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Road Trip

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John Benson's picture
Senior Consultant, Microgrid Labs

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Microgrid Labs, Inc. Advisor: 2014 to Present Developed product plans, conceptual and preliminary designs for projects, performed industry surveys and developed...

  • Member since 2013
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  • Feb 5, 2021

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I write frequently about various electric vehicles and related subjects. Currently the most popular types of road-going electric vehicle are battery electric vehicles (BEVs). These are very practical for most applications, being extremely cost-effective and reliable. However, there is one class of consumer that may have an issue, those prone to take extended road trips.

The range of current state-of-the-art BEVs is 300 to 400 miles, furthermore there are many charging stations along most highways. But road trips are frequently longer than 300 miles, and note the “most”. Even in BEV-crazy California, I have noted some areas where there are few charging facilities, and those that exist have limited capabilities.

The above describes a problem and an opportunity.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Feb 5, 2021

The range of current state-of-the-art BEVs is 300 to 400 miles, furthermore there are many charging stations along most highways. But road trips are frequently longer than 300 miles, and note the “most”.

I'd also note that those are the stated ranges for ideal conditions, and in practice I find I need to plan to charge significantly more frequently on long trips-- especially if I hit range anxiety about embarking on the next long stretch before the next known charger!

John Benson's picture
John Benson on Feb 6, 2021

It sounds like you are making a business case for the BEVies.


Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Feb 8, 2021

Given Americans drive an average of 29 miles/day, most families can save a lot of money - and maintenance - by owning one utility vehicle (SUV or SUV Hybrid) and an EV.

The EV can handle the bulk of driving chores, and a fill-up costs $4. No oil, oil filters, radiator, hoses, spark plugs, transmission, alternator, generator, belts, or air filter.

The family of one of my clients owns 2 EVs and no gasoline-powered car. When they take road trips, they rent one. For them it's more cost-effective, but probably wouldn't be for someone who needs to travel long distances on a regular basis, or lives in a northern state.

In extreme cold only EVs with internal heaters will work at all. 30-40°F weather will cut your EV's range in half, unless you're able to keep it parked in a warm garage.

John Miller's picture
John Miller on Feb 8, 2021

John, traveling cross-country via BEV’s someday will definitely require massive expansions of ‘renewable electric’ power supplies and the numbers of more remote BEV battery charging stations.  Unfortunately, it will most likely take multiple decades to develop and install the huge cross-country charging stations infrastructures as you reference & cover.  As I am sure you are aware, the availabilities of renewable charging stations will be highly limited and slow to develop, since travel routines will vary by state/region, and, likely take multiple decades to fully define, build and reliably/cost effectively operate. 

The shorter-term longer route charging stations’ operations requirements will likely initially include ‘prepaying/prescheduling’ one’s use of the limited available charging stations along specific travel routes & corridors for some period of time.  This unfortunately means substantially less flexibility/Residents’ abilities to utilize BEV’s for daily/weekly road trips longer than 300-400 miles in at least the next decade or two.  And, based on basic market’s supplies-demands & associated markets’ BEV recharging costs, increased prices vs. shorter trips with single battery charge travel distances, will be another major factor affecting this transportation mode and needed battery charging infrastructure(s).

There will obvious be many variables that will impact this mode of transportation in the future.  Besides Government’s regulatory pros-n-cons or tax benefits and full capital/operating costs, there will be technology options that need to be considered.  One example is an action once considered by Tesla; exchanging/remotely installing ‘fully charged’ batteries at each charging station.  Unfortunately, this idea failed to become a reality in recent years, but is still another option to expediting the recharging of BEV’s as needed; for both shorter- and longer-range travel.  Of course, verses other than just using ones’ personal residential garage charging station each night and/or sitting at remote charging stations for hours as needed to fully recharge one’s BEV non-exchangeable battery.

John Benson's picture
John Benson on Feb 8, 2021


I agree that EVs are challenged by very cold weather, and since I live in California, I'm not completely sure what provisions EV manufacturers have made for these. However, since I spent a year commuting to Minneapolis when I worked for Siemens, I know that many hotels have plugs on their parking spaces for block / lead-acid battery heaters, and have for (at least) several decades. This is so the IC vehicles will start on a sub-zero morning. I would think that, although these would not be very useful for charging EVs, they would be useful for keeping their batteries warm.


My sometime employer (Microgrid Labs) has implement large microgrids at two military basses in my area. The largest of these had (I believe) 12 MW of PV and a several MW-hr. battery energy storage system. This is what I have in mind for BEVies. The PV arrays would (at least) completely cover the parking lot plus on top of all of the buildings.

We may need to use other renewable sources in areas that are not as sunny as my home state (CA), but I would hope that some form of local renewable generation could be used for most of the demand, possibly supplemented with contracted renewables over the grid.


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Thank John for the Post!
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