EV range anxiety is in the mind. That’s essentially what we found on our roughly 4,500-mile road trip in a Tesla Model 3 Long Range rented from Hertz, in which we traveled through some of the wildest parts of the Northwest searching for America’s fastest and most reliable cellular network.
Charging involves a different mentality than fueling a gas car, as we discovered on the road. With gas, you pretty much assume there’s always a station within a few miles, so you can fuel up when you’re low.
With chargers, it’s different. Especially on the longer legs, our drivers would periodically stop for 15 to 30 minutes just to top off and stretch their legs.
On the road, we also sought out hotels with their own chargers. Sometimes, that worked out; sometimes, it didn’t.
“Access to the destination chargers was a mixed bag for me,” driver Chloe Albanesius says. “In Phoenix, they were first-come, first-served and I think one was designated for the valet. They were both occupied by the same two Teslas the whole time I was there, so I used the (very busy) Supercharger. In Vegas, it was all handled by valet and very easy. I pulled up, they asked if I wanted them to charge it, and I got it back the next day fully charged.”
Our driver Angela Moscaritolo gave an in-depth rundown of her first time piloting a Tesla. She pointed out that you can’t always fill up the ‘tank’ the whole way. “During my road trip, I encountered several ‘high-usage’ Supercharger stations, where Tesla caps your max charge level to 80%. Watch out for idling fees at high-usage stations; one time, I incurred a $7 charge for staying at one for too long,” she writes.
The EV portion of our testing route for Best Mobile Networks 2022
(Image: Sascha Segan)
Danger: Low Voltage
Tesla’s own Supercharger network was key to managing this road trip. We sought out Superchargers with 150kW power or greater, the only ones able to “fuel up” the car fast enough for us to stay on schedule on long rural drives: They delivered 10x the speed, or more, compared with the lower-voltage CCS or Chargepoint chargers we came across. It became clear to us, pretty quickly, that either you find a 150kw charger, or you’ll be charging overnight.
Many of our Supercharger top-ups lasted 15-30 minutes, although we rarely filled the battery back to 100%. Ten minutes at a shopping center in Laytonville, CA using a 150kW charger gave us 20% of our battery; 25 minutes at the Glendale Galleria mall on a 250kW charger gave us 58% more battery. Most of the Superchargers we found were at shopping centers or our hotels, letting us stroll and grab a bite to eat while we filled up, or go to sleep and wake up with the car fully charged. The Tesla directs you to chargers as part of its tablet user interface, and it’s wise to assume that you should plan charges into any long trip.
Other networks are hustling to get up to Tesla’s standards. PlugShare(Opens in a new window) has the best search engine for non-Tesla high-wattage chargers, and while there are many 120kW+ chargers in metro areas, the options across our specific route in rural Idaho and northern California were thinner than Tesla’s.
Taking It Home
Our trip was extreme. Very few people drive anywhere near the Tesla Model 3 LR’s stated limit of 358 miles in a day. But the range anxiety concept isn’t just about your daily commute; it’s also about those occasional drives for vacations or to see family, which can hold people back from buying electric cars.
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Most people’s daily drives fall under the 110-mile range of the electric Mini Cooper SE(Opens in a new window), and most people charge at home. According to a 2022 report from Chargepoint, 80% of charging occurs at home(Opens in a new window), not at public charging stations. ChargePoint says the average electric car driver hits a public fast charger just six times a year.
According to a 2018 report (Opens in a new window)from StreetlightData, the state with the longest median roundtrip commute was Maine, where people in general commute about 20 miles round-trip per day. Double that by adding trips to the soccer field and grocery store, and you’re still hard-pressed to push more than 50 miles. According to Cox Automotive’s analysis of rental vehicles, most of those are driven no more than 60 miles per day.
Even in the most extreme-commute circumstances, we’re still well below the range of modern electric vehicles. The least-expensive new electric car available in America, the 2023 Chevy Bolt(Opens in a new window), has a 259-mile range that exceeds even the commute distance for the five most extreme-commute rural zip codes in the StreetlightData study.
If you’re looking for flexibility and affordable fueling on the road, you may still want a hybrid—even a plug-in hybrid for the best of both worlds. But at this point, we really need to get over charging anxiety and move toward broader EV adoption.
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Source By https://www.pcmag.com/opinions/are-we-at-the-end-of-electric-vehicle-range-anxiety