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Two Women Rented an EV for a 2,000-mile Road Trip, and It Was a Nightmare

Published: June 13, 2022
Two women had an EV nightmare together as the 2,000 mile road trip they took in a Kia turned out to be a range and charging station disaster.
This picture taken on June 1, 2021, shows Kia's glitzy, all-electric vehicle, EV6, during its showcase event in Seoul. Two women scheduled to make a roundtrip from New Orleans to Chicago and back in just four days, only to find out that, at present, such an undertaking is not possible without suffering from a series of nervous breakdowns. Because of underdeveloped infrastructure, modest technical performance, and low user-friendliness, EVs are not yet up to par to match combustion-driven cars. (Image: JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images)

Two women who planned a roundtrip from New Orleans to Chicago by electric vehicle thought they would enjoy a fun ride. Instead, they experienced a nerve-wracking nightmare.

Based on the reported battery range of up to 310 miles, the two intended to cover the 2,000-mile round trip in four days, evenly spread over approximately 7.5 hours of driving in a brand new Kia EV6 rental model.

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An elaborate narration of the odyssey can be found in the Wall Street Journal.

According to data aggregator EV-volumes, full-electric and hybrid car sales doubled last year to 656,866—or 4 percent of the total market—while more than half of consumers consider buying an EV as their next car, Ernst & Young Global Ltd. calculated.

The most trying adversities the duplet met with were the charging stations’ poor performances—sometimes due to poor public charging infrastructure—and too few fast charging stations—sometimes due to false promises; not all charging outlets lived up to the standard.

The adventurous pair based their plans on the PlugShare app, which showed countless charging opportunities along the way, albeit that most belonged to Level 2, the ones that take at least eight hours to squeeze enough juice to completely fill up a depleted battery.

EVs have a long way to go

The federal government is purportedly spending $5 billion on enhancing the infrastructure and building more hi-fi power facilities along the road, but, for now, most heavy-duty power chargers are located near suburban parking lots, gas stations, or car dealerships.

The honorable title of being “a fast charger,” which is determined by the number of kilowatts per hour the generator can spit out, is a broad one, and varies enormously from 25 kilowatts per hour to 350 kilowatts per hour. 

According to State of Charge, many fast chargers the ladies relied upon during their expedition did not meet the requirements. Some so-called fast chargers didn’t even meet the 25 kilowatts threshold.

“Even among DC fast chargers, there are different level chargers with different charging speeds,” a ChargePoint spokesperson told the outlet.

Utter frustration

On top of that, out of sheer frustration, the duo consumed an estimated 1,465 calories of junk food while they spent 18 hours waiting to recharge the car. They only caught 16 hours of sleep during the trip.

The fact that their rented EV6 also seemed to underperform in terms of driving range might be attributed to it being of a lower standard, Kia spokesperson James Bell told the author.

In that case, the ladies would have been driving the less-expensive EV6 model with a range of 250 miles instead of 310 miles.

Bell stated he couldn’t be sure which one they drove without personally inspecting the model.

“As we have all learned over many years of experience with internal combustion engine vehicles, factors such as average highway speed, altitude changes, and total cargo weight can all impact range, whether derived from a tank of gasoline or a fully charged battery,” Bell said, according to the WSJ.

It took the voyagers 14 charging sequences to cover the 2,013-mile trip.

Even though they saved $100 in fuel by driving an EV — $175 instead of a calculated $275 in gasoline refilling costs, based on the AAA average national gas price for May 19, most of that benefit — if not all — was paid for through annoyances such as time loss, batteries prematurely running empty, and lack of sleep. 

Finally, just before the time limit, the two explorers rolled back into New Orleans.

“We pull into New Orleans 30 minutes before Mack’s shift starts—exhausted and grumpy,” the author wrote.

“The following week, I fill up my Jetta at a local Shell station. Gas is up to $4.08 a gallon. I inhale deeply. Fumes never smelled so sweet,” she stated.