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We Spent $95 To Drive 2,700 Miles On A Summer season Roadtrip. Life With An EV Is Candy Certainly

For the second yr in a row, my household launched into an enormous EV street journey. 5 of us — my spouse, 3 year-old, 7-year-old, and 17-year outdated alternate pupil — piled right into a rented Mannequin 3 and drove 2,661 miles throughout the Northeast to see household and mates and luxuriate in seven lovely states. What blew our thoughts is how little we spent on gas for our trip. Whereas the remainder of the gas-bound world winces every time they replenish on the fuel pump, the electrical gas for the 1000’s of miles we drove didn’t even come to $100.

Planning An EV Highway Journey

Final yr we drove our personal Mannequin 3 cross nation from Portland to Ohio, crossing 2700 miles on our manner east and taking a 5,000-mile, 12-state, scenic southern route again. This yr we flew throughout many of the nation (in one among our more and more uncommon flights, which we later offset) and thus regarded for an EV to hire. That is sadly nonetheless a problem. Hertz, for instance, 9 months after its large announcement about shopping for 100,000 Teslas, solely has the autos accessible for hire in 25 cities, and after we booked our rental a pair months in the past, this quantity was even decrease. Our solely choice to hire an EV was the peer-to-peer automobile sharing web site, Turo.

After scanning the Columbus, Ohio, neighborhood and taking a look at a dozen or so choices, we booked Markus’ white Tesla Mannequin 3 for our month-long street journey. To be sincere, we didn’t contemplate any choices apart from Tesla to hire. We’ve owned a Mannequin 3 for 3 years, and regardless of being actually enthusiastic about all new EVs from different automakers and the quickly bettering quick charging networks throughout the US (in addition to our annoyance with Elon and his all-too public shenanigans), we all know from expertise that the Tesla built-in charging community is leaps and bounds forward of anything. We beforehand owned a primary era Nissan Leaf, and I’ve pushed many different electrical autos via my earlier job at a nonprofit selling electrical transportation, and except for Tesla’s supercharger community, it’s nonetheless sadly a crap shoot as as to if you’ll have sufficient chargers or the chargers might be working while you present as much as gas your car.

What We Paid For The Journey

Renting any automobile today is dear. It looks like not too way back, you might hire a automobile for underneath $500 for a month, however a fast scan of a month-to-month automobile rental in Columbus, Ohio (the place we picked up and dropped off our car) exhibits the bottom priced fuel automobile at practically $1,300. 

However renting a fuel automobile wasn’t an choice for us.  We’ve been proud EV house owners since 2017, and it’s laborious to return to loud engines and smoking tailpipes which might be immediately feeding the climate-crisis after tasting the silent, easy, tailpipe-less different. 

Markus’ Mannequin 3 value us $2,000 for a 31-day rental, which got here to $64 a day. We booked a number of months forward and benefited from a month-to-month worth low cost, so I’m unsure if that’s precisely consultant of the value for a shorter time period summer time EV road-trip. (As an apart, it additionally feels good to know that, in utilizing Turo, most of our rental cost goes to an entrepreneuring particular person quite than a big company.)


We began the journey in Columbus, OH, then drove to Pittsburgh, PA, to go to household after which to New York Metropolis for 4 days of car-less enjoyable. From there we drove to Portland, ME, and spent a couple of days exploring pure magnificence and seashores, visiting household and mates, and getting a piece tour of one of many finest state effectivity and warmth pump packages within the nation (thanks, Andy Mayer and Effectivity Maine). Then we had been off for one more lengthy day of driving to see mates in Syracuse, NY, after which to Cleveland, OH, and at last again to Columbus handy over the automobile and return house. This route meant that we had 4 lengthy days of driving, averaging over 400 miles per day, which meant when not driving we had been nearly all the time plugged in.

Our Northeast EV street journey map

On this summer time’s journey, we stopped at 12 Tesla Superchargers and by no means needed to fear a few dangerous charging expertise. As Northwesterners on a journey throughout the nation, we additionally appreciated that the automobile would plan our complete journey for us, calculating precisely which chargers we would want to cease at in Tesla’s huge community, and the way a lot time we might spend at every one.  This method is an immense aggressive benefit for Tesla (and can stay so till charging stations are as ubiquitous as fuel stations and/or different automakers construct their very own charging networks), and makes Tesla EV street journeys as straightforward, if not simpler, than ICE ones. 

My daughter’s favourite picture op, Picture courtesy of Joseph Wachunas

Alternatively, Tesla has raised the value of supercharging dramatically prior to now few years — from 24 cents per kWh in lots of locations a pair years in the past, to now 45 cents or extra at each station we visited on our journey. 

