Want to learn a case study on what it’s like taking an electric vehicle on a road trip? Read the exact steps that I took to learn and use your Tesla for a road trip that is safe and efficient. Here’s how to take a Tesla on a road trip.
While taking my Tesla on a road trip, I wanted to ensure that I had enough information on my economic, environmental and social impact with my own personal impact reporting.
But why stop there?
There’s a ton that I learned during the process of taking a Tesla road trip.
I’ll share those lessons learned to guide you to make your trip more efficient if you are taking a road trip in a Tesla.
How to Take a Tesla on a Road Trip
Let’s get into the exact steps on how to take a Tesla on a road trip efficiently so you can make the most of your electric vehicle experience.
Step 1: Use a Road Trip Planner
Gone are the days of winging a road trip simply by picking a destination on a map. Unfortunately with EVs, you’ll need to plan your trip around charging stations.
One thing I discovered during my road trip is that there is a ton of opportunity for more charging stations. I’ll be monitoring the viability of EV charging investment opportunities to see how things will develop over time.
That can lead to a new level of spontaneous by finding towns you normally wouldn’t visit.
At the same time, electric vehicles present an interesting approach to software to solve the problem. Maps will re-route your trip based on your remaining battery capacity.
Even with the help of software, you need to plan your trip around charging stations just to be safe. You don’t want to end up in a last-ditch situation of charging on a 1 KW wall (I’ll get to that later).
I wanted to see Mount Rushmore so I went a different route than suggested and learned from things along the way.
Step 2: Use Other Apps & Tools to Maximize Efficiency
Tesla wants you to use their supercharging stations as well as the destination chargers as much as possible, but don’t stop there. You want to have as many options as possible.
There is plenty of other EV charging networks out there (and that continues to grow). You’ll need to know where to find them so I use the Plugshare and ChargeHub apps to find other types of charging stations.
Check out a few of my experiences at supercharging stations around the U.S.
Here’s a video of me charging at the Primm, Nevada supercharging station.
I simply input my vehicle type which is a Tesla Model 3 Standard Range and then I can filter out specific charging stations as I go.
Step 3: Be Prepared for All Scenarios
You should always have the right adapters and tools with you to succeed on your road trip. There are a ton of variations on the different types of charging stations out there.
There is way more out there than just Tesla destination charging or Tesla superchargers.
Types of Charging Stations
Here are the various types of charging stations along with the well-known companies that own the technology or infrastructure with it.
- Charging outlet
- Charging plug
- Charging port
- EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment)
Then, there are different levels of charging such as Level 2 or Level 3 fast charging. The various ports you’ll need to know are:
- Tesla Supercharging Stations
Step 4: Always Start Your Day With a Full Charge
The most important thing you need to know is to try to always find a way to keep your EV plugged in on a road trip. You may not always be able to have your car completely plugged in overnight.
But ensure you always have a convenient option nearby. Especially on a road trip.
The great thing nowadays is that nearly every Marriott or Holiday Inn has an EV charging station in the parking lot.
Step 5: Have Fun and Pair Your Charging Time With Something Productive
As you can see from above, I will use a drone while charging to help me build content for my travel website.
Electric vehicles can work and will work. I was both shocked by the existing electric vehicle infrastructure out there, but also saw ample opportunity to expand the infrastructure base and capabilities.
Electric Vehicle Tips for Road Trips
Here are a few tips for taking a road trip in an electric vehicle.
Cost of Doing a Road Trip in a Tesla
Let’s take a look at the cost of a road trip in a Tesla or even any electric vehicle. The cost of a road trip in a Tesla may be more than you think. At least it was for me.
Again this is a scenario where your cost will vary significantly depending on your situation such as where you are driving, what you have inside the car and the type of electric vehicle that you are driving.
For me, I am driving the Tesla Model 3 standard range, so I don’t have great range.
That means I have to charge more often, hence, making it more costly.
In the table below, you can see the total cost of all my charges on my round trip journey from Minnesota to California and back.
The total cost of the trip was $245.14. You can see the various prices that you pay.
Albert Lea, MN - Happy Trails Lane
19 kWh @ $0.23/kWh
40 kWh @ $0.22/kWh
West Des Moines, IA
37 kWh @ $0.22/kWh
32 kWh @ $0.21/kWh
12 min @ $0.12/min
20 min @ $0.11/min
14 kWh @ $0.22/kWh
Oklahoma City, OK
38 kWh @ $0.22/kWh
17 kWh @ $0.22/kWh
9 min @ $0.11/min
7 kWh @ $0.24/kWh
Santa Rosa, NM
35 kWh @ $0.24/kWh
40 kWh @ $0.24/kWh
40 kWh @ $0.24/kWh
38 kWh @ $0.25/kWh
28 kWh @ $0.25/kWh
1 kWh @ $0.25/kWh
37 kWh @ $0.25/kWh
29 kWh @ $0.25/kWh
New River, AZ
13 kWh @ $0.25/kWh
Phoenix, AZ - East Camelback Road
18 kWh @ $0.25/kWh
Palm Springs, CA
16 kWh @ $0.35/kWh
Palm Springs, CA
5 kWh @ $0.35/kWh
Twentynine Palms, CA
24 kWh @ $0.35/kWh
30 kWh @ $0.29/kWh
St. George, UT
30 kWh @ $0.25/kWh
36 kWh @ $0.25/kWh
15 kWh @ $0.25/kWh
Rock Springs, WY
20 min @ $0.13/min
19 min @ $0.13/min
21 min @ $0.12/min
19 min @ $0.12/min
28 min @ $0.11/min
25 min @ $0.12/min
Sioux Falls, SD
4 min @ $0.12/min
Sioux Falls, SD
32 min @ $0.12/min
47 kWh @ $0.23/kWh
How pricing works with a Tesla supercharger
Superchargers can be free, charge by the minutes used, or on a per-kWh used.
Tesla’s Perform Extremely Well in Various Conditions
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Are Tesla’s good for road trips?
Yes, Tesla’s actually make for great road trip vehicles. Some features that make Tesla’s excellent road trip cars are the industry-leading safety rating, auto-pilot driving, zero emissions and the ability to save money without purchasing gas.
Can you drive long-distance with a Tesla?
Yes, as a result of our case study of driving 1,899 miles in 3 days, a Tesla can easily be taken on a long-distance road trip.
How long does it take to charge a Tesla?
There are a number of factors that will determine how long it takes to charge a Tesla, including the number of cars on the grid, the size of the charging station, the type of Tesla you drive, the temperature you are in, and many other factors. With a supercharger, a charge typically takes 20-30 minutes. With a destination charger, it can take 3-5 hours.
How do I plan a Tesla road trip?
To plan a road trip in a Tesla, start by using the Tesla Trip Planner to map out where charging stations are located throughout your journey. Use other apps to find other charging stations outside of Tesla destination chargers or superchargers.