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Electric Car Battery Lifespan: Everything You Need to Know

Electric car batteries can cost thousands of dollars… so how long will they last?

The answer may surprise you, and it could be even more important to know when shopping for used electric vehicles.

What Causes Batteries to Degrade Over Time?

Battery health and battery range are often used to measure the effectiveness of electric car batteries and how they perform. 

Battery range is generally not guaranteed by the manufacturer and can vary drastically based on battery health, environment, driving habits, etc.

On the other hand, battery health or capacity is generally how manufacturers determine if the battery is degrading. 

Charge cycles, environment, and time all contribute to battery degradation over time.

Charge Cycles

The more you charge and discharge the battery, the more it will degrade over time. 

Fast charging can cause even more stress on the battery. This is why manufacturers recommend against unnecessary rapid charging over time. 

Also, letting the battery drop to 0% (or close) and then charging all the way up to 100% will put extra strain on the battery.

Temperature and Environment

Charging at extreme cold or hot temperatures can lead to excessive degradation on electric car batteries over time, and in some cases can void your battery warranty. 

Tesla recommends avoiding temperatures above 60 degrees Celsius or below -30 degrees Celsius for more than 24 hours at a time.  It is even more important to avoid charging the battery for long durations in extremely warm temperatures, if possible.   

Batteries Degrade Over Time

Calendar aging is a common degradation process for Li-ion batteries.  While various types of batteries age over time at different rates, all batteries will degrade over time. 

Environmental conditions like humidity or temperature impact how rapidly the battery health drops over time.  Li-ion batteries generally lose most life early on, and then continue to lose capacity gradually going forward. 

How Long does an Electric Car Battery Last?

Now, knowing that all electric car batteries degrade over time, what do we know about how long EV car batteries last? The real world data we have on EVs is still relatively new, but we know they can last a very long time. 

There are many accounts of people reporting electric vehicles with over 100,000 miles with less than 10% degradation. 

The chart below shows how a Tesla Model S/X battery degrades based on distance driven.

electric_car_battery_lifespan_by_distance_driven

On average, many EVs today can go over 120,000 miles with a 10% or less reduction in battery health.  Some drivers have reported only 2% loss in battery capacity after 50,000 miles driven.

Electric Driver estimates the average person drives 13,476 miles per year.  So, the average person may drive for almost 9 years to accumulate 120,000 miles and see that 10% degradation. 

There are some reported instances of EVs with over 200,000 miles and only seeing a slight battery degradation of around 6%.

Get More Life out of Your EV Battery

Avoid charging or storing in extreme heatExtreme heat takes its toll on lithium-ion batteries and is why many electric cars are equipped with liquid-cooled battery packs. If possible, store your vehicle in a location that does not exceed 70 degrees F, especially while charging. 

Limit fast or rapid charging Excessive use of level 3 charging can cause additional degradation due to how it heats up the battery when charging. But, the impacts on the battery from fast charging is difficult to measure, and varies by the amount of charge cycles.

Avoid depleting battery completely and charging to 100% – Never allow the battery to fully discharge. Regularly depleting most of a battery’s charge will degrade the battery more over time.  Overcharging, or charging to 100% capacity consistently also leads to faster degradation.

Battery Technology is ImprovingMost EVs have some form of protection to help you maintain your battery and avoid overstressing the battery.  For example, not allowing the battery to reach 100% charge, and warnings to prevent battery from dropping to 0%.

Electric Car Battery Warranties

To provide assurance and peace of mind for buyers, the federal government mandates that manufacturers offer a minimum of an 8-year/100,000-mile warranty on batteries. Tesla offers an 8 years/150,000-mile warranty on the Model S and Model X. Hyundai offers lifetime coverage.

Many of these warranties only guarantee a battery capacity retention of 70%, so will generally only apply to the rare defects or uncharacteristic degradation.

When will I have to replace the battery in my EV?

You can expect your electric car’s battery to last well over 100,000 miles, if you properly care for your battery, until range might start to become a problem for you. 

Many factors will determine how quickly the battery degrades, but many drivers have gotten several years out of their electric vehicles without paying a cent for gas. 

The odds of your battery failing are extremely rare.  Only about 1% of EV Lithium-ion batteries experience premature failures

How Much Do Electric Car Batteries Cost?

The battery in an electric car is likely the most expensive component of the vehicle.  The cost to replace an EV battery will generally range between $7,000 and $20,000 but is highly dependent on the vehicle. 

The good news is that Li-ion batteries are becoming cheaper every year.  Batteries are priced based on $/kWh, and since 2010, we’ve seen about a 90% drop in cost, and that is expected to continue with an expected cost of $70 kWh by 2050.

electric car batteries cost
Li-ion battery costs have decreased over time

The future is bright for electric car batteries.  Battery technology and protection will only continue to improve, and range and capacity continues to increase. As the affordability of li-ion batteries continues to improve, look for battery ranges to increase as well. Tesla is working on the 1-million-mile battery and  Lucid has announced their 500-mile battery.