This monopoly on charging is an actual danger to the buyer, as Tesla (which makes up 70% of the present EV market) can seemingly increase its costs at whim. There isn’t a lot competitors to maintain this grasping, company temptation in examine as a result of Tesla drivers can’t cost at most different stations with out an adapter.

Superchargers are nice, however costly. Happily, there are numerous cheaper shops to gas your car at your vacation spot. Image courtesy of Joseph Wachunas

The excellent news is that even on a street journey, drivers aren’t depending on Tesla for all, and even most, of their gas. We charged 12 instances at Superchargers, getting 206 kWh of electrical gas from Tesla, and this value us $95. However our complete journey used 517 kWh (the equal of 14 gallons of fuel) and the opposite 311 kWh (60% of our gas) got here from plugging into customary 110 volt out of doors shops at our beneficiant hosts’ properties. 

Charging at my cousins’ home in Maine, Picture courtesy of Joseph Wachunas

We plugged in at nearly each in a single day cease on our journey, together with a parking storage in NYC. An essential lesson is that electrical fueling alternatives are in all places, and solely prices the outlet proprietor a pair further bucks on a month-to-month electrical invoice. Tesla house owners are depending on the now costly (however undoubtedly nonetheless value it) Tesla Supercharger community for quick charging on days with lengthy drives, however they will complement this charging with nearly every other outlet in a position to slowly gas their autos for one fifth the price of fuel.

The Tesla we rented from Markus is likely one of the few Mannequin 3s with solely 215 miles of vary because it was an effort to meet its promise of a $35,000 EV. Our automobile at house has 310 miles of vary, and we weren’t fairly certain how the decrease vary mannequin would measure up on days with 400-500 miles of driving. It ended up being completely positive with nearly the identical comfort as our longer vary car. On longer days, it could have required three charging stops as a substitute of two, however when touring with younger youngsters, stopping each 2-3 hours for 15-20 minutes is sort of a requirement in any case.

One factor that helped is that we averaged an superior 194 watt-hours per mile over the journey, which interprets to one thing like 160 mpg for ICE automobiles, which helped scale back our charging wants. That is largely attributable to our seasoned hypermiling skills the place we don’t drive quick and preserve the home windows down as a substitute of blasting the AC. This makes every kWh go additional. My spouse additionally graciously places up with me checking how environment friendly she’s driving each half-hour or so too. On this journey, I’m proud to say the scholar has turn out to be the grasp, and he or she ended up beating my common.

Our remaining journey stats. Pay attention to our proud 194 watt-hours per mile! Image courtesy of Joseph Wachunas

Closing Stats

All in all, our huge EV street journey was wonderful — good visits, good websites, good transportation, and good instances. We spent $95 in electrical fueling prices to drive 2,661 miles. If we had rented a fuel automobile that obtained 25 mpg, with fuel at $5.00 per gallon (the common worth throughout our journey), we might have spent $532 on gasoline, and funded petro-states, petro-corporations, and the local weather disaster. As an alternative we saved $437 in gas prices on our journey and these gas financial savings nearly brings the Tesla rental to value parity with an ICE automobile street journey. We spent a mere $286 extra for a full month of driving a Tesla, which gives a superior driving expertise on so many ranges. 

Kind of automobile rental Month-long Rental Value Fueling Value Whole Value
Tesla Mannequin 3 $2,000 $95 $2095
Most cost-effective ICE automobile $1,277 $532 $1809

Be aware that the electrical fueling prices above don’t account for the 311 kWh we charged at our hosts’ homes. At 15 cents per kWh, this may add one other $47 of their bills, and doesn’t actually change the purpose. 

Some handy superchargers within the NE had been positioned at Interstate relaxation stops the place we might use the lavatory and cost rapidly even after we weren’t planning on it. Be aware the photo voltaic panels feeding vitality on to the automobile. Image courtesy of Joseph Wachunas

Given the excessive fuel costs today, I hope our journey exhibits how a lot monetary sense it makes to hire, drive, and should you haven’t already accomplished so, purchase an EV. Even with the restricted electrical rental autos accessible and the fee premiums of a deluxe Tesla, our bills had been nearly comparable with renting any low-cost ol’ fuel automobile. Simply think about the close to future when many extra autos are electrical and charging stations are ubiquitous. We’ll have arrived within the promised land the place the bottom value choice is the one maintaining our skies and planet clear.

Make sure that to wash your Tesla after you hire it! Picture courtesy of Joseph Wachunas

Enormous due to Naomi Cole, my hypermiling life accomplice of 15 years for her superior edits and contributions to this text.


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