Road-tripping in a Tesla

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Are you ready to try road-tripping in a Tesla? Wait a minute! I know some readers will say, “Yay, you’re driving a Tesla; welcome to the future!” Other readers will say, “I won’t read any further if you are writing about EVs! And I will unsubscribe and never read anything you post again!” (Ok, maybe not that extreme!) I didn’t buy the car; I rented a Tesla to try it for a Midwest Road Trip. Right or wrong, the auto industry is likely headed that way, phasing out ICEs (Internal Combustion Engines) in favor of EVs (Electric Vehicles) by 2035 (or more likely later than that.)

About road-tripping in a Tesla narrative

Read on to learn about my experiences. I’ll provide a bit of further information about how the entire “car experience” will change if/when they are widely adopted. I just don’t think too much about it yet when taking a road trip such as this one!

See the maps above. The first one shows the trip and routes taken. The second shows the charging stations used on the way. Renting the car showed me how we must change our behavior if we had an EV. Currently, the charging stations need to be much more prevalent. Not only are the charging stations far fewer, they don’t exist in places you might want to stop.

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As an avid road-tripper, I have particular (mostly junk!) food “needs” to buy on the way. Even to specify specific brands! Not all convenience stores have them, and most don’t have EV charging stations. (Example: Ice Cream!)

Let’s get to Road-tripping in a Tesla!

While driving on the interstate system, it’s relatively easy to find charging stations. However, the driver must be cautious as running out of charge isn’t as easy to solve as running out of gasoline. On my drive, I didn’t see a charging station between Albert Lea, MN, and Dows, IA. That’s 75 miles. On my trip, my first stop was Dows, IA. The town is three miles off I-35. Just off the freeway, I found a charging station with Tesla Superchargers.

 If you stop at Dows, IA, it’s just a fast food location with an Arby’s and a convenience store. On my trip, the convenience store was closed for remodeling. My food choice was only  Arby’s, and I wanted ice cream (not soft-serve!), and I spent 45 minutes waiting for the full charge. Much of the time, I was sitting in the car.

That became a recurring theme. I didn’t find charging stations with the type of stop I wanted to make.

Ready for another stop while Road-tripping in a Tesla?

My next stop was in Des Moines, where I “topped off” the charge for about 20 minutes. Following that stop, I went to Bethany, MO. This one was at a Kum & Go. Again, it was not the food choice I wanted! From there, I left the Interstate to drive “cross-county” to Jefferson City, MO.

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I stayed at a Courtyard by Marriott because they had a “high-speed” charging station. The charging station belonged to ChargePoint, a growing EV charger. By high-speed, it meant the vehicle reached full charge in eight hours. This is opposed to a Tesla Supercharger, which takes about 45 minutes.

After taking a few photos of the state capital, I moved on to Blytheville, AR. I needed a charge again in Miner, MO. It’s close to Blytheville, but I charged in full because there aren’t any Superchargers in Blytheville. While there, I stayed at a Hampton Inn. The hotel let me plug into standard household 110-volt power. The joys of Road-tripping in a Tesla!

At that rate, it takes 48 hours to go from 50% to full charge! I plugged it in every time I spent time at the hotel. Since I spent four nights there, I did reach full charge when I left. (I had a writing assignment due, so I spent my last day working on the assignment in the hotel. I walked where I needed to go for meals or any shopping.) This stop clearly indicated the current drawback to EVs.

On to Missouri on the next Road-tripping in a Tesla stop

When I left, I drove to Kearney, MO, for the next assignment. My first stop was a “top-off” in Cape Girardeau, MO. Next, I went to Rolla, MO, on Route 66! That was near a restaurant and gave me a lunch stop. Again, 45 minutes to charge.

I made a “touristy” stop in Uranus, MO. It’s not really a town, just a tourist attraction with all the juvenile jokes that “come from Uranus!” I revisited a quirky location I saw on Route 66 a few years ago.

