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Home Road Trip Our Volkswagen ID4 Teaches Us the Right Way to Road Trip With an EV

Our Volkswagen ID4 Teaches Us the Right Way to Road Trip With an EV

by Staff

We took a road trip in our 2022 Volkswagen ID4 Pro yearlong tester over the holidays to see family in Sacramento, California. The drive from Los Angeles usually takes around six hours in a gas-powered vehicle, but we knew going in we’d be making at least one stop, since our trip was approximately 380 miles—or about 100 miles beyond the estimated range of our ID4.

We charged the battery to 100 percent the night before leaving and cruised at 80 mph up Interstate 5 to our first charging stop, 209 miles away. Eight Electrify America charging stations sit in the parking lot of the famed Harris Ranch Restaurant, 190 miles shy of Sacramento and a stone’s throw away from one the first and most popular stops on Tesla’s Supercharger network.

We arrived with 9 percent left on our battery, highlighted in a mildly disconcerting red on the instrument cluster, and with 22 miles of estimated range remaining. Unfortunately, all the Electrify America chargers were occupied, so we consulted a couple of different charging apps for other options, and behold, less than a mile away across the freeway, were three ChargePoint fast chargers. When we pulled up, only one was occupied, by a Polestar 2.

We soon realized why: All were broken, as confirmed by the departing Polestar driver. A few feet away, however, were two small, pathetic-looking level 2 6.2-kW chargers. Hungry and a bit frustrated, we plugged in, ate some sandwiches, and evaluated our options. Clearly, charging on the 6.2-kW stations would not work; at 20 miles of range per hour, it would take us at least 8 hours to acquire the range to make it to our destination—and we’d still have to drive to it.

We ultimately decided to go back to the Electrify America chargers to wait it out and scored a 350-kW Level 3 charger as soon as we pulled up. Any guilt jumping on to it, despite our ID4’s maximum charge rate of 135 kW? Nope. In the following ten minutes, two other chargers would free up, only to be snagged by others waiting. During our roughly 40-minute charge, I noted six EVs pulling up to wait at this bank of chargers—one Chevrolet Bolt EV, one Kia EV6, two Rivian R1Ts, and two Hyundai Ioniq 5s.

Nobody had to wait very long, but Julia made another observation: “This is one of the busiest highway travel corridors in the state with the highest concentration of EVs in the U.S.” It was also during one of the most traveled holiday weeks of the year, and her point was more than valid.

In all, our stop was a full 90 minutes: 43 minutes spent on the charger (pushing the battery to 90 percent state of charge) and the rest spent bopping between charger, eating, bathrooming, entertaining our 2-year-old, and mildly panicking.

On the way back to Los Angeles from Sacramento, we debated trying the alternate route, State Route 99, a considerably less traveled, three-lane highway that runs roughly parallel to Interstate 5. But a check of the available EV chargers made this idea a non-starter. Instead, we opted for a two-stop strategy. We didn’t have to wait for any chargers, and each stop was shorter than the one long stop we made on the way up. However, with snacks, shopping, charger hunting, and traffic, what was normally a six-hour trip ended up being over eight. But it wasn’t wasted time. We learned three things:

Tip 1: Trust (but verify) the route planning.

Tip 2: More, shorter stops.

Maxing out the range and making a single long stop may sound like a good plan, but it’s a rookie move. Consider shorter, more frequent charging stops—and do so well before your miles remaining runs into single digits. This will give you more flexibility on your journey in case chargers are broken or there are long wait times. This is what the ID4’s route planning software recommended, but we ignored it.

Tip 3: Slow down.

Just as you’ll achieve your best fuel economy in an internal combustion car when you’re traveling closer to 55 mph than 85 mph, you’re better off keeping your highway speeds closer to the legal limit when driving an EV. This is especially important if you’re carrying anything on the roof, climbing a mountain, or towing.

For More On Our Long-Term Volkswagen ID4 Pro:

2022 Volkswagen ID4 Pro Specifications
SERVICE LIFE 7 mo/8,736 mi
BASE/AS TESTED PRICE $42,525/$42,525
EPA CTY/HWY/CMB FUEL ECON; CMB RANGE 116/98/107 mpg-e; 275 miles
DELIGHTS A trip planning app.
ANNOYANCES Range and charge speed could be better.

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