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Driving Electric Cars Electric Car Charging

EV Charging Troubles Road on a Long Road Trip

A friend of mine was kind enough to share a road trip where he ran into all kinds of adversity. I hope you find it entertaining and insightful.

the One thing that I do after buying a new car is to take it on a long road trip. So, having recently bought a new electric car (an Audi e-Tron and my first pure BEV), I looked forward to taking it on our annual trip from Southern California to Lake Tahoe, a journey of 470 miles. In preparation for this trip, I planned charging stops using the PlugShare site. To ensure that the trip would go without a hitch (as we would be traveling through sparsely populated areas), I planned for various scenarios several times and even installed the app on my phone. I especially looked forward to this trip as it would allow me to both tests the experience of using an EV for a long drive and the state of the charging infrastructure.

On a hot late-July summer evening my teenage son and I started this trip with about 70% charge. I drove the first leg and our planned first charging stop was about 70 miles away. It went almost as planned and we were able to use the Electrify America station without too much trouble (we did have to switch to a different charger after the first one didn’t work). Twenty minutes later we were on our way. Our next stop was about 2 hours away. My teenage son drove in typical impatient teenager fashion and we were making good time.

By the time we pulled into the Electrify America station, it was around 9 PM and dark already. The desolate station was on an abandoned gas station in the middle of nowhere and the dusty road was only partially paved. As we parked, the red “Charger Unavailable” text on all four chargers made my heart sink.  Using the PlugShare app, I was informed that CalTrans has installed a free charger in the adjacent rest stop (yes!). We drove a few hundred yards to use that high-speed (50 kWh) charger. As we plugged in, the charger would not start. Unplugging and retrying several times yielded the same result. At this point, my stress level was starting to rise.

“Ok, let me call the Electrify America customer service,” I thought to myself.  Luckily someone answered promptly, and a cheerful voice asked how my day was going. After initial pleasantries, I told her the problem with the Electrify America chargers not working, and she helpfully offered to reboot all the chargers. I nervously waited as the machines rebooted through the DOS-like blue screen with white text. A few breathless moments later, the familiar plug-in prompt appeared on the screens. With high hopes, I plugged in as I remained on the phone. Shortly thereafter, the dreaded error screen reappeared, and again and again as I tried all the chargers. After rebooting the machines again and retrying, the service rep told me she didn’t know what the issue was and asked me to look up the closest charger that I could get to with my PlugShare app. I told her that would be about 25 miles of backtrack.  Then she apologized that she couldn’t help me any further and offered a free charging session next time.

So we took the only option left at this point and drove 25 miles back the way we came. This charger belonged to the ChargePoint network and was located in a dimly lit gas station closed for the night, again practically in the middle of nowhere. With a deep sense of dread, I scanned my ChargePoint app, and it prompted me to plugin. Fingers crossed, I plugged in.  Nothing happened: no powering up noise, no charging in progress display. At this point, I was on the verge of panic and about to soil my pants. In one last desperate attempt to charge up, I tried the level 2 charger right next to the 50 kWh charger. After plugging in, I was ecstatic to see the charging in progress display.  That feeling soon dissipated as I realized at this rate, we would need about 8 hours to accumulate enough charge to get to the next planned Electrify America station 123 miles away. But at least we were charging, and stress turned to annoyance.

Let’s try to make the best of this time, we convinced ourselves. Since neither of us was sleepy, we decided to watch Netflix to pass the time (thankfully there was still a reasonable cell signal). After watching our favorite classic sci-fi (Terminator 2) in the arid 90-degree heat, we waxed philosophical and had discussions on different topics for hours (and cheering every time we noticed another 10 miles of range added). I grew drowsy and took a nap as my son watched another movie. Catching glimpses of the near-full moon illuminating thick clouds, I drifted in and out of consciousness as it uncharacteristically drizzled lightly in the high desert.

Slowly but gradually, the sky brightened ever so slightly. Eventually, the eastern expanse turned a drab orange shade, and we went outside to stretch and use the restroom. Two cars pulled into the parking lot, and we chatted with the families—they were on their way camping and decided to stop to let the dogs out for a walk. At a quarter to six, we left the charging station with about an estimated 110 miles of range for our next leg of the trip (I mentally added some miles to the range to compensate for the higher speed my son was driving at as I would be driving now at a slower speed).  Uneventfully we arrived at our next charging stop in exactly the time I thought we would (2 hours), with a 3% charge remaining as we pulled into the charging station.

The chargers didn’t work, but by now we were used to it: a phone call to customer service resolved the issue through a reboot, and we were compensated for our troubles with a free charging session (though the speed never reached the designed 150 kWh/hr rate but at a slower 50 kWh/hr rate).  As this was a bigger town, we went across the street to eat breakfast while the car charged. The next charging stop was also relatively uneventful, and everything just worked at the maximum rate.  Unfortunately, since this was summer fire season, a forest fire blocked our way, and we had to detour an extra 47 miles around. We finally arrived quite exhausted at our destination in the early afternoon. Over the course of our 4-day stay at the hotel, we enjoyed a great benefit of an EV—the free level 2 charging station at the hotel was able to fully replenish the battery every night, and our car was ready to go every morning for a full day of driving around the lake (saving us $120 worth of gas money).

