You’ve finally got your hands on a new electric car. Adventure awaits. But before you charge up and set off into the sunset, there’s a few things you’ll need to do to get the most out of your trip.
There’s a myth out there that electric cars aren’t good for long road trips. They can be, as long as you plan it right. As with any major trip, it’s good to have the basics in place before you leave.
How can you make your next road trip easy, electric… and epic?
1. Plan your route
Probably a bit of a no-brainer, but it’s always a smart idea to know when and where you’re going to stop to charge up next. More and more charging stations are popping up across Australia every month, so you’ll never be too far from a source of power.
We recommend checking out sites like PlugShare, NRMA and Google Maps to map out your journey and ensure you’ve got enough charge between stops. PlugShare is also a good source of truth to whether a charging station is up and running, or not.
And last but not least, make sure you download these apps before you head off! The last thing you want is to be running out of “juice” and having no reception to be able to download and search for the nearest charging station.
2. Know the different types of charging stations
Not all electric vehicle charging stations are the same. In fact, there are three tiers of chargers that offer different charging speeds.
Level one is the slowest charger type (think plugging straight into a wall socket). If you plug your vehicle into this type of charger, you’d be looking to charge from 0% to 100% in between 30 to 50 hours, depending on your vehicle’s battery size.
Level two is the most common type of charger, and is typically installed in homes, apartment complexes, workplaces, and shopping centres. A charge from 0% to 100% at one of these charger types will take anywhere from 2 to 6 hours.
Level 3, also known as Direct Current (DC) Fast Chargers is the fastest option to get back on the road. Costs and charging speeds can vary, but if you’re charging from a DC charging station, it’ll normally take between 30 and 50 minutes for a full charge.
3. Drive in a way that maximises your range
While one of the main joys of your electric car will be the rapid acceleration, putting your foot down constantly is a quick way to drain your battery. Driving at a constant highway speed of around 100-110km/h may result in a lower than average range, due to the manufacturers estimates being based around a 45%/55% mix of both city and highway driving (the usual drive for the average Australian).
But there’s a few things you can do to really stretch it out. Since everything in an electric vehicle runs off the main battery, minimising unnecessary battery use can help to extend the range. This includes going easy on the accelerator, using regenerative braking to slow down, and avoiding the use of the heater and air conditioner whenever possible.
Another way to really maximise your range is to “top up” your battery whenever you stop for an activity or meal break. Many charging stations are located in shopping centres, near restaurants, and even at local wineries, so it makes sense to charge whilst you stop for a bite to eat.
4. Book EV-friendly accommodation
As the number of electric vehicles increases across the country, so too does home charging stations in hotels, holiday rentals, and caravan parks. Accommodation providers such as Airbnb are now starting to allow customers to filter their searches to only include options that have an EV charging station.
Charging overnight at your accommodation is a great way to ensure you’re ready to go every morning to keep the costs down on your trip.
Airbnb now allows its customers to filter to show only accommodation that has the capability to charge an electric vehicle.
Make sure you pack your Type 1 charging cable (nicknamed the “granny” cable), so you can plug straight into the wall socket, and/or a Type 2 charging cable if the accommodation has a faster smart home charger.
5. Have a plan B in place
A good little tip to remember on any road trip is that things may not always go to plan, and that’s ok! Travelling with an electric car allows you to get creative whilst you’re charging. Travellers over the past few years have been mapping out their routes so while their car is sitting in town or nearby charging, they are out exploring.
Given the average charge time on these public stations may vary, the few hours it takes to make it to full battery is the perfect time to be out hiking the nearby mountains or reading up on the history of the town you have landed yourself in. Who knows, you may find yourself in your new favourite getaway spot!
And if you get stuck, there’s always NRMA Roadside Assistance at hand.