EV 1000 – A 1000-mile race through Middle America reveals what it’s like to drive an EV long distances in 2021. Spoiler: It’s possible but not always fun. Image Credit: Car and Driver (2021)
Car and Driver Benchmarks The State Of EV Technology Through The EV 1000
There is developing a demand for real information on the actual nature of travelling by 100% electric-powered vehicles on long-distance road trips.
This demand for knowledge is real since nearly everyone who has familiarity with standard propulsion found at everyday fuel stations, has a need to know just how varied our options and choices are.
The assumptive bar is set high because gasoline delivers an experience through its ease of access and repetitive use as the primary “energy is freedom” power delivery option with a comfort level that is hard to match in an on-demand | just in time society.
** Study the nation’s charging infrastructure by road-tripping EVs beyond the range of a single charge.
** The course will be a 1000-mile lap through four states, banning the usual hijinks: no taped-over panel gaps, no stripped interiors to shave weight, no rented U-Hauls to break the wind.
** Basically what one would do by hopping into a gasoline-powered car and drive a 1000-mile lap through four states – but with off-the-shelf electric-powered vehicles.
** Give the challenge a name to prove that what we were about to do was twice as hardcore as the Indy 500: the EV 1000.
** Car and Driver had the 11 vehicles, piloted with a team of two drivers for each, from it’s 2021 EV of the Year test. Vehicles used were the Audi e-tron. Tesla Models 3, Y, & S Long Range Plus, Nissan Leaf, Kia Niro EV, Volkswagen ID.4, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Polestar 2, Volvo XC40 Recharge, and finally the Porsche Taycan 4S.
** Starting Line: Ann Arbor, Michigan. Drivers were free to choose their own route as long as they passed through mandatory waypoints in the following order: Cincinnati; Athens, Ohio; Morgantown, West Virginia; Erie, Pennsylvania; and Ann Arbor.
** Teams were required to stop from midnight to 8:00 a.m. so as to pattern activity comparable to average drivers and have all teams on the same page.
** Most teams scouted charging locations ahead of time with A Better Routeplanner (ABRP), an EV-specific navigation website and app. Users provide info about their vehicle and intended speed so ABRP can estimate energy consumption and spit out a route with recommended stops, including the charging time needed at each one, for the fastest possible trip.
This excerpted and edited from Car & Driver magazine –
The EV 1000: 11 EVs Face Off in a Long-Distance Race A 1000-mile race through Middle America reveals what it’s like to drive an EV long distances in 2021.
Spoiler: It’s possible but not always fun.
BY ERIC TINGWALL – JUL 7, 2021
Here’s the thing about racing EVs in the real world: It doesn’t look remotely like what goes on in Monaco or in Daytona or even in the classic Cannonballs. It looks more like racewalking, the Olympic sport where athletes hobble as fast as possible without technically running. The EV 1000 is a contest of endurance and speed, but not too much speed, because to cover big distances quickly in an EV, you have to push the pace while simultaneously holding back.
Any long-distance drive in an EV starts with a question: What are you willing to forgo to maximize your range? Drivers disabled automatic headlights and ignored cruise control. Climate control was used sparingly, if at all. And get this: Speed limits were frequently heeded.
User error almost certainly played a role, but the drivers in the Nissan Leaf insist they were following the app’s guidance when they made the first pit stop—charging for all of six minutes—just 23 miles into the race. That mistake came back to haunt them when they were the last of four teams to arrive at a single ChargePoint DC fast-charger at an adult-education center near Lima, Ohio. The day’s lesson: Be wary of any fast-charging station with only one unit. The Leaf squeezed electrons from a nearby lower-power Level 2 plug for 96 minutes before the fast-charger became available. The Nissan team would have been waiting longer, but the duo in the Audi had given up their spot to search for another charging station, only to return a short while later. The unit they’d hoped to use was broken.
