• Sat. May 25th, 2024

I’ve road-tripped 18,000 miles in an EV. Here are 5 things that surprised me


Jun 12, 2023
I've road-tripped 18,000 miles in an EV. Here are 5 things that surprised me


Gia Mora and her partner can charge their
electric car for free at Electrify America stations.
Gia Morris
  • Gia Mora bought the Hyundai Ioniq 5, an EV with a 250-mile range, to reduce her need to fly.
  • She and her partner have traveled 18,000 miles in the electric car on multiple road trips. 
  • Morris was surprised by how temperature affects charging times and how often she charges at Walmart.

When I decided I would fly only once every three years for environmental reasons in 2021, my main concern was how to tackle long-distance travel.

My partner and I live in Los Angeles, but my family is in Colorado, and my adventurous other half fretted over the limitations on our holidays.

We compromised last June when we traded in our hybrid SUV for the all-electric Hyundai Ioniq 5. With its fast-charging 350-kilowatt battery and 250-mile range, the Ioniq 5 allows us to travel long distances for a third of the emissions of our hybrid. 

We paid the sticker price of $54,000, before the $7,500 federal rebate. 

Our first EV excursion to Scottsdale, Arizona, from L.A. was a success. We’ve since gone to San Diego, visited family in Colorado, and did a mountain-bike road trip through Nevada, Utah, and New Mexico, racking up over 18,000 miles. 

The Ioniq 5 also came with two years of free charging at any Electrify America charging station — the largest public-charging network in the country. 

We can charge the car at any station or at home, but we plan around Electrify America locations. We only charged somewhere else three times last year. According to the Electrify America app, it’s saved us over $2,600 in fees. 

Initially, I was skeptical about owning an electric car, let alone road-tripping in one. Fears of long charging times at isolated stations or getting stranded with a dead battery are enough to stop anyone from switching to electric.

A year after purchase, I’m sold on long-range EVs.

Here are four things people should know if they’re planning to travel long distances in an EV.

Plotting out charging is a breeze

Because charging stations aren’t as ubiquitous as gas stations, traveling long distances in an electric vehicle requires more planning than a traditional road trip.

The Electrify America app makes finding and getting directions to chargers easy. Plus, it’s compatible with Apple Maps and Hyundai’s Car Play system, so we can view the route on our dashboard display.  

We arrange to fill up at an Electrify America station every 150 miles or so. The network offers 3,500 fast chargers at 800 stations in 47 states. 

We’ve never had trouble finding a station and never had to drive more than a mile or two off a major highway to access one.

If we are driving on a Sunday afternoon, we build extra time into our plans, because that’s when charging stations are the busiest. 

In all our travels, we’ve only encountered one situation when we had to wait 20 minutes for an open charger. With proper preparation, we can avoid charging during peak hours and reduce any delays to our adventures. 

It’s faster to travel long distances in the summer in an EV 

EVs are the opposite of gas cars when it comes to temperature regulation. All electric cars, including the Ioniq 5, use more energy to heat than to cool.

That’s why EVs experience range loss in colder weather. By our estimates, the Ioniq 5 travels about 15% fewer miles on the same charge in the cold as it does in the heat. It also drastically affects charging times. 

In moderate temperatures, with the 350-kilowatt Hyper-Fast chargers, the Ioniq 5 can go from 10% to 80% charged in under 20 minutes. But on days when the temperature falls below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, it can take as long as 30 or 35 minutes.

Because we charge so frequently, the distance we can cover in a day isn’t affected by the cold, but it does mean that we have to be prepared to spend more time waiting for the car to charge.

Conversely, cooling the Ioniq 5 has very little effect on range and charge time.

Last summer in the Phoenix heat, it only took an extra minute or so to reach full charge, and it’s much more comfortable to wait 20 minutes in air-conditioning than it is to spend five minutes outside in 100-degree temperatures filling up at the gas pump. 

I gained a newfound appreciation for Walmart

Walmart plays a bigger role in our road-tripping than I ever anticipated.

The vast majority of our charging stops are at one of the 280 Walmart and Sam’s Club locations that host Electrify America and EVgo stations. 

I feel safe charging in Walmart’s well-lit parking lots, even at night. While charging, we can use the sparkling-clean restrooms or take advantage of the store’s extended operating hours to grab any necessities. 

It felt like a serious upgrade from grungy gas-station toilets and limited convenience stores typical of highway pit stops. 

Last month, Walmart announced plans to quadruple its network of chargers. Since 90% of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart, this expanded infrastructure could make road-tripping easier and make EV adoption accessible to more people.

More remote charging stations can be adventures in themselves

Plenty of charging stations look exactly as you’d expect, but when we ventured outside of major metropolitan areas, we discovered some unique stops. 

Green River, Utah, is home to 847 people, one Tesla Supercharger, and four Electrify America stations located beside the tiny, quirky Green River Coffee Company. A painting of the establishment’s mascot — a scraggly but disarming vulture holding a steaming cup of coffee — keeps watch over the chargers which are available for use 24/7.

One night just outside of Yosemite National Park, we pulled in to charge at a small lodge. Seeking respite from the rain and a public restroom, we went into the Lucky Buck Cafe. 

The locals at the bar welcomed us and were delighted when I sat in with the live guitarist to sing a few country classics.

Road-tripping in the Ioniq 5 is enjoyable 

Despite any challenges, road-tripping along the Electrify America network in our Ioniq 5 is an enjoyable option compared to costly airline tickets and pollution. 

With more charging infrastructure on the horizon, I’m excited to see more people opting for all-electric travel plans.

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