I found the next SuperCharger in Osage Beach, MO. Again, I nearly needed a full charge, which took me to Kearney, MO, for my assignment. Fortunately, the hotel provided Tesla Superchargers on the side of the building. I plugged in every night and drove around town to my assignment locations during my three-day stay. The hotel charged me $10 to use the chargers during my stay.

Are you ready to head home with me?

After my work here finished, I left for home. It’s about 420 miles to my house from Kearney. Unfortunately, I drove almost directly into a North-North-West wind with gusts over 40 MPH for much of the way. While I can’t pinpoint how much that reduced my mileage per mile like I can with an ICE vehicle, a significant reduction led to a couple of extra charging stops.

First, I stopped at the same Kum & Go In Bethany, MO, where I charged on the trip down. I just topped off for about 20 minutes. Then, on to Des Moines for a stop at a HyVee. It wasn’t immediately off I-35, as I drove about three miles. Fortunately, I found some premium ice cream for a snack/lunch! I went to full charge here, taking approximately 45 minutes.

As I left Des Moines after eating my ice cream (!) and calculating my next stop, I thought I could make it to Albert Lea, MN. However, due to the wind, I thought I’d play it by ear, with a potential “top-off” in Dows, IA, where I charged on the way south. And I did need it, making my charging stop number three for the day.

A Petro Truck and Travel Plaza hosted another Tesla Supercharger in Albert Lea. Again, 45 minutes this time. At least the Petro location had plenty of shopping/eating places to keep me occupied for the time to charge. I only had a Caribou Dark Hot Chocolate (I don’t drink coffee.)

Almost home!

I’m about 130 miles from home, but I need to fully charge the rented Tesla to turn the car in the next day. Since home charging would take up to 48 hours, I found a Tesla Supercharger at a Target in Minnetonka, MN, about 5 miles from home. Finally, no more “range anxiety!”

I made it home, and the trip took nearly two hours longer than usual due to charging times and driving to find them. I returned the car the next day—a good, and sometimes frustrating, experience.

EVs for everyone? The industry has multiple problems to solve before widespread acceptance!

Adoption Curve for new technology and other changes

Road-tripping in a Tesla adoption of the technology
General adoption of any new technology

Before getting to some thoughts about EVs, see the adoption curve for new technology and other changes. Under that model, owners of EVs are about .5% of all passenger vehicles on the road in the US. According to Cox Auto Inc. Market Insights about 7.5% of vehicles sold in the US in 2023 were EVs. The US is still in the Early Adopters phase. Although the trend is still upward, there’s a way to go before reaching the Early Majority rate. Sales slowed down at the end of 2023. Studies predict that EVs will account for nearly 25% of new vehicles sold in the US by the end of 2025. We’ll see how 2024 goes!

Of course, people don’t fit into one category for every new thing that comes along. Someone may be an innovator in one technology and a laggard in another. I’m not going to get into categories where that might be true. But, generally, those who are innovators and early adopters are more likely to fit that category for other technology.

How about you?

Make up your mind on when and if to make the EV jump. I am concerned about buying one, especially given my “road-tripping habit” and occasional visits to family members in less populated areas. For example, if you live in a major metropolitan area, like the Twin Cities, and do 95% of your driving within 75 miles of home, you can likely buy an EV with little concern. If you go out of town for longer drives, either rent an ICE vehicle or prepare to make stops that may take you off your path and require more time to travel. I’ve read stories by EV owners who do well on road trips. However, given the industry’s current state, I wouldn’t drive an EV on a road trip as long or longer than this one.

For now, hybrids may be the way to go for roadtipping. Many vehicles now provide a hybrid option. Plug-in hybrids are coming of age, with the opportunity to charge at home or your workplace. They only give you about 40 miles of charge, but they may increase that to 80 to 100 miles with future advances, such as Toyota’s plans. They operate like a “regular” hybrid and continue without interruption when the beginning charge is depleted.

How about Toyota’s recent claims?

