I needed to travel from my home in Delaware to a Board Meeting for a new EV Charger Company near Daytona Beach, Florida. I had booked my flights out of Baltimore-Washington International Airport to Orlando, Florida, and was all set to go. In thinking about my trip, and realizing that I was in no rush to get back home, it occurred to me that I should head over to Tampa, Florida after the meeting and see two different groups of friends that I hadn’t seen since before Covid. Thus, I booked my return flight out of Tampa.
No doubt you’ve heard about the recent airline issues – cancelled flights, crazy people on flights, etc. It also occurred to me that there were a number of family and friends in between Delaware and Florida that I hadn’t seen in years, and I should. So, I cancelled my flights, and decided to take a road trip to Florida and back (alone).
My trip was with my 2022 Tesla X, with an estimated 330 miles of range, in decent weather. This is my second Tesla X, as I had a 2016 for 4 1/2 year, before trading it in. Since I was doing this trip in February, I knew that my range would be a bit reduced on the northern part of the trip, and better in the southern part.
The first thing that I noticed in my trip planning that was that there is no trip planning software that was totally helpful for this kind of trip. It’s not just a function of finding chargers along the way, there were so many Tesla Superchargers enroute that I merely had to decide how long I would go without a rest stop. However, none of the programs out there accounted for using hotel destination chargers for overnight charging. In other words, they couldn’t account for me arriving with (for example) arriving at a hotel with a 20% charge, and leaving in the morning with a 90% charge. One program, www.abetterrouteplanner.com, came closest, enabling me to change my departure time at a time, and being able to adjust my arrival charge state (but not my departure charge state). It has an adjustment to do either more stops with shorter charging time, or fewer stops with longer charging time. I chose fewer/longer stops, because I like to take a nap while my car is charging (although my Tesla is outfitted so that I could watch Netflix, Disney, etc., or play games). Basically, I was stopping every 2 to 2 1/2 hours, which was perfect for hygiene stops.
Once I figured out the best route to see my friends (I-95 on the way down, I-85 on the way back), I was pleased to find that even in the non-interstate portions of my trip did not cause any charger location issues. In fact, the only charger issue that I had was at a Tesla Supercharger at a police station that was giving me fluctuating charging number. So I went another 10 miles along my route to another Supercharger. Another Supercharger in Atlanta was full when I arrived, but a spot cleared about a minute later. Of course, since I was only using Tesla Superchargers, I can’t speak to the experience with non-Tesla chargers.
My experience thus far with destination chargers (those at hotels), has been mixed. A couple of months ago, I arrived at the hotel that I picked because of it having such chargers, and found one spot occupied by a charging EV, another occupied by a non-EV, and the final remaining spot blocked by a car in an adjacent spot that could stay within it’s white lines. On my road trip, at one hotel it was no problem, but at the second three of the five chargers were not functioning. Clearly, if we’re to encourage such use, hotels must be more diligent.
The car experience itself was excellent on the highway. Not having to keep my foot on the accelerator or brake allowed me to arrive at each location feeling decently, and not dragging. There were a few times when the car slowed down for emergency lights in various locales, but nothing significant.
On the other hand, the Full-Service Beta was a bit glitchy. It has trouble distinguishing between yellow blinking lights at intersections, thinking that they’re either emergency lights or perhaps traffic lights about to turn red. Near my home, it had trouble at one intersection, getting into the left turn lane when the GPS was clearly showing it was time for a right turn. Once it figured out it was wrong, it just stopped in that left turn lane. I didn’t give it a chance to see what it would do next. Similarly, on a street near my home, it for some reason followed the car ahead and made a right turn, even though the GPS showed it was supposed to go straight forward. Finally, “creeping out” at a four-way stop sign to see traffic from either side just took too long.
On the plus side, it was great at stop lights, etc. Most impressively, however, I was in the left lane of a four-lane route at night, with a median, when the car came to a rather abrupt stop. At first, I didn’t know why. But the car had seen a person in all black clothing on a dark bicycle in the asphalt part of the median, who was riding. The car clearly thought that this person was going to cross in front of me. I would have thought so, too, but I never saw them in the dark. Score one for the car over the human.
In sum, it was a great trip in the EV. Chargers were fast and plentiful, although hotels must improve. Battery life was as expected, and the comfort of the drive was outstanding. Someone needs to create a route planning app that is more flexible and adjustable for lengthy trips. But my EV enabled me to see friends and family that I hadn’t seen in years, and I look forward to doing it again!