As our vacation ended and on our way home, we did not experience the same traumatic experience with the charging stations. However, none of the charging stops was quite flawless. The first stop took a while to connect due to a volatile cell signal on my phone (which I can’t blame on the charging infrastructure and which could be overcome by using a credit card to pay instead of using the app). The second stop took two tries to find a working charger—but at least we got 150 kWh/hr (which shut off unceremoniously after two minutes, so we tried a second time without any further issues). The third stop was at the station that had given us grief the first night, but now the chargers were working, albeit only at a 30 kWh/hr rate. For the last stop, we also had to try several chargers (entailing moving and reparking the car in different stalls) before finding one that worked, though it said complimentary session (yes!) but only at a 50 kWh/hr rate.

While we were charging, a fellow EV owner came over to ask if everything was OK, and we started chatting about our ownership experience (he owned the same car and was on the first charging stop of his family vacation). He offered the very helpful tip of using the Electrify America app to check the last time someone had used a charger to quickly find a charger that was likely to be working. After that, we arrived home safe and sound.

Audi e-Tron back from long road trip

Reflecting on this experience, I am still a firm believer in EVs. I believe that my experience the first night was probably an outlier and that it was most likely caused by a transformer station somewhere being knocked out by the recent heatwave, therefore, cutting quick charging to chargers belonging to three different networks. Furthermore, we were traveling through a very rural part of the state (that there were no Tesla superchargers for hundreds of miles), and the experience would be different had we traveled through more populated urban centers.  I would still take my EV on another road trip and would not hesitate to buy another EV. The vacation saw a total of 1,600 miles driven, and we averaged 2.7 mi/kWh (or an energy equivalent of 90 mi/gal!) with a very heavy SUV (it weighs over 6,000 pounds with passengers and luggage) through hot California weather requiring the use of AC. The ride quality was exceptionally smooth (no shifting gears) and quiet (no engine noise).  More hotels are now installing free level 2 chargers for their guests, and this amenity really highlights one of EV’s greatest benefits. Ultimately, as with every new experience, driving an EV requires a bit of getting used to and some adaptability.  Additionally, this unique experience afforded me the opportunity to talk to more travelers than I usually would as I speed on my way to my destinations.  Someday far into the future, I hope that my son can look back on this unusual experience and appreciate the time that he got to spend with his dad at the dawn of the EV age and tell this story to his children and their children of how things used to be.

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Driving Electric Cars Electric Car Charging

How to Own an Electric Car and Live in an Apartment

Considering buying an electric car, but Not Sure how to charge an electric car at an apartment?

Living in an apartment certainly presents more challenges with charging an electric vehicle, but don’t be discouraged.  There are many solutions to charge an electric car at an apartment with no charging stations.

It is estimated that nearly 39 million people in the United States call apartments home, and demand for apartments continues to rise across the globe.  But, many apartment complexes still do not offer charging stations for electric vehicles as demand grows and commitment from governments and auto manufacturers to produce more electric vehicles increases.

Now, if you’re really serious about buying an electric vehicle, it’s time to get creative to make your dreams come true.

Charge at Work

If you still work at a physical office and commute to an office, this is the easiest (and one of the cheapest) solutions. More and more companies are providing EV charging for their employees, so if your company provides chargers, you can charge up all day and leave work on a full charge.

If you commute to work, but your office does not provide EV charging, there is still hope. Many companies receive incentives for providing EV charging to their employees.  Why not ask and see if they are open to it? It’s likely you won’t be the first one, so the more interest they have, the more likely they would consider providing this perk to their employees.

Find Public EV Chargers Nearby

Find public charging stations near your home or office or any other place you visit frequently like a mall, restaurant, or gym.  There are many apps like Chargemap, Chargepoint, and Plugshare that show EV charging stations nearby, with photos, reviews, and real-time availability.  Even Google Maps lets you search for “EV charging stations“.

Plug Into a Wall Outlet

With a heavy duty extension cord, it is possible to charge your vehicle by running it from an outlet in your apartment to your vehicle.  This would be considered Level 1 charging where you are plugging the vehicle into a standard 120-volt outlet. If this is an option for you based on your parking, you will generally get a few miles of charge per hour or about 20-50 miles of charge over 10 hours.  If you commute less than 50 miles per day, you could plug your EV in every night and have close to a full charge the next morning.

Ask Your Landlord or Property Manager to Install an EV Charging Station

If you haven’t struck up a conversation yet with your property manager about EV charging stations, now may be a better time than ever.  As more and more people start to consider electric vehicles, apartment complexes will eventually have no choice but to install charging stations.  It is possible that your landlord has been considering this, but is waiting for more tenants to request EV charging.

