Electric Road Trip



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Sunday December 25, 2022 Electric Road Trip I did my first road trip in the Mach-e this week.  My wife and I traveled from our home in the San Fernando valley to Laughlin, NV to visit friends in Bullhead City, AZ.  From home to the hotel in Laughlin was 288 miles with our friends home just across the river about 5 miles away.  

I started out planning the trip using A Better Route Planner (ABRP) and Plugshare. Both showed that I needed just one stop in Barstow (based on 180 miles of range for long trips at freeway speeds). The stop in Barstow was at the Walmart but when I looked at it on Plugshare there was a note that the site would be out of service starting Nov 29, 2022 for a site upgrade. I found an alternative site at the outlet mall in Barstow (Chargepoint) but this would require a second stop and I found one in Essex about 58 miles from my final destination. Fortunately I checked back the day before departure and found that while the message about the service outage still showed on Plugshare, several people had checked in as charging OK at the Walmart site so I decided to try that.

I left with a 100% charge. It was cold for Los Angeles with the temp reading 53F. Start up range showed 242 miles which is lower than the 250 - 260 I am used to seeing.

From our home in the San Fernando Valley to Walmart was 128 miles and I made the trip without hitting any major traffic keeping speed between 65 and 75. When I arrived at the stop 8 of the 9 chargers were in use and I pulled into the unused one between a Mach-e Mustang and a F 150 Lightning. I went to plug in but found that it was out of service. Luckily the people in the Mach-e told me they were almost finished and when they moved I was able to plug in OK.

I didn't have to do anything else, charging started automatically so my wife and I heading to the Burger King in Walmart and had some lunch. By the time we were finished eating I had enough range showing to get me to Laughlin with about a 40 mile buffer. We were using a 150KW charger and added 38.762 kWh in 40 minutes.

Back on the road I again kept the speed at around 75mph using Blue Cruise which makes for a much more comfortable drive. Then things started to go bad. We hit a long uphill climb, not steep but a steady climb for many miles. The 40 mile buffer soon became a 30 mile buffer and was dropping steadily. My wife had been watching the range display drop and began to get worried. In the end I pulled over and added the chargers in Essex to our route.

In Essex the stop is at Najah's Desert Oasis which is basically a rest stop for gas and there is also a convenience store and restroom. There are 4 Electrify America chargers there two 150KW and two 350KW; all were available. I grabbed the first charger, one of the 150 KW chargers, and plugged in. Once again the system worked flawlessly and after 25 minutes of charging I had added 28.315 kWh giving me more than enough to get to Laughlin.

There are only a few chargers in Laughlin, all level 2. Of the 9 casinos only 5 have chargers. As far as I can tell, there are no chargers at all in Bullhead City across the river. We were staying at the Aquarious and they had two chargers, one Level 2 J1776 and one Tesla charger. The Tesla charger was marked as Tesla Vehicles only. I was worried that the J 1772 would be in use but I only saw one other EV the two days we were there and that was a Tesla. I was able to get a full charge before we left.

The trip home was the reverse of the trip out. I stopped at Njah's for a quick boost spending 20 minutes to add 13.064 kWh.

The drive back to Barstow had one event where I had to take control from Blue Cruise. I was passing a truck on I-40 when it suddenly swerved into my lane almost side swiping me. There was a bit of a cross wind at the time so maybe that was why but I had to grab the wheel and swing onto the shoulder to avoid getting hit.

About 3 miles out from the Walmart I got a low battery notification but the reported battery level was 27% so no big deal. There were plenty of Electrify America chargers available when we arrived at Walmart and I was able to initiate charging at one of the 2 chargers right in front of the store. Once again we went into Walmart and grabbed something to eat and then did a little bit of shopping. That took us 1 hour and we had added 52.072 kWh when we got back to the car.

From Barstow we again hit 1-40 to 1-15 but from Victorville the NAV system routed us across the desert to Palmdale which was on 55mph roads with some stretches of 65mph and others at 45mph. We had a slight delay getting onto I-14 due to a multi-car pileup but once we got passed that it was clear sailing. Even though the new route added 28 miles to the drive back, the slower drive across the desert linked with warmer temperature, around 72F, meant we arrived home with a little over 100 miles of range showing.

The EA chargers worked flawlessly on this trip but having to stop in Essex both ways soured my wife on travelling with the EV and she has declared that next time we make the trip we will take her car (ICE). That may change by the time we are ready to go again.

This trip showed how low temperatures and speed can impact the range on battery electric vehicles. It also showed me that long distance travel is possible but we still need more charger options especially destination chargers at hotels.


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