By the way, Toyota is claiming a breakthrough in battery technology. They expect to achieve more than double the battery capacity and decrease charging time. They are planning for a 500+ mile range on a 10 – 15 minute charge by 2027! A Green Car Reports publication reported their claims to provide 10-minute charging on solid-state batteries by then. Here’s more about EV adoption.

These charging stations soon to be in wider use!
Tesla Charger – 1

Another thing: Consumer Reports said in January 2024 that BMW, Ford, Genesis, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Kia, Lucid, Mini, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Polestar, Rivian, Toyota, and Volvo have adopted the Tesla charging standard and will offer it on their EVs in late 2024 or 2025. Following that, Mazda and Volkswagen Group of America announced that its brands—Audi, Porsche, Scout Motors, and Volkswagen—will implement the technology by 2025. Maybe we’ll be coerced into taking Road-tripping in a Tesla (or another EV.)

Immediate issues for road-tripping in a Tesla

On this trip, I found Target stores often have them. Hyvee is beginning to include them at their grocery stores and a few convenience stores they have opened or plan to open on highways. A severe shortage will still exist if more extensive acceptance happens before the infrastructure ramps up.

That brings up another, more severe problem. The power grid is woefully short of providing the huge demands that EVs create in the coming years. And… are EVs really zero emissions? How will the US (and the world) economy deal with a likely massive shift to EVs? And many other issues.

Who’s advocating?

I’m not advocating for (or against) EVs. I wanted to see what it was like to drive one of them. Environmentalists and other groups are mainly behind the push for these types of vehicles. Politicians are, predictably, on both sides of the issue. Across the world, people are taking sides, and in places, it’s leading to protests; some are even vandalizing EVs, charging stations, and plants to make a point. That happened during the Industrial Revolution, which occurred during the period 1760 to 1830. The more people change, the more they remain the same!

Are they really zero emissions?

The vehicles themselves, while being driven, are near zero carbon emissions. However, the electricity generated is typically not. I know we continue generating more with solar and wind energy. They still require infrastructure, which usually uses precious metals to build. Disposing of EV batteries in an environmentally friendly manner hasn’t been discovered yet. The costs of building and charging them are far beyond the scope of this narrative. Comparisons of the EV vs. ICE (internal Combustion Engine) vehicles may show that EVs don’t (or currently don’t) require much less emissions. But nobody is doing the comparison.

In a “perfect world,” the free market might push EVs as dwindling carbon fuels decrease worldwide. Government mandates will do so and will trigger the market to improve manufacturing, maintenance, and recycling. Technology will enhance the capacity and charging time. Based on far-reaching mandates, we can expect pushing back on the currently stated times. And mandates MAY not be the best outcome for the environment!

Currently, twelve states have banned the sale of ICE vehicles in the future, primarily by 2035. Like other massive mandates, these will likely get pushed back. Again, the timing will depend on the market. The current drop in EV sales indicates this may happen. Most vehicle makers in the US and worldwide have adjusted their production downward. At the same time, the power grid needs massive upgrades to allow wholesale use of EVs. Simply replacing EVs with carbon fuels likely won’t solve the problem.

How about alternative sources?

Alternative fuels like solar and wind have their own current challenges related to manufacturing and recycling. For example, the widespread use of solar power occupies valuable farmland. The building of the power grid also uses valuable land and resources. Are the environmentalists looking at the “big picture,” or are they just opposed to carbon fuels?

Since EVs have fewer moving parts, widespread adoption will decrease worker demand among mechanics and auto technicians. What will the economy do with those displaced workers? Likely, many will cross-train to new skills, but where will displaced workers go if we need less of them? We are seeing the concern now on the part of union labor. Since some EV manufacturers (Tesla, Rivian, etc) are non-union, the unions want protection for their members. The Japanese and Korean manufacturers are currently non-union as well. As of this writing, US unemployment rates are low, and that’s good for workers.

Driving an EV (Road-tripping in a Tesla!)

