Buying and Selling

Owning an EV: Planning a long road trip in your electric car

Thinking of going on a road trip this summer? When you own a battery electric vehicle, you can drive the length and breadth of New Zealand at an extremely low cost – but it does take a bit of planning. Here are seven steps to get yourself completely sorted out before you hit the road in your EV:

1. Map out the charging pit stops around activities or meal breaks

Whenever you’re on a road trip, you need to ensure you take regular breaks to stretch your legs and refresh. Because it takes longer to recharge than to refuel, by matching up your break spots with charging stations you can make the trip more enjoyable. There are 344 charging sites available across New Zealand, and you can find them all on the Waka Kotahi EV charger map or by using the AA Time and Distance Calculator.

2. Your mileage may vary

To get the stated range from your EV, you need to drive it in optimal conditions. But in real life, you’ll be driving in varied conditions and circumstances, which will reduce your range. Your range will be diminished by:

  • Driving fast and braking heavily
  • Very hot or very cold weather
  • Hilly terrain
  • Towing
  • Running your air conditioning
  • Roofracks
  • Heavy loads like extra passengers and luggage

With all these factors in mind, you should allow for a decent margin of error in your range calculations – don’t rely on the stated range.

3. Be prepared to have a backup plan

It’s possible you will arrive at a charging station and find it’s unavailable or out of order, or very busy with other EV owners. Although it’s uncommon, this would be distressing if you were relying on that charger to get you to your destination. Never leave yourself reliant on a specific charger, always have enough charge to get to several other charging sites.

4. Check what type of charger your car uses

You’ll need to match your charger type with the stations that can accommodate it. DC chargers will usually have a cable which you can connect to your vehicle, but AC chargers will often require you to use your own cable.

5. Sign up for different charging apps to map out your trip in advance

You can use various apps to help you plan your EV trip. EVRoam is Waka Kotahi’s live database of the nation’s EV charging infrastructure. It has real-time information from all our public charging points, and for automated chargers it shows availability. It’s the database that feeds into several other providers apps, including AA.

The ChargeNet app may also be useful. ChargeNet is the country’s largest EV charging network, with 280-plus chargers. Its app shows you any network issues, and EVerywhere users can get at-home charging rates when they recharge with ChargeNet.

6. Be time smart with your charging

Start by charging your EV to 100% before you leave for your road trip. It’s cheap and you can do it overnight. Then, when you’re on the road, charging only to 80% will save you a considerable amount of time. It doesn’t take too long to add the first 10% to your battery, then a little longer for the next 10%, and so on. Getting to 100% is relatively time-consuming, so much so that ChargeNet only ever allows you to reach 95%.

Sticking to 80% while travelling will save you time and free up the charger for the next person. When you reach your accommodation, that’s the perfect time to charge back to 100% while you’re sleeping or relaxing. Most places will have somewhere available for you to plug in, which is often free and will set you up nicely for the day’s driving ahead.

7. Drive safely!

Your holiday starts on the trip, so make the most out of by driving safely and enjoying the experience. Visit AA Traveller for more travel tips and ideas, ways to explore, AA Member discounts and more.

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