If you are an EV owner, you can feel good about the emissions and money you are saving as you cruise across the country this summer.
There have been over 17,500 new electric vehicles registered in New Zealand so far in 2022, and for many EV owners, this summer will mark their first major EV road trip. To help make your trip go as smoothly as possible, here are our top tips for travelling long distances in an EV.
Start by planning your journey before you set off. If you need to charge along the way, decide in advance where you want to stop, and consider having a couple of options up your sleeve to keep things flexible.
It can take around 30 minutes for a fast charge – plan your charging stops to coincide with lunch, coffee or toilet breaks, so you can make the most of this time.
Remember that you can use a trip planning app like Power Trip to help you plan where to stop, and how much you need to top up when you do.
Waka Kotahi NZTA also manages an interactive map of EV chargers around the country to help with journey planning.
What it costs to power your car for 100km
- $5 EV charged at home
- $15 EV charged by a public fast charger
- $18 Petrol car
The costs above are based on current rates as at 5 December 2022: standard home electricity rate of 29c/kWh; ChargeNet fast charger rate of 80c/kWh; average petrol premium unleaded 95 cost at $2.63/L used at a fuel efficiency of 6.9L/100km. If you are on a variable electricity plan with cheaper off-peak rates, the cost to charge your car at home overnight can be much cheaper.
Start with 100% charge, then top up to 80% max
We suggest starting your road trip with 100% charge. It’s the cheapest and most convenient to charge at home, so this will get you the best bang for your buck.
If you have to top up on your journey it’s completely fine to add only as much as you need to get to your next charging destination, to minimise the amount of time you need to stop to charge along the way. This kind of ‘snack charging’ won’t impact your battery health.
As a general rule, the most you should top up to on a public fast charger is 80%. This is because the last 20% of the battery takes much longer to charge. In fact, the last 20% can take as long to charge as the previous 70% – this slowdown is due to the battery’s thermal management system kicking in to counteract the heat created by fast charging.
Avoid peak holiday traffic times
No one likes being stuck in traffic, but if you do find yourself in a holiday traffic jam, the good news is that your EV at least will not have a problem with it. EVs use very little power when not moving or moving slowly, so sitting in traffic won’t drain your battery. Your aircon and stereo will slowly use power, so if you find yourself stuck in traffic and concerned about your range it may pay to turn off the aircon and open your windows instead.
Some people also report that they’re less prone to carsickness in an EV – likely due to the reduced vibrations and noise. A recent UK study determined that this is at least the case for dogs.
We’d still advise avoiding traffic if you can – as you can expect public chargers to be busier if there are more cars than usual out on the roads.
Use an app like Plug Share(external link) to see in advance what chargers are in use, so you can divert to one that isn’t. And Waka Kotahi’s charger map(external link) tracks whether a charger is out of action due to faults or required servicing.
Also, check out our general EV public charging etiquette advice.
EV roadie plan: Auckland to Taupō
We used the Power Trip app to plan a trip from Auckland to Taupō in a Tesla Model Y – the top selling new EV in New Zealand in 2022.
The Tesla Model Y has a specified range of 455km, which in real world open-road travel is likely to be more like 350-400km (actual range can vary a lot depending on speed, elevation, strong headwinds etc). The distance between Auckland and Taupō is 275km. We want to reach Taupō with at least 20% battery remaining.
On this trip we have scheduled a quick top up, but if you’re comfortable arriving in Taupō with 10% battery, you can confidently drive straight through without stopping.
Here's the plan
Start the trip with a full charge
Cost to fill at home = $12-$18
You can add around 80km of range in 8hrs overnight on a standard 3-pin socket, so plan to keep your charge topped in the week leading up to your departure.
Stop for a quick top up
11 min stop; Cost to top up = $5.50
Stop at New World Tokoroa with 33% battery range left. Top up to 41%.
Arrive in Taupō with 20% battery
In a Tesla Y, 20% battery is around 90km.
If you are comfortable to arrive with around 45km range remaining, you wouldn't need to stop for the top up.
Auckland to Taupō
EV vs petrol car
- EV $16
Based on a Tesla Y - 100% home charge + 8% fast charger top up. Arrive with 20% remaining.
- Petrol $50
Based on a Mazda CX-5 with a fuel economy of 6.9L/100km, at a petrol price of $2.63/L.
Charge overnight where possible
Whether you’re at home or on holiday, charging overnight is the cheapest and (usually) most convenient option. If you’re staying at a hotel, motel, AirBnB, powered camp site or with family, you may be able to plug in at your accommodation. To charge overnight for 8hrs on a standard 3-pin socket will add about 80km to your range, and cost the bill payer about $4. We suggest you be a good EV ambassador and offer to cover this cost. Just don’t forget to bring your charging cable with you and make sure you plug in safely!
If overnight charging isn’t an option, then look for opportunities to top up on public chargers while out and about at cafes, malls, supermarkets etc. Note that there are various types of public chargers around – DC chargers are faster and cables are provided; and AC chargers are slower and cheaper (sometimes free) but you need to provide your own cable – and this cable may differ to the one you’d use to charge at home.