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June 12 2019

Driving an EV Long Distance is Easy!

By Jennifer Roberts

Lately, I have been listening to a lot of conversation about the ups and downs of electric vehicles.  I have had a Tesla Model 3 for about 2 months, and it has been nice to be able to avoid inhaling the fumes at gas stations and to simply plug my car into my carport outlet at night. It has great pick-up, is very quiet, and handles well.  Recently I have read new information from the scientists who are debunking myths that the fossil fuel industry would like people to believe. (One myth says that EV’s are still bad if they get their electricity from areas that are served by coal plants: not true. The carbon footprint of driving your EV is still less than a gasoline powered car, even if your electric grid is fueled by coal.)

But I really wanted to test the myth that it is inconvenient and takes forever to drive long distance, beyond your vehicle’s charging range. For my vehicle, that range is 295 miles.  I decided to drive to ecoAmerica’s DC office from my home base in Charlotte, NC, a distance of 400 miles. So I started out with my battery charged up for about 250 miles at 2:45 pm on a Monday.

When I plugged my destination into the map on my vehicle computer/dashboard, it automatically calculated when I would need to stop to re-charge, located the charger, and routed me to the location of the charger.  Sure enough, I had about 80 miles in my battery charge when I pulled up to the South Hill VA location, very near the i-85 exit ramp, and found 6 charging stations nestled behind a restaurant. If it had been dinner time I could have grabbed a bite to eat while waiting, but instead I read some email, walked across the street to a convenience store for a soda, and left in 45 minutes with a full charge.

Charging stations in South Hill VA

I arrived in DC without incident and with about 75 miles left on my battery. I could have driven into the city and my final destination then, making my total trip less than 7 hours, but decided to re-charge first, so I could leave later in the week with a full charge. There are a number of superchargers in the DC area, so it was not hard to find one to “fill up” before heading home at the end of the week. I found one at the Springfield Mall in Northern Virginia with 18 charging stations (!) and then grabbed a quick dinner before arriving in DC at 10:15 pm.

So here is my answer to those who say they cannot buy an electric vehicle because it will be impossible for them to drive long distances: yes, you can!  It was convenient, safe, clean, and easy for me to drive past the vehicle’s range without putting any significant delay in my arrival.  I saved by not flying, and I had an entire week of zero or low carbon emissions!

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