Challenges of charging when away from home

shareef777

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Taking a trip up to Detroit (coming from Chicago). Topped up the charge of my 3 to 90% and hit the road. Made the first leg of the drive (~2.5hrs/150mi) and was down to just under 20% SOC. Kinda sucks as it’d mean I’d have only ~220mi on a full charge. Plugged into a SC in Portage, MI and stopped into the Meijer for a bio break and snacks for kids. Took us about 30min in/out and came back to ~80% SOC. Continued the remaining 150mi and arrived with a 10% SOC. Again, not very good averaging 220mi on a full battery. Average consumption was 290wh/mi. Essentially I’m attributing the 10kWH “battery loss” to running the heater.

The trouble really didn’t start till we arrived. Stayed at a Marriot and was told it has EV charging in the parking lot. Pulled up ~9pm and asked valet if he can plug in my EV while we stayed overnight. I was shocked to be told that he can’t do that and I’d have to self park to charge. Figured no biggie, where’s the lot? Pulled into the lot and drive around for 20min trying to find a Tesla charger (or any other charger, even a freaking outlet). After not finding anything I pulled out (was charged $10 cause I was in the lot for a while trying to find a charger). Asked attendant and he said he wasn’t sure where they were. Figured I’d just go down the block to another lot. Found one and was dismayed to read the sign say there’s a 3hr limit to charging. To make matters worse, the destination charger was limited to 3kW!!! Plugged in and left.

I rarely charge away from home and my vehicles are generally home for 99% of their lives. Gotta say, this very infrequent trip has taught me that EVs are FAR from being mainstream.
 
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FRC

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Taking a trip up to Detroit (coming from Chicago). Topped up the charge of my 3 to 90% and hit the road. Made the first leg of the drive (~2.5hrs/150mi) and was down to just under 20% SOC. Kinda sucks as it’d mean I’d have only ~220mi on a full charge. Plugged into a SC in Portage, MI and stopped into the Meijer for a bio break and snacks for kids. Took us about 30min in/out and came back to ~80% SOC. Continued the remaining 150mi and arrived with a 10% SOC. Again, not very good averaging 220mi on a full battery. Average consumption was 290wh/mi. Essentially I’m attributing the 10kWH “battery loss” to running the heater.

The trouble really didn’t start till we arrived. Stayed at a Marriot and was told it has EV charging in the parking lot. Pulled up ~9pm and asked valet if he can plug in my EV while we stayed overnight. I was shocked to be told that he can’t do that and I’d have to self park to charge. Figured no biggie, where’s the lot? Pulled into the lot and drive around for 20min trying to find a Tesla charger (or any other charger, even a freaking outlet). After not finding anything I pulled out (was charged $10 cause I was in the lot for a while trying to find a charger). Asked attendant and he said he wasn’t sure where they were. Figured I’d just go down the block to another lot. Found one and was dismayed to read the sign say there’s a 3hr limit to charging. To make matters worse, the destination charger was limited to 3kW!!! Plugged in and left.

I rarely charge away from home and my vehicles are generally home for 99% of their lives. Gotta say, this very infrequent trip has taught me that EVs are FAR from being mainstream.
Plugshare.com is a must. In 80K miles of road trips, I've never encountered the troubles you describe. Detroit is far from a charging desert, but a large difference between travelling in an EV vs an ICE is the need for a bit of planning, and the need for a backup plan.

As for the range concerns, your numbers sound about right for interstate speeds in cold weather, carrying the family and luggage, and running the heater. To achieve displayed range my consumption cannot exceed 220 wh/m. But this is rarely an issue since, like you, 150 miles is about as far as I care to travel between stops.
 

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Seems like the Marriott in that location is more out of the mainstream, than EVs. Where I live every hotel has its own Tesla chargers for their guests and have no limits or fees.

However, FRC is right. Always have a plan “B” backup such as a PlugShare account.
 
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shareef777

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To be clear, this was never about range anxiety. At no point did I think I’d be stranded or not find any charging options. It’s the “planning” and “backups” that I had a problem with.