Installing EV charging for tenants benefits both the tenant and property.  It would allow the apartment to advertise EV charging as an amenity and potentially charge higher rents.  Much of this would depend on the parking situation and the type of complex you live in.  It could be in the best interest of the property to consider this sooner rather than later.

Companies like Chargepoint and EverCharge work with your property to install EV charging stations on site.  ChargePoint even offers a template letter you can send to your landlord.  The apartment may pay for installation, but ask tenants to pay a small monthly maintenance fee.  This is in addition to all usage costs from charging your vehicle.  So, this may not be your best choice.

Look for Apartments Nearby with EV Charging Stations

If all else fails, it might be time to search for apartments in your area with EV charging stations.  If your lease is expiring soon and you were already considering moving, this could be your opportunity.  Find a place that offers EV charging, so that you can finally purchase that electric vehicle you’ve been eying.

Owning an Electric Vehicle while Living in an Apartment

Consider purchasing an electric vehicle with a longer-range battery, even if you don’t plan on taking long road trips.  The extra cost upfront could make up for the time spent charging.

All electric vehicles have different battery ranges, but most use the same charging methods.

Charging Types

  • Level 1 charging uses a standard 120V outlet, the same you’d plug your toaster into.  This gives about 3.5 to 6.5 miles of range per hour or up to 60 miles in 10 hours.
  • Level 2 charging uses a 240-volt outlet, the same you plug your oven or clothes dryer into. This gives about 12 to 35 miles of range per hour or up to 350 miles in 10 hours. Likely a full charge.
  • Level 3 charging, or superchargers (DC fast charging), gives about 90 miles in 30 minutes. These are typically only found in public charging stations.

Understanding the  different types of EV charging may also be helpful so that you can make an informed decision on how best to charge.

Charging electric vehicle

Owning an electric vehicle, even if you live in an apartment with no chargers, doesn’t have to stop you from purchasing your first electric car.  You may need to get creative and use multiple methods of charging listed here, but if you are really set on buying an electric car, you can make it work!

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Electric Car Charging

How Skipping the Gas Stations Saves You Time

Our family bought a Model X and Model S Tesla in 2018. As a result, my wife and I have not been to a gas station over the past three years. Having owned an automobile that relies on gasoline, the act of driving to the gas station to pump gas became second nature. As a result, we did not need to make our weekly trips to pump gas with electric cars and instead charged our vehicles overnight while we slept. Owning an electric car feels very different because we never really stop to recharge outside of long trips of over 200 miles. That feeling of not having to take weekly trips to get gas or wake up early on the weekend to get an oil change is liberating.

Skipping the Gas Station is Liberating

While the feeling of not having to get gas is excellent, I wanted to try and figure out how much time do you save by skipping the gas station. So the first step I took was to figure out how often the average person gets gas. According to a study, I found most Americans refuel their vehicles once a week. So now I will assume that the average person spends ten minutes driving to the gas station, another five minutes to pump gas, pay, and leave the gas station. That means that the average trip to the gas station on average takes about fifteen minutes per trip. So with a weekly trip to the gas station, the average person, according to my estimate, spends thirteen hours a year driving to and from the gas station and pumping gas.

Just by skipping the gas station over the past three years, we have owned our electric cars, my wife and I each got 39 hours of our life back to use our time as we wish. In addition, charging our electric vehicles at home has been a seamless experience. At the end of the day, we park our car in the garage and plug our car into the charger. The vehicle charges at home overnight when electricity is cheapest, and in the morning, we have a fully charged car. The time it takes to plug your vehicle into a home charger takes less than a minute. And while it takes anywhere from four to nine hours to charge an electric car completely, chargings occur overnight, so you are never waiting.

Charging at Home is Seamless

Also, keep in mind the average American drives about 29 miles per day. And with the most popular electric cars able to all driver at a minimum of over 200 miles on a single charge, the reality most daily charging is topping off the battery, which does not take a lot of time. So owning an electric car is a very different experience and one where there is far less maintenance and support needed to keep your vehicle running. So in addition to skipping the gas station, we have not had to do any maintenance on our cars, which has saved us a ton of time.

To learn more about how you can save time money, read our guide or visit Electric Driver

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Driving Electric Cars Electric Car Charging

Electric Car Range in Extreme Heat

 

How far electric cars can travel in extreme heat is a question many people ask. To answer this question, you have to consider several factors. I will go through what factors can impact the distance you can travel on a single charge. I recently took a 495 mile trip from the Grand Canyon in Arizona to Orange, California, in our 2018 Tesla Model X in one of the hottest days on record

 

Electric Car Models Impact Range

Your electric car will determine how far you can travel. The model you choose will also determine how many miles per kilowatt you will be able to travel. To get good mileage, you want to select a light vehicle with the biggest battery possible. For example, we were driving an older, heavy Tesla Model X with a 75-kilowatt battery and a 237-mile range on our road trip. Assuming we had normal driving conditions and were not driving fast, our Tesla Model X would be able to travel 3.1 miles per kilowatt of electricity.

