Road Trippin’

I’ve wanted to take a solo cross-country road trip for some time. And getting an EV this year gave me the motivation finally to make it happen. My partner Mary encouraged me to do it; she is a wonderful partner in so many ways. So, at 6:54 PDT on June 5, I set out on a near-10,000 mile road trip, mostly to see family and make images, but also to see if America is really EV-ready. More to come.

Day 1

Day 1 is in the books. Three easy charging stops. What a superb car. Although I used ABRP for planning, I used the built-in nav for basic guidance, while running Waze in the background for audio alerts. At one point, in the middle of the Mojave desert, my car went full blonde on me and wanted to send me backwards to charge, even though the destination charger still appeared on the nav screen. I’d probably prefer that to happen somewhere other than the Mojave, but it was quickly corrected once I pulled over and confirmed on ABRP where I thought the next EA charger was. Other than that, the nav was fantastic. Amazing car.

Day 2

After a nice dinner and night in Kingman AZ, I hit the road early and headed into New Mexico  Charging f continued to be readily accessible and successful  

Day 3 

Heading into a bit of a charging desert today on the way from Tucumcari to the DFW area, so topping her up.

1. No consumption data for Day 3. I failed to make a record of it, and Short Term Memory was automatically reset when I fired up the car on Day 4. On average, a full 10-12 hour day of driving—covering roughly between 500-600 miles—is requiring 3 charging stops. If I can get to 100% SOC, I will, but 90 and 95 are more typical.

2. I had my first negative experience charging. Coming out of Tucumcari, NM on I40 and heading through Amarillo, there are essentially two ways for an EV to go to the DFW area. The “safe” and longer way is to proceed due east to OKC, and then drop down to DFW. There is more robust charging along that route.

The second way is to take the diagonal from Amarillo toward DFW with a single charging stop in Lawton OK. The route planning showed getting to Lawton with about 25 miles of range remaining. And I did. Arrived with 26 miles. At a Hilton Garden Inn there, there is an 8-station charging plaza operated by Francis EV, a company focused on expanding EV charging in rural areas. That’s a good thing. We need that. But . . . I could not get a single charger to work. Some would fail at initialization, while others would operate for one minute and then shut off. This was, to put it mildly, a problem. I had insufficient range to reach any other charger, including Tesla destination chargers (I have the adapter), of which there were none in the area. Note to self: don’t plan a route in a charging desert that has you arriving at <10% SOC anywhere.

Short of renting a room and using an extension cord to charge the car painfully slowly, I was running out of options. A Tesla driver came by and used one of the chargers with no problem. He advised that the stations were very reliable for him. So, I went back to working on solving the problem. Could it be the 800v platform was too much for the chargers? That didn’t really make sense. I called Francis support a second time. They were very nice and were genuinely trying to solve the problem, having remotely rebooted two of the chargers, and escalated my problem quickly through their tech support. One person suggested I download their app rather than use a credit card to pay for charging. Their app is the white label EVGateway. I didn’t really want another app—but it would be handy at the next scheduled charging stop as well if I was able to get underway—but I did that, created an account, and initiated a charging session. And voila! It worked just fine. I went and got some lunch and let the 50kW charger chug its way to 90% SOC.

The rest of the trip into DFW was uneventful. The app worked fine at the next charging stop. When I got to the Fort Worth area, I discovered that it also had lots of 50kW (and less) chargers. There are 350 EA stations 50 miles or so outside the DFW area to the east and south, but none coming from where I was, and none close enough to my daughter’s house. I’m staying there for a few days and so am learning to top up frequently from these puny chargers and trickle overnight each night in her garage.

3. The Integrated Toll Module has been great. It has worked on every toll road so far with the lone exception of DFW airport, where I dropped a family member on Day 5. It’s possible that if I had waited for longer than 30 seconds, the toll gate would have recognized the ITM, but I already knew airport parking garages are more hit & miss, and the line behind me was starting to back up. So I just punched the button for a ticket and paid manually.

4. As mentioned, there is a fair bit of 50kW charging capacity here in DFW. It’s mostly EVGo. And each one I have used has delivered consistently 36-45kW. Makes for leisurely lunches or early coffee.

5. When I leave here on Day 9, my first stop will be at an EA 350 station in Ennis. ABRP now has me taking a more southerly route than before, where I will have good access to HPCs into Hammond, LA for an overnight stay and on into southern Alabama and middle Georgia the next day.

The car remains excellent.

 Day 9

After a wonderful visit with Daughter #3 and family (and Daughter #4, who happened to be visiting), I am back on the road. ABRP had originally routed me straight east out of the DFW area, but when updating the plan, the app suggested a southerly route. This route appears to have more reliable and accessible 350kW chargers. I’ll get into Hammond LA in time for dinner. Maybe some crawfish. 

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