I PLANNED to charge at the hotel considering they stated they had EV charging. They didn’t! My BACKUP plan was a lot right next to my hotel (10min walk), but PlugShare didn’t mention that there was a 3hr charging limit (stated 24/7, but suppose that was in reference to parking, not charging. Plugshare should only list limits about charging as that’s the only reason people use it). Worse is that PlugShare listed the lot at 12kw (it was only 3), so 12hours parked/charging (hope I don’t find my car ticketed or damaged out of spite) I’m at 48% instead of the expected 90%. Now I need to tell my group I need to stop off at a SC after charging my car overnight in a parking lot.

Point was that the other people in my group that took ICE vehicles were definitely put off by the troubles I had to go through. It’s not very often we need to do these trips, but this still stuck in their head nonetheless. They were all checked in and in their hotel rooms while I figured out my charging. They woke up and are ready for breakfast while I continue to figure out my charging. It’s the Wild West when it comes to charging outside a SC and that’s not a good look for EVs.
 

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Point was that the other people in my group that took ICE vehicles were definitely put off by the troubles I had to go through.

You should definitely point out that it was in large part your own fault for not planning accordingly! That's the lesson they should be learning instead of that EV's are not viable.

And you really should have checked Plugshare, and also called the hotel and asked them if they actually had charging and where it's located. That last question is important, because sometimes a hotel will list charging available when they mean it's on another party's property and/or 15 minutes away. If they have no control over it, there's a high chance of it disappearing or it never existing (because the 3rd party claimed it was there but it wasn't).

While this kind of thing is more common with EV's than with ICE vehicles, I have seen similar things happen with ICE vehicles. There are areas even inside cities that are gas station deserts, and you could drive miles out of the way trying to find gas. What people tend to do that live or work in those areas is plan ahead for a fill-up side trip when they need it - pretty much the same as EV drivers.

The difference will be in the near future - because electricity is everywhere and doesn't require extensive permitting, infrastructure, and environmental impact studies, charging stations can pop up anywhere. Gas stations, on the other hand, are a shrinking footprint as the companies that own them consolidate into larger stations that are further apart to keep down construction and operation costs.
 
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garsh

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You should definitely point out that it was in large part your own fault for not planning accordingly!
The planning he performed should have been adequate. Sometimes the hotel staff isn't made aware of the EV charging stations - they really should be trained better.
 

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The planning he performed should have been adequate. Sometimes the hotel staff isn't made aware of the EV charging stations - they really should be trained better.
I agree @garsh. He had a primary and backup solution. Sometimes bad information/bad luck can foil even the well-prepared. Had this happened in a charging desert, it could have been a major inconvenience. Luckily, in Detroit there are dozens of charging solutions available. And if bad luck forces a 15 minute side trip to a SC, thems the breaks!
 
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Point was that the other people in my group that took ICE vehicles were definitely put off by the troubles I had to go through.
Many of us like to pretend that it is just as easy to travel in an EV as it is in an ICE. Many times it is, but not always. I have embraced the changes necessary to do all my long distance trips in an EV, but it has not been totally free of challenges. In October we were in the Rockies experiencing spurious road closures and uncertain detours due to weather and other unknown issues. We stopped at extra charging opportunities because of this, taking notable extra time on a 700 mile day. It wasn’t the original plan and it was far from ideal.

I also agree that destination charging at hotels is a weak link and has a lot of room for improvement.
 

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The planning he performed should have been adequate. Sometimes the hotel staff isn't made aware of the EV charging stations - they really should be trained better.

To a seasoned EV owner, that's true. But if he's thinking about how to convince other people, he can point out there's a good chance it could have been solved in advance by calling the hotel first. The scariest thing you can tell someone looking at EV's but unsure about it is, "Oh, well, this happens and it can't be helped". It's true sometimes, but you also want them to know that there is often a way to prevent it as well.

Side note though: The hotel staff might become more aware of the charging station status when they're being asked about it a lot more (i.e. when more EV's are around).
 

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Back when I had an ICE car, I did run out of gas a few times, although that was more my pushing it than due to unpleasant surprises. But I've also had some unpleasant surprises where I came close.

