In a recent article Randy Carlson studied in considerable detail what road trips in electric cars are like compared to ICE cars (ICE = Internal Combustion Engine).
A car of the calibre of a Tesla Model S with its 85kWh battery pack can do nearly 500km on a charge so it sounds like its ready for a road trip. The challenge is what kind of charging is there on the way and can it compete with a regular ICE car on such road trips?
Randy goes into depth, so let me save you the details and summarise here what he says:
A road trip is at highways speeds, so we’re talking 110km/h average. We all need a rest so lets say we stop every 300km for 30mins. Also, for big drives across the USA or the EU you would do a max of 4 such stretches of 300km in one day (I’ve done Madrid to the Alps myself in one day and I hated it, but Randy is American so 1200km per day is normal!). So that’s 300km, rest, 300km, lunch, 300km, rest, 300km sleep! Ouch!
The question is, can you recharge enough at each stop (I suppose lunch is more than 30mins right?) to keep up with the ICE car?
Randy is using the Tesla Supercharger network as the charge infrastructure (currently it covers the West coast and some of the East):
Well, the results are that on a large trip such as a US coast-to-coast, an ICE can do the 4635km in 48 hours 19 minutes of driving time while a Model S with the (under deployment) superchargers can do it in 53 hours 19 minutes of driving time.
An upgrade Tesla are preparing for their new superchargers called BlueStar means faster charging and a driving time of 49 hours 26 minutes for the electric sedan.
But they are even more similar when you get into the real scenario…
Essentially the ICE car would be driving for 4 days, 12 hours each day (quite enough for me) while the Model S would be driving with BlueStar 4 days, 12 hours 17 minutes each day (13 hours 15 minutes with current superchargers).
After 4 days both the ICE and the Model S would roll up to the coast with only a few minutes between the two. Both drivers would have rested each night about the same, and both would have preferred to fly!
The big difference is that the ICE driver would have spent about €400 on fuel while the Model S driver, as Tesla provide charging for free, would not have spent anything!!