 

Extreme Heat Reduce Range

Electric Car range is reduced by extreme heat. Extreme cold or hot temperatures put additional demands on your electric battery resulting in reduced range. For example, the road trip I recently took had us traveling through the Movaje desert in heat over 120 degrees. Due to the extreme heat, we had to blast our air conditioning, resulting in consuming electricity faster than average. According to AAA, extreme temperatures can reduce battery range up to 41%, but this depends on your driving conditions and which electric car you own.

 

Speeds and Driving Uphill Reduce Range

With a gas-powered car, how fast you drive affects how many miles you get per gallon. Electric cars are no different and burn through their electricity faster with high speeds. Since electric vehicles run on electricity, the miles per gallon equivalent is how miles per kilowatt.

With our 2018 Tesla Model X under normal driving conditions, we would get 3.1 miles per kilowatt. Our road trip conditions were far from typical, however. We had our air conditioning blasting to keep the 120-degree heat at bay. My wife was driving 70 to 85 miles per hour, and we had hilly roads. Consequently, due to the driving conditions and heat, the Kingman to Baker portion of my road trip, which was 143 miles ate up 207 miles of my battery. The extreme conditions resulted in an extra 64 miles of electricity to be expended to travel 143 miles. One last point before I move on. My example was not representative of a typical range loss but rather how driving conditions can reduce range.

 

Braking and Downhill Driving Increase Range

At one point in our Kingman to Baker leg of our road trip, the estimated we would arrive at our destination with nine miles to spare. Range anxiety crept in as we did not want to get caught in the Mojave desert with spotty cell phone coverage and 120-degree heat. As a result, we reduced our sped the rest of the way to around 55 miles, and lucky for us, we ran into a few downhill stretches of road.

The result of driving downhill is it allows electric cars the opportunity to create electricity. We ended up benefiting from the downhill driving and got to Baker with 34 miles of charge left in the battery. The lesson here is unlike gas cars which see worse fuel economy with frequent braking, and electric cars’ fuel efficiency improves with braking. Regenerative braking is a technology that takes the friction from braking and converts a portion of that energy into electricity. The result is braking allows you to create some electricity while driving, slightly increasing your range.

 

Getting Home and Road Trip Lessons

Our 495-mile trip took us 10 hours and four stops to charge our batteries along the way. Our electric vehicle handled the heat like a champ. Several cars were on the side of the road overheating, but our electric vehicle had no issues outside of increased electricity use. In case you are wondering, charging an electric car looks like let me provide some detail. First, your electric vehicle will provide you with directions to a charging station.

Our Tesla trip planner charging a course through the Mojave desert in extreme heat.
Here is a picture of our trip planner guiding us to the next charging station.

These charging stations tend to be near the freeway offramps and next to food, restrooms, and shopping. Depending on how many miles you need to replenish, charging can take 20 to 60 minutes. In our case, each stop at the charging station took about 30 to 45 minutes per stop. However, we did not feel the wait because, during each stop, we either had a meal to eat, picked up some snacks, or took a restroom break.

In case you were wondering what it cost to charge our car, we paid nothing. We pay nothing for charging because back in 2018, Tesla offered free lifetime charging. Unfortunately, Tesla phased out lifetime charging in 2020, and it is no longer available. So now you can expect to pay $.40 per kilowatt of electricity when charging away from home.

 We reduced our emissions on our trip, which feels good, saved money, and had a pleasant, trouble-free road trip.

I hope to have shed some light on how extreme heat reduces electric car range. If you are interested in learning more about electric car ranges and how much it costs to drive, visit Electric Driver or visit our guide on selecting the right electric car for you.

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Driving Electric Cars Electric Car Charging Electric Vehicle Charging

How to Take a Road Trip With an Electric Car

 

How to take a road trip with an electric car is something many owners of gas-powered cars ask me. Road trips with an electric car require some planning but, once mastered, can be quite rewarding.

Planning For a Road Trip

Whenever you take a road trip with your electric car, planning needs to occur. I will use our recent trip from Orange, California, to the Grand Canyon in Arizona as an example. My wife promised our son that we would take him to the Grand Canyon. Along the way, we wanted to visit one of our family friends in Mesa, Arizona. While at Mesa, we needed to stay overnight and also charge our electric car. A wise option is to find a hotel that has a destination charger. A destination charger replenishes your battery at a rate of 16 to 40 miles per hour. Most electric cars can replenish their battery overnight, allowing you to resume your trip in the morning. We found a Hampton Inn in Gilbert, Arizona, with three Tesla chargers and two standard chargers.

Use Your Electric Car’s Trip Planner

Once we found our hotel with a destination charger, we needed to figure out how to get to Mesa, Arizona. Our 2018 Tesla Model X gets 237 miles on s single charge, and from Orang to Mesa is 375 miles. So we needed to find what route to  Mesa would allow us to recharge our battery along the way.