One was in, of all places, upper Manhattan late at night. I was quite low on gas, and as I recall it was hard to find a gas station (this was before smart phones) and the ones I found were closed. I ended up having to drive quite a ways along Broadway until I found one, but it was nerve-wracking.

The other time that I recall was when I was taking a road trip through Eastern Oregon. It was during the day, but the small towns I was passing through either didn't have a gas station, or the gas station was closed, or it looked so sketchy I was afraid to stop. I was in a rural enough area that I was not generally getting cellular service (this was 2011), so it wasn't easy to know when I'd find a gas station I could use.

With PlugShare and the SC network, I've never been quite as worried as those two times in an ICE car. But that's comparing the current Tesla experience to driving an ICE car of a decade ago or more. (Nowadays, I think internet coverage will also show ICE drivers where to find open gas stations.) So it's not so much that charging EV cars now is as worry-free as getting gas for ICE cars now, as that charging EV cars now involves a level of anxiety that people who have driven ICE cars for twenty years have likely already experienced.
 

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Back when I had an ICE car, I did run out of gas a few times, although that was more my pushing it than due to unpleasant surprises. But I've also had some unpleasant surprises where I came close.

One was in, of all places, upper Manhattan late at night. I was quite low on gas, and as I recall it was hard to find a gas station (this was before smart phones) and the ones I found were closed. I ended up having to drive quite a ways along Broadway until I found one, but it was nerve-wracking.

The other time that I recall was when I was taking a road trip through Eastern Oregon. It was during the day, but the small towns I was passing through either didn't have a gas station, or the gas station was closed, or it looked so sketchy I was afraid to stop. I was in a rural enough area that I was not generally getting cellular service (this was 2011), so it wasn't easy to know when I'd find a gas station I could use.

With PlugShare and the SC network, I've never been quite as worried as those two times in an ICE car. But that's comparing the current Tesla experience to driving an ICE car of a decade ago or more. (Nowadays, I think internet coverage will also show ICE drivers where to find open gas stations.) So it's not so much that charging EV cars now is as worry-free as getting gas for ICE cars now, as that charging EV cars now involves a level of anxiety that people who have driven ICE cars for twenty years have likely already experienced.

Yep, things change. I live in Oregon and that stretch from area from western Idaho to Bend,Or. now has a Tesla a Supercharger in Baker City, about 230 miles from Bend. Hines, next to Burns also has a Supercharger...about 130 miles from Bend.
 
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shareef777

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Back when I had an ICE car, I did run out of gas a few times, although that was more my pushing it than due to unpleasant surprises. But I've also had some unpleasant surprises where I came close.

One was in, of all places, upper Manhattan late at night. I was quite low on gas, and as I recall it was hard to find a gas station (this was before smart phones) and the ones I found were closed. I ended up having to drive quite a ways along Broadway until I found one, but it was nerve-wracking.

The other time that I recall was when I was taking a road trip through Eastern Oregon. It was during the day, but the small towns I was passing through either didn't have a gas station, or the gas station was closed, or it looked so sketchy I was afraid to stop. I was in a rural enough area that I was not generally getting cellular service (this was 2011), so it wasn't easy to know when I'd find a gas station I could use.

With PlugShare and the SC network, I've never been quite as worried as those two times in an ICE car. But that's comparing the current Tesla experience to driving an ICE car of a decade ago or more. (Nowadays, I think internet coverage will also show ICE drivers where to find open gas stations.) So it's not so much that charging EV cars now is as worry-free as getting gas for ICE cars now, as that charging EV cars now involves a level of anxiety that people who have driven ICE cars for twenty years have likely already experienced.

In 25 years of driving, I've ran out of gas exactly zero times. There's simply no excuse when the fuel indicator would mean I have 50+ miles left and it'd literally be a 5minute interruption to my day to day errands to completely fill up.

With all due respect, that makes no sense. PlugShare is a community sourced data repository so prone to inaccurate or completely wrong information. As for the SC network, as great as it is, the navigation system doesn't leverage them ideally. On my way back from Detroit, it had me stop off at a SC that was limited to 120kW stalls when another one that was only a few minutes further was available that had 250kW stalls (and I was arriving with 10% SOC so the V3 stalls would have been the much wiser choice).
 

