So, I will be driving from Denver to Santa Barbara with my two teen-age daughters in my all-electric 2017 Chevy Bolt starting tomorrow, Tues., July 24, with a planned arrival date in Santa Barbara of Thurs., July 26.
I planned the trip out using an app called PlugShare — plugshare.com. Three days, and two nights. Normally, the 1,200- mile trip would be done in two days, but with an electric car that is not a Tesla, one must count on taking extra time for road trips, at least out here in the wide open spaces of the American West.
There just are not enough DCFC fast charging stations here yet. In fact, until recently, there was not a single fast-charging station along I-70 from Kansas City to Cedar City, Utah. That’s 1,100 miles of a major U.S. interstate highway without a single DCFC fast charger!! Fortunately, two DCFC stations went online during the past six weeks, one in Glenwood Springs, Colo. and the other in Grand Junction, Colo.
Trouble is, EV charging stations are notoriously unreliable. And, it already looks as if that lack of reliability could hit me on this 1,200-mile trip from Denver to Santa Barbara
I am seeing via the Chevy Bolt Owner’s Club on Facebook that a key Chargepoint DCFC charger that I planned on relying on to help get me from Green River KOA to Las Vegas on Wed., July 25 may not be working. That would throw a major kink into my plans, as I have already booked, and paid for, a room at the Excalibur in Vegas where I was planning on charging my Chevy Bolt overnight.
If I have to charge instead at a 240v charger — which often limit charging sessions to two hours, and which are much slower than DCFC fast charging stations — this Wednesday because the Chargepoint Cedar City, Utah charger is out of order, we might not make it to Vegas in time to stay at the Excalibur on Wednesday night.
Tjaaa…such is the state of the long-distance EV road trip. Cars that have enough range — 238 miles in the case of my Chevy Bolt — to make road trips feasible (my 2014 LEAF had just 84 miles of range; NOT feasible for a road trip) make the long-distance road trip enticing. But the lack of a reliable long-distance charging infrastructure makes those long-distance road trips far more of an adventure than they should be, unless, of course, you have a Tesla and have paid for access to its amazing Supercharger network, with 6,000+ stations placed along all major U.S. interstates.
I can’t afford a Tesla — as you might know, the $35,000 Tesla still hasn’t arrived, and Tesla does not offer affordable leases, at least not that I know of (my Bolt costs me just $338 per month to lease), and the Bolt is my only car in my post divorce household. With 238 miles of range, that IS enough to make the Bolt a reasonable only car — if only the charging long-distance infrastructure were up to par.
Stay tuned…as I give you the play-by-play of our (hopefully just) three-day, 1,200-mile road trip from Denver to Santa Barbara, Calif. 😉