We used our Tesla’s Trip planner, which is built into the car’s navigation software, to figure out our route. The trip planner will route a course calculating which charging stations it will need to stop and for how long along the way. In our case, the trip planner told us we would have to stop at Cabazon, Ehrenberg, and Buckeye to charge our electric car. Furthermore, the trip planner estimated we would have to charge for 30 minutes in Cabazon, 50 minutes in Ehrenberg, and 25 minutes in Buckeye to reach Mesa.

Road trips with an electric car starts with using your trip planner
We used our trip planner to figure out what route to take from Orange, California, to Mesa, Arizona. The planner figured out what charging stations to stop and for how long to get us to Mesa.

Fully Charge your Electric Car Battery

You want to start your trip right, so having a fully charged battery is essential. A quick distinction to make on charging your battery is to set it to 100%. For daily driving, electric car owners put their battery to charge at 80% to prolong the life of the car’s battery. However, with a long trip, you want to fully charge your battery so you can get every mile possible.

 

Watch your Driving Speed

Watching your driving speed and use of the air conditioning will affect how much electricity you use. Think about your miles per gallon efficiency while driving your car. If you are driving fast and blasting your air conditioning, you will go through your fuel much quicker than driving closer to the speed limit. The same principles apply to an electric car. Managing your speeds and making sure you don’t overuse your air conditioning can help you get the most miles out of your battery.

In our case, we drove at a quick pace traveling at speeds of 70 to 85 miles per hour. The result of the high speeds was burning through our electricity faster than average. 

Charging on the Road

On extended trips where you will be traveling beyond the range of your electric vehicle, you will need to recharge on the road. For example, on our recent road trip, we left the city of orange around 9 am and, an hour into the trip, stopped at Cabazon to recharge. The Cabazon chargers are next to a series of outlet stores, so we did some window shopping while recharging our batteries. Our battery was down to 40%, and using Tesla’s network of superchargers, within 30 minutes, we recharged our battery back to 80% and were back on the road. If you are curious as to how much it costs to charge an electric car on the road it typically costs twice as much as charging at home but it is still cheaper than gas.

Recharging our Tesla Model X at Buckhead, Arizona
At Buckhead, we recharged our electric car using a Tesla SuperCharger. Having food and restrooms nearby helped make the best use of our pitstop.

Extreme Temperatures Reduce Range

When we left Cabazon, the temperate was about 100 degrees and climbing. About an hour and a half later, we had to stop again to recharge in Ehrenberg, Arizona. Of the eight available Tesla Superchargers, we were the only car there. There was a gas station and a Wendy’s next to us, so we took the opportunity to take a bio break and get some lunch. By the time we got our food and used the restrooms, we were back in the car. We at our lunch and were back on the road with very little time to wait.

 

 

 

 

The temperature at Ehrenberg was 115 degrees and rising. The reason the temperature is of significance is that extreme temperatures will reduce your vehicle’s range. We had to blast the air conditioning to keep the heat at bay. Within 40 minutes, we had recharged and again on the road. For the rest of the trip to Mesa, we had to run our AC to keep cool. Due to the heavy AC use, we had used up 10-20% of our range to stay comfortable, but it was worth it. We also want to point out that driving in the snow also has similar range reductions as the heat.

Arriving at Mesa, Arizona

After one more stop to charge at Buckhead, we were back on the road and headed to our friend’s house in Mesa. Temperates now had reached 120 degrees. Along the way, some cars overheated along the road, but our electric car handled the heat like a champ. We arrived a little later than expected in Mesa due to traffic. 

Reconnecting with Friends

 We got to connect with our friends which we had not seen since COVID. Our kids swam, played, and we had a nice dinner watching the sunset over the city of Phoenix. Since the temperatures were around 120 degrees when we parked our car, we used a feature in our Tesla called the cabin to overheat protection. Since electric cars are essentially computers on wheels, we had to make sure the heat would not damage the electric components in the car. The overheat protection feature kept the car’s cabin cool enough to ensure no component damage due to heat.

Charging Overnight Using the Destination Charger

At the end of the evening, we bid our friends goodbye and drove to our hotel. We had about 30 miles of electricity left in our battery, and the hotel was a 10-minute drive from our friend’s house. So we drove to the Hampstead Inn in Gilbert and plugged into a destination charger where we could recharge overnight.

Destination Charger in a Hampton Inn Hotel in Gilbert Arizona.
While staying at a hotel overnight, we used the hotel’s destination charger to recharge our electric car.

Parting Words for Taking a Road Trip with an Electric Car

While I shared the example of our Mesa trip using our Tesla, the steps I took to apply to any electric car. Planning is vital as the availability of electric charging stations is not as prevalent as gas stations. Watching your speed, completely charging your battery, and using your trip planner are vital in getting to your destination. Taking a road trip with an electric car requires some planning, but in the end, it will save you money and reduce your emissions. Road trips in an electric vehicle can be an environmentally responsible and affordable way to see the country. To learn more about electric cars, visit Electric Driver or visit our EV selection guide.