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In 25 years of driving, I've ran out of gas exactly zero times. There's simply no excuse when the fuel indicator would mean I have 50+ miles left and it'd literally be a 5minute interruption to my day to day errands to completely fill up.

With all due respect, that makes no sense. PlugShare is a community sourced data repository so prone to inaccurate or completely wrong information. As for the SC network, as great as it is, the navigation system doesn't leverage them ideally. On my way back from Detroit, it had me stop off at a SC that was limited to 120kW stalls when another one that was only a few minutes further was available that had 250kW stalls (and I was arriving with 10% SOC so the V3 stalls would have been the much wiser choice).
With experience, v2 v v3 is one of the basics that you learn to look for. I rarely charge specifically where the nav system suggests. I expect that in time, the car will give alternate charging stops, but it's not there yet. As for your charging woes in Detroit, it sounds like the problem wasn't the weakness of the EV charging network, but human error (the valet's, not yours). That's a problem that's hard to fix.
 
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DocScott

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In 25 years of driving, I've ran out of gas exactly zero times. There's simply no excuse when the fuel indicator would mean I have 50+ miles left and it'd literally be a 5minute interruption to my day to day errands to completely fill up.

With all due respect, that makes no sense. PlugShare is a community sourced data repository so prone to inaccurate or completely wrong information. As for the SC network, as great as it is, the navigation system doesn't leverage them ideally. On my way back from Detroit, it had me stop off at a SC that was limited to 120kW stalls when another one that was only a few minutes further was available that had 250kW stalls (and I was arriving with 10% SOC so the V3 stalls would have been the much wiser choice).
Wow--you've never been in a situation where getting gas is more than a 5-minute detour when you're down to ~50 miles in the tank? I-70 has no exits in Utah between Green River and Salina, which is 110 miles. So if you only had 60 miles left in the tank when you left Green River, you'd run out of gas...as happens to many motorists on that route. There are SuperChargers at Green River, and at Richfield (which is admittedly about 10 miles past Salina), so the gap is quite similar.

And that's on an interstate! There are plenty of gas deserts on backroads, particularly late at night.

Yes, PlugShare is community sourced--as is GasBuddy, which is the ICE equivalent. I've found PlugShare is quite accurate...it seems to be more accurate for charging than, e.g., Google Maps. Sometimes it has an obscure location that is now closed, but then there won't have been any check-ins for quite a while.

All I'm saying is that there have always been situations where driving an ICE car warranted planning in regards to refueling. If you've never experienced those in 25 years of driving and I have in 40 years of driving, then we've just had different experiences.
 

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All I'm saying is that there have always been situations where driving an ICE car warranted planning in regards to refueling. If you've never experienced those in 25 years of driving and I have in 40 years of driving, then we've just had different experiences.

What's funny is, I had that happen near constantly, inside a suburb, and it was part of the reason I decided on an EV.

When I was still working in an office in 2018, all of the gas stations were on the opposite side of the road on the way to work. That meant if I needed gas, either I had to make a total of 3 left turns to get into the station (buy gas) and then get back on the route to work. The end result was that I usually decided to try and remember to stop on the way home. Then I forgot, and I ended up being forced to make a 3-left-turn stop on the way to work the next day. Usually while also running late. So one of the primary attractions of an EV was charge at home and never deal with the stress of that again.

It's kind of funny, that could be considered a kind of range anxiety - worrying about having to make 3 left turns to buy fuel. So I actually solved range anxiety by going EV.
 
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Courtyard by Marriott (333 East Jefferson Ave). Valet said they can't plug in my car, but found that the chargers were located at a closed off part of the parking structure available only to the valet :tmi:
I spent some time looking for charge station in the vacinity of that Marriot. There is a Tesla Destination charger but it is about 8 blocks away and I could find no reference at the Jefferson Courtyard Marriott web site or any other place refrencing a charge station at the Hotel. Not doubting you for a minute, but Marriot should get push back, the more the better. Not the way to run a modern hotel.
 
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