the way to a charger – optimizing the battery’s charging performance and reducing charging times. Most new EVs will do this automatically when routed to a DC fast charger, but worth checking to make sure your car has this pre-conditioning function.

Road Trip Driving Habits

Adapting your driving habits can also play a crucial role in extending your EV’s range.

  • Use eco mode: Most EVs offer an eco, or efficiency, mode that optimizes vehicle settings for maximum efficiency. Use this mode, which calms down throttle response and sometimes can limit top speed, to conserve energy.
  • Smooth driving: Maintain a steady speed, and avoid sudden acceleration or deceleration to be more energy-efficient. Using cruise control or other autonomous driving features also help make your drive less fatiguing.

Reduce Emissions and Travel Time

Driving an EV on a road trip doesn’t just reduce emissions, but also helps with the road tripping experience as well. I’ve even noticed that when arriving at my destination in an electric car, I’m usually less fatigued thanks to an EV’s quiet ride, and having to get out every couple hours to plug in and walk around.

With proper planning, an EV road trip can show you a different route than you would have taken previously. By optimizing your route, intelligently managing charging stops, and making minor adjustments to your driving habits, you can maximize efficiency and enjoy a smooth, uninterrupted journey.

Whether you’re a seasoned EV traveler or planning your first journey, these strategies will help you travel farther, faster, and more efficient.

Front view of a Tesla Model 3 driving through canyon roads

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