 

 

 

 

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Electric Car Charging Researching Electric Cars

Understanding Electric Car Charging

 

 

 

 

Understanding electric car charging is an important step in evaluating how electric vehicles can fit into your lifestyle. For example, gas cars require frequent trips to the gas station while electric vehicles are different. Electric cars do most of their charging overnight at home. Outside of long trips, or if you forgot to charge overnight, most electric car owners have no downtime waiting to recharge. Let us start by explaining the basics of electric car charging. After that, we will cover the basics of charging at home and on the road.

Electric Car External Chargers Explained

The first step is understanding what electric car charging is. An electric car charger can mean two different things, one being called an onboard charger and the other an external charger. For this article, we will focus on the external charger. An external charger can also be called electric vehicle supply equipment. The external charger takes AC electricity and converts it to DC power, stored in your car battery. Each external electric car charger can provide so many kilowatts per hour of electricity her hour. 

 

Level 1 Electric Car Charging

 The least-costly method to charge your electric car utilizing a standard electrical outlet, otherwise known as level 1 charging. The onboard electric charger built into your vehicle is used to plug into an electric socket. However, while level 1 charging is readily available, it charges at a rate of about 2 miles an hour of electricity. Therefore, if you have an electric car battery with a 200-mile range, it could take 100 hours to charge your car. Because of the long recharging time, level 1 charging is not recommended and used as a last resort, assuming no better options are available.

Level 2 Electric Car Charging

The most common external charger is a level 2. Level 2 chargers can be found throughout the country at hotels, malls, and even used in the home. Furthermore, level 2 chargers are a big step up from level 1 charging in that they can charge up to ten times faster. For example, a level 1 wall socket charges at a rate of 2 miles per hour. Meanwhile, a level two charger can charge around 25 to 35 miles per hour. If you plan to add a level 2 external charger to your home, you will need a dedicated 240v line. 

Destination Charger in a Hampton Inn Hotel in Gilbert Arizona.
While staying at a hotel overnight, we used the hotel’s destination charger to recharge our electric car.

 

 

DC Fast Chargers Explained

DC fast charging, otherwise known as direct current fast charging, is the quickest way to charge your electric car. These external chargers run between 400v to 1000v of electricity. Subsequently, these chargers can charge most electric cars to 80% battery capacity in about 20-40 minutes. DC chargers are commercially available all across the country but are too expensive for home use with a price tag of around $50,000. Many companies provide their DC fast-charging network for public use for a fee. On average, expect to pay about twice what you pay at home for a kilowatt of power. Companies like Electrify America and Tesla’s private Supercharger are all DC fast charging providers.

Electricity America electric vehicle charging station
A DC Fast charging station with a Volkswagen ID.4 charging.

 

DC Fast Charging On the Road

While on the road, using DC fast chargers when on the road is a positive experience. Think of DC fast-charging stations like a gas station for electric cars.  Most DC fast-charge stations are strategically placed within shopping malls or next to restaurants. So while you recharge your electric car, you can grab a bite to eat, take a bathroom break, or do some shopping. I recently took a road trip through the Mojave desert and Mesa where I stopped at DC fast charge stations,

Home Electric Car Charging Basics

The average driver commutes around 29 miles per day. Most EV batteries have a driving range of over 200 miles, which means they can handle their daily commute without charging. Therefore, electric vehicles do most of their charging home overnight. Convenient home charging requires a level 2 external charger, which can recharge the typical electric vehicle in around 8 hours. 

How Much Will it Cost to Setup a Home Charger

Level 2 external chargers can range from $250 to $2,500. You can purchase a good EV charger for around $600. As for installation, you will need to hire an electrician. According to HomeAdvisor, the national installation cost for installing your EV charging station is about  $456 to $1,080. 

How Do I know where and when to Charge

Trip planning is relatively easy with electric cars. Within your vehicle’s infotainment system is trip planning software. For example, if you wanted to take a trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, your electric car would plan your route with stops at EV charging stations along the way. With most vehicles able to go 200 plus miles on a single full battery, when you stop to charge, it lines up pretty well with when you have to stop for food or a bio break. 

Plug Type Determines What DC Fast Chargers You Can Use

One thing to keep in mind is not all chargers will work with every EV. Each car manufacturer supports a specific method for EV charging. For example, Tesla has its proprietary plug, while the rest of the car manufacturers either subscribe to the CCS standard or the CHadeMO. As a result, Tesla’s plug can only work with Tesla’s DC fast chargers. However, with a cable attachment, Teslas can work ChadeMo charging stations as well. 

The good news is your electric vehicle can guide you to any supported charger through the navigation and trip planning software within your infotainment system.

Parting Words

I hope you have a better understanding of electric car charging after reading this article. Researching your electric vehicle can be a daunting task, but help is available. Electric Driver is built to help demystify and guide you to the right electric vehicle. Visit Electric Driver or our guide to learn more on how to select the right EV.

