I meet a lot of people that are curious about Tesla and electric vehicles in general. The number one question I get from everyone: how long does it take to charge? It’s a fair question, especially if you don’t know anything about EVs.
I can honestly tell you, that when I put the deposit on my Model 3 on April 1, 2016, I had no idea how I was going to charge. At the time, I was street parking my Civic in Chicago. I was trying to figure out at one point how I could take an extension cord from my house to the car. I know now, that would be very silly and wouldn’t work.
When you transition from an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) to an EV, the biggest fear among folks is how long it’s going to take. With an ICE car, I knew I can go 300+ miles easily, and fill ups take less than 5 mins. Lots of times, this argument is used against EV supporters as why they won’t work.
After driving with my through California’s safety-net of Superchargers, I understood the argument was flawed. But I really didn’t have empirical evidence to show it, or so I thought.
In February 2019, I flew to Chicago to drive my parents from the Chicago suburb of Woodridge to Missouri, Texas, just outside of Houston. There were 5 of us and 2 SUVs, 2016 Honda CRV & 2007 Lexus RX350. And since I was using Google Maps, my entire trip was captured on My Timeline on Maps, including where we stopped and how long each stop took.
So what did the data tell us? The first was the obvious: doesn’t matter how much gas you have in the tank, we are not driving from gas station to gas station without a stop. We found ourselves stopping on an average after 1 hour and 45 mins of driving. The longest stretch we drove was 202 miles in 2 hours and 15 mins.
There’s many reasons for our frequent stops. One, it’s just not that comfortable to drive hours on end. I’m sure if you are by yourself, you might sacrifice the comfort to get to your location faster. But once you start adding people, especially older folks or children to the ride, you are going to have to make frequent pit stops. Also, dealing with jet lag and getting up at 3 am to start driving didn’t help.
Also to note, our gas stops were not like a Formula One pit stop that everyone makes it out to be. You don’t get out, pump gas, and bolt. Especially on a longer drive, we are stretching and using this time to take any bathroom breaks, even though gas station bathrooms are pretty disgusting.
If I compare the driving habits to how I drive my Tesla, it’s pretty similar. I need to stop closer to 2-3 hours just get move around. The longest stretch I’ve done, was 204 miles in 3 hours, driving from Tejon Supercharger back home. I would have stopped on this leg in any other car because I was extremely exhausted. My saving grace was AutoPilot to keep me in my lane.
That said, long trips can be done on EVs. Wade (@WadeAndersonPT on Twitter) is showing the world that it can by doing a North American trip. If your trip is within range of the Superchargers, your trips will probably take the same time. Whereas if you have to go outside fast charging network, you’ll have to wait a little bit longer.
On my Chicago to Houston trip, my route would have been slightly different. The route we took was not on the interstate at times. If we used the route that Tesla provides that maximizes the Supercharger network, it would have taken 23 hours & 6 mins, instead of 19 hours on ICE on my Model 3.
As Tesla starts rolling out V3 Superchargers throughout the nation and adds more Superchargers, that 4 hour gap will become smaller and smaller. And as Full-Self Driving rolls out, we’ll be able to push ourselves to drive longer, depending on how your body or the kids are feeling. Very soon, time won’t be the distinction.
The amount of money you’ll save by not pumping gas is just more money that’ll be back in your pocket. Well, now one can spend that savings on frivolous things, such as food or better hotel rooms. Or just can save it all together. Choice is yours. At least the money isn’t being spent on gas which is polluting the air!
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