Read This: EV Road Trips Are Still a Pain in the Ass

Thinking about taking an electric vehicle across the country? Get ready for a long ride.

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A parking space labeled “EV charging only” is becoming a more regular sight in California, but not many other states
A parking space labeled “EV charging only” is becoming a more regular sight in California, but not many other states
Photo: Mario Tama (Getty Images)

We know that the world is growing increasingly more interested in adopting more electric vehicles, but the reality here in America is still pretty bleak. And one new Wall Street Journal article by Rachel Wolfe shows just how bleak it can be.

The title alone — “I Rented an Electric Car for a Four-Day Road Trip. I Spent More Time Charging It Than I Did Sleeping.” — should probably tell you most of what you need to know about Wolfe’s EV impressions. She decided to rent an electric car for a road trip from New Orleans to Chicago and back, nabbing a new Kia EV6 with 310 miles of EPA-estimated range as her wheels of choice. Wolfe and her friend Mack had just four days to make the trip.

And then things went downhill. From the article:

I plotted a meticulous route, splitting our days into four chunks of roughly 7½-hours each. We’d need to charge once or twice each day and plug in near our hotel overnight.

The PlugShare app—a user-generated map of public chargers—showed thousands of charging options between New Orleans and Chicago. But most were classified as Level 2, requiring around 8 hours for a full charge.

While we’d be fine overnight, we required fast chargers during the days. ChargePoint Holdings Inc., which manufactures and maintains many fast-charging stations, promises an 80% charge in 20 to 30 minutes. Longer than stopping for gas—but good for a bite or bathroom break.

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Wolfe’s experiences continue to go downhill from there. Along the way, she finds she loses battery quickly and realizes “fast chargers” aren’t always as fast as advertised. Here’s just one harrowing example of the issues they face:

We feel defeated pulling into a Nissan Mazda dealership in Mattoon, Ill. “How long could it possibly take to charge the 30 miles we need to make it to the next fast station?” I wonder.

Three hours. It takes 3 hours.

Since the article was published, Wolfe has faced a lot of public backlash. People have asked why she didn’t take a specific route that would have landed on more fast chargers. People have accused her of speaking poorly of Tesla, even though the article was about her experiences with a Kia. And a lot of folks are claiming that she somehow intentionally wanted to make EVs look bad.

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That’s leaving out the main concern, though: If we’re really going to be swapping from ICE vehicles to EVs within the next decade, there’s so much work to be done when it comes to the public charging infrastructure — be it the installation of fast chargers or the maintenance required to guarantee those chargers will fill a battery at the advertised rate.

If we’re supposed to become an EV-forward country, we need to be able to cross the country in an electric vehicle at the drop of a hat. We shouldn’t have to spend hours carefully researching the best route, double-checking that recent reviews of certain chargers show they actually exist and can provide a charge as advertised. Not to forget, making sure those chargers even work.