The rented Tesla was fun to drive. They feature great acceleration, immediate heating and cooling, and many electronic controls. You can control much of it with your phone. By the way, another area that needs serious consideration is the security of vehicle electronics. You don’t want to have your vehicle hacked!

And there you have a Tesla!
Tesla – 1

For in-city driving, EVs will likely work now for those so inclined. For road-tripping, they require accommodations. I don’t want to make those accommodations now as I drive into rural areas and off the interstate highways. Again, we might not have a choice. We’ll see how it plays out in the coming years.

{Edit}: Information obtained after initial post publication.

Update on EV acceptance.

While some reports indicate a decline in sales, others report sales remaining stable. Another report indicates sales are increasing, but the growth rate is declining. The US Big Three automakers cut back on production. But that’s due to the slowing of the growth rate. This article (Link Here) from Tech Brew projects 2024 growth in sales of 42%. That’s a slower increase than 2023 but still growth. This article from Inside Climate News tries to paint a rosier picture but uses 2022 vs 2023 sales to project more growth. Generally, increases are projected, which show a slower rate of increase but still an increase

Update on emissions reports

While some report that EVs’ overall carbon emissions, including batteries’ manufacture, are more expensive, other studies show the overall life cycle emissions are far less. I continue to find conflicting reports. This article from Volkswagen America suggests EVs emit far less than ICE vehicles. Again, one must consider the source.

Update on Hybrids vs. Electric Vehicles

For many of us buying a car today or soon, the answer may fall with Hybrids. I see reports that the option will be used more in the next few years. Especially Plugin Hybrids. They don’t depend on separate EV charging but will increase your mileage if you use it. Here’s an article from Kelley Blue Book about how hybrids make more sense now. That may change, but for people like me to do a lot of rural driving, it makes a lot of sense.

Update on vandalism

Recently, an EV charger in Montana was vandalized (link here), causing near-total damage. While this is not confirmed as an act of vandalism against EVs, the spokesperson for the housing park it’s meant to serve believes it was so. I’ve seen other reports on the vandalism of chargers and vehicles that are really protests.

In San Francisco recently, vandals destroyed a self-driving Jaguar (link here). While this isn’t 100% related to the EVs in this post, it’s likely a backlash against the vehicle technology. Again, if you see examples of vandalism, send them to me for possible inclusion here. Thanks!

Updates from Kelley Blue Book

I found this article – link here – about the immediate future of vehicles. The article points out that EVs have become a “political football,” so to speak. Those on both sides of the EV debate can quote statistics to prove their point. Generally, the facts on both sides are correct. As with most discussions, if you dig close enough, they’ve all omitted some ” inconvenient ” facts about their point. The discussion must continue until the market and the world’s governments compromise. Currently, the US Federal government struggles to push the US to EVs. The growth is slowing after the initial wave of early adopters jump in.

The linked article reaches the conclusion that hybrids are the best answer now. They aren’t sold yet on Plugin Hybrids. Likely, the largest hurdle is the electric power grid. The US couldn’t handle whole-scale adoption based on today’s generation and delivery mechanisms. The author states several reasons for his conclusion, but the primary is the lack of charging capability for mass acceptance. And that the longer term will likely still be EVs as the “future of cars and trucks.”

Stay tuned to the debate and changes in the coming years. Today’s mix of 24-hour news programs and burgeoning social media tends to make the debate much more strident than in past years.

Jump back to the beginning.

Continued updates

I’ll post updates that I see or that readers send me here. Please send me any comments or articles. I’ll include relevant material.


Time will tell. How will the industry overcome the challenges facing EVs? Will hybrids or plug-in hybrids be a bridge technology? What about the trucking industry? An 18-wheeler requires much more power than a passenger vehicle! And self-contained RVs? My take: Road-tripping in a Tesla or any EV needs time to make it practical if you are passing through rural areas and want to make good time while road-tripping.

I believe that for the next few years, many people who