Electric Car Road Trip Causes Angst For Chevy Bolt Owner

Dawn Hall is a Chevy Bolt owner who lives in San Jose, California. She commutes about 100 miles a day in her electric car and occasionally makes detours to visit family members as well. That can add another 60 miles to her daily mileage total. Charging her Bolt overnight takes care of all her daily needs with plenty of margin for error. In general, she likes the Bolt, likes that the electricity to keep it charged costs less than gasoline, and likes that she is helping to keep carbon dioxide emissions out of the atmosphere.

But owning an electric car is not all peaches and cream. On a recent 800 mile road trip, Hall had to spend hours more on the road in order to find and connect to chargers and the total cost of electricity — including parking charges at some locations — was more than what she would have spent for gasoline for the same trip in a conventional car.

Chevy Bolt electric car

In short, being away from her home charger turned owning an electric car into a frustrating, stress inducing nightmare, one she has no desire to repeat. In a report for Green Car Reports, Hall recounts how she had to make her trip longer in order to connect to available charging stations along the way. She also had to open an EVgo account because her ChargePoint membership did not come with charging stations where she needed them.

Her experience taught her that prior planning is essential to a successful all electric road trip — something that drivers of conventional cars never have to consider. She also noticed differences between charging companies. EVgo chargers seemed to charge her battery more quickly than ChargePoint equipment, but the EVgo chargers shut off automatically after 30 minutes. At $9.95 per charging session, that meant she had to spend nearly $20 to get an 80% charge for her Bolt.

To add insult to injury, one EVgo charger she used with no problem once in her trip worked much more slowly on the way home. Most of the ChargePoint and EVgo chargers were not able to charge at the 80 kW maximum the Bolt is capable of.

The story is one fraught with tales of crawling around unfamiliar and darkened industrial areas late at night looking for ChargePoint chargers that were either inside locked parking garages or located in lots that charged exorbitant parking fees. As a result, she spent far too much time crawling from one low power charger to another to get a few more miles up the road. Once she watched videos on her smartphone for two hours late at night while her car was charging.

The point is that with the exception of Tesla — which has a comprehensive system of high power chargers located along most major routes in locations that are specifically intended to make a single woman feel comfortable using even at night — the electric car charging infrastructure in America is so poor that owning an electric car means needing a gas powered vehicle as well for those times when longer trips away from home are necessary. No wonder Americans are cool to the idea of owning an electric car and prefer plug-in hybrids instead.


Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.