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Electric Car Charging Researching Electric Cars

How Much Does it Cost to Charge an Electric Car?

 

How much does it costs to charge an electric car is a question many prospective car buyers have. You probably have a good idea of how much it costs to fill up your tank and how many miles you can drive on a gallon. On the other hand, when it comes to an electric car, you probably have no idea how much it costs to charge an electric car; or how many miles you can travel on a kilowatt of electricity. Understanding what it costs to charge an electric car is easy. Also, keep in mind just like each gas model has its own miles per gallon, the same applies to electric vehicles. There are a few things you need to know as well as a little bit of math. We can cover the basics of charging below.

Battery Capacity

One of the first things you need to understand is the battery capacity. Battery capacity is the electric equivalent to the size of a gas tank. The larger the battery capacity you have, the more kilowatts you can store. Larger battery capacities typically lead to more distance you can cover. Another key point is that electric car batteries are the most expensive car component. So keep in mind that range comes at a premium with electric cars.

Driving Range

The distance you can travel on a fully charged electric battery is another consideration to take. Think driving range as to how far you could drive on a single tank of gas. Like a gas car, the answer depends on how big of a gas tank you have and have fuel-efficient your vehicle is. The larger the electric battery is, the more electricity you have, but the heavy the car becomes, offsetting some of your distance gains. Also, each electric car model has a specific efficiency. For example, our 2018 Tesla Model X can drive 237 miles on a full charge of its 75-kilowatt battery. A new 2021 Audi e-Tron goes 222 miles on a 95-kilowatt battery. The point I am making is a larger battery capacity does not mean a longer distance, as we can see with the e-Tron versus Model x example.

Miles Per Kilowatt

Just like you are used to the idea of miles per gallon of gas, I thought there should be an electric car equivalent. To help, I am introducing the concept of miles per kilowatts for electric cars. The idea here your electric vehicle will travel a certain amount of miles, spending one kilowatt of electricity. Kilowatt per mile will be different for each electric car model as they will have their own efficiency based on their configuration. Take, for example, a 2021 Tesla Model S long Range with a range of 412 on a 100 Kilowatt battery. Dividing the range (412) by the battery capacity of 100 tells us the Model S can travel around four miles per kilowatt of electricity.

Price for Kilowatt of Electricity

Think of electricity prices per kilowatt similar to the price of gas per gallon. Understanding your state utility charges will help you figure out what it will cost to fill up your battery. Say, in California, the price of a kilowatt of electricity is 22 cents. Filling up a 100-kilowatt battery would cost 22 dollars. Now keep in mind, electricity pricing will vary based on what state you are in, along with what time you buy electricity. Buying electricity late at night tends to be cheaper. Also, some utility has time-of-use programs where they charger lower rates in exchange for charging at specific times.If you own solar panels, you can create your electricity which is the ideal option.

Electric Driver 2021 Ford Mustang March E page
Electric Driver vehicle page showing affordability of 2021 Mustang March E

Weather Impacts on Driving Range

The temperature can have adverse impacts on how many miles you can travel on a kilowatt of electricity. With snow and hot temperates of 95 degrees or greater, you can see a decrease in the overall distance your electric car can travel on a single charge. The decline varies based on temperate, weight, and your specific model of the electric vehicle. AAA states they have seen driving range reductions of up to 40%. However, in my experience of driving in snow and 100-degree heat, I have only seen about a 20% reduction in driving range.

Most of your Charging Happens Overnight at Home

Most of your driving will typically take place around 50 miles a day. Since most electric batteries are now edging over 200 miles and on a single charge, people charge at home overnight. Charging at home saves you money and time as all your driving is seamless, with no stops at a gas station or charging bay to refuel. However, there are some upfront costs associated with setting up a home electric car charger. First, you will need to purchase a charging station that is compatible with your car. You should get a good electric car charger for about $500 to $1,000 for the hardware. You will also need an electrician to set up the home charger for around $400 to $1,200. Check with your electric utility provider as they may offer incentives or rebates to set up an electric car charger.

Using a Commercial Electric Vehicle Charger Costs More

Most of you charging for your electric car will occur at home. However, if you are taking a long trip or forgot to charge overnight at home, a commercial charging station will be an option. Commercial charging stations will charge you more than your home rates, but the charging station could charge your electric car much faster.

 For example, Electrify America, a commercial vendor in California charges 

Electrify America DC fast charging station in Baker
An Electrify America DC Fast Charging station.

 $.43 per kilowatt-hour to charge your electric vehicle. While the commercial rates can be almost twice the cost of charging at home, electricity will be cheaper than gas.

Electric Driver Is Your Resource for Charging Costs

We hope you have a better understanding of how much does it costs to charge an electric car. You can calculate the charging costs by multiplying the driving range of an electric vehicle by the price per kilowatt. Alternatively, you can visit Electric Driver, where we have compiled all the electric charging and related information on our site based on the specific electric car model and location. Alternatively, If you are looking to learn more about selecting the right electric car, visit our guide.