The teams in the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y had it comparatively easy. While Tesla’s built-in nav can’t plot a multistop journey, setting the next waypoint directed them to fast and reliable Superchargers as necessary. Three non-Tesla teams also kept the pace based on a simple but smart strategy: Because an EV’s battery replenishes faster at a lower state of charge, ideally you wait until the vehicle is nearly out of juice to plug in. The Kia Niro EV and Volkswagen ID.4 made it to a Dayton suburb for their first stops, and the Ford Mustang Mach-E went 237 miles to the edge of Cincinnati before it had to charge.
VanderWerp, in the Model S, wanted to post a big number on the first leg to make a statement. Possibly that statement was “No owner would ever do this.” To maximize the energy available for moving the car, he ran a radar detector off a portable battery and played music through a Bluetooth speaker. With climate control off, the cabin temperature reached 86 degrees despite a 65-degree ambient temperature. At least all the sweating meant that neither VanderWerp nor his partner needed the TravelJohn disposable urinals they’d brought. They plugged into their first Supercharger after 326 miles and were back on the road 26 minutes later. [Reference Here]
Race route map (clockwise) for the first ever Car and Driver EV 1000. Image Credit: Torque News (2021)
This article is a great read and contains a lot of honest information, graphs, much of which was used in the introduction of this treatment. What needs to be highlighted, however, are the real problems that exist in this day with using 100% electric-power as the propulsion force as opposed to everyday gas. This then becomes the concluding focus of information found in the Car and Driver article.
When racing, the location and type of charging station is paramount. One of the contentious focuses the teams had in common was using fast charging stations which were, in many locations on the race, few and far between. Teams would arrive only to be stuck in a line with many of their racing competitors – just not a good look. Some teams found it far better to cruise at speed limits, or slower in order to gain range. Fastest isn’t necessarily first in these kind of alternative power endeavors.
Another major hurdle was the constant attention to math on squaring up the range miles, route, and charging stations – many teams found this to be the largest hurdle to conquer. One snarky observation came from a Car and Driver editor itself by pointing out another possible reason why Americans have been slow to adopt electric vehicles: “As a people, we hate math” – this is cold given all of the ease of use and understanding found in petroleum based energy sources.
The inconsistent nature found in the charging stations and their location can become very confusing – this isn’t anywhere near as simple to understand as “Do I fill up at Chevron or go price and hold out for a COSTCO or an AM/PM?” … no, not anywhere near as simple as that – compatibility given the car being driven, is the station located at a permit-only or paid-entry parking lot to access the plug or do I need to go to a hotel parking lot, or etc., were the additional issues, of many, encountered.
To quote the C&D article – “Charging units that weren’t supposed to work did, and those that were supposed to didn’t, adding an element of chance to an equation that didn’t need any more variables.”
Given the maturity of the market in place … complete with a charging network (that no other manufacturer’s EV can use) that is consistent and defined – Tesla, Tesla, and Tesla occupied all three places on the podium.
The Model S once passed four Supercharger stations before stopping. It arrived back at the office after 16 hours and 14 minutes of driving and charging. Google Maps says this trip is just 50 minutes shorter without a single stop.
The Model Y pulled into their last charging stop after the Model 3 had hooked-up, but the the team refused to accept a third place. When the other team wasn’t paying attention, they unplugged the Model Y and took off at a furious pace, beating the 3 back to the office to claim second place on the podium.
The final summation, also from the must read article went on like this: “Our drivers are split when asked whether the EV 1000 was harder or easier than expected, but most say that if they were to do the trip again, they would do one thing differently: drive a gas car. And that includes the Tesla drivers. We’ll know that the charging networks and EV technology are fully baked when we’re no longer saying that.”
Comments at the end of the article are most informative and are, on their own, worthy of a deep dive. Plug in the coffee pot and enjoy before heading out for the holidays on a family gathering destination drive in the trusty, energy supply transporting, gas-powered vehicle – no matter the current price of fuel at the pump found along the universal access grid that has been building, and in-place, over these last 100 plus years.