5 Tips for a Holiday Road Trip in an Electric Vehicle

Tesla Model S, photographed in Switzerland by James Lipman // jameslipman.com

Source: Tesla

Family road trips to visit the relatives or take a vacation are common during the holidays, and maybe this year you are planning to take your electric vehicle. Between the Kia Soul EV (93 miles), 2016 Nissan Leaf (107 miles), and Tesla Model S70D (240 miles), plug-in car drivers have viable options when you traveling longer distances in the colder months.

Unfortunately, highway travel and cold weather are both sources of EV battery drain, which will make a road trip tougher than it would be in a gas car. Of course, “easier” is often not the point when choosing an electric vehicle over a fuel-burning polluter. Knowing how some people refuse to compromise on green transportation, we collected some things you can do to make the trip to grandma’s or Disney World as smooth as can be.

Here are five tips for your holiday road trip in an electric vehicle.

1. Get your charge accounts in order

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AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSEN

Looking at your route, you may find charge stations that will come in handy from a provider previously not on your radar. If stopping at these points would make your trip easier, consider signing up for an account, if only on a temporary basis. Obviously, any station offering DC fast charging would be huge on a holiday trip and help you avoid extended periods of juicing your battery. Whatever your plan, make sure you have easy access to the apps on your phone and have tested using each one before you leave.

2. Know what to expect at each station

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Source: Ford

On top of having multiple charge station accounts, be prepared to stop at specific stations. Choose the ideal ones based on the number of chargers and the reviews drivers have left in the past. On ChargePoint and PlugShare apps, these reviews give you a summary of activity at the station in question. Since some EV drivers prefer to stay silent on quality stations they have discovered, you cannot rule out a certain spot on your route. Always have a preferred station along with a backup plan in mind for each region.

3. Heat your car efficiently

DC Fast Charge BMW i3 VW e-golf

Source: BMW

Like air conditioning in the summer, heating an EV in winter is a source of battery drain. There are several ways to heat an electric vehicle efficiently. Before you unplug from a charge point, get the car heated on the station’s power. Once you and your family members get inside the car, you can turn down the settings and get a boost from body heat. Another alternative is using the heated seats available in models like the Kia Soul EV. When a couple is driving alone, this option may allow you to forego using the heat and save energy.

4. Stay close to the speed limit

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Source: Volkswagen

The normal rules of speed versus time spent driving are not the same in an electric vehicle, so try to go against your instincts and restrain yourself in highway driving. As you drive faster, more battery power disappears, meaning you have to charge more often than you would driving at the speed limit or below. Steady wins the race here and may be the difference between stopping that last time and avoiding a charge station entirely. While higher holiday stress levels may affect your rate of acceleration and top speed, try to stay cool.

5. Pack light

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Source: Nissan

Packing lightly will help you get more out of each battery charge when are driving an EV. Though it may be difficult to keep luggage down when you are carrying presents or have the golf clubs along for a holiday run on the links, limiting your travel bags will pay off. Remember that you have the option to ship gifts to any address when you order something online. Rather than carrying gifts with you when you visit relatives, consider sending them ahead and wrapping them once you arrive. Your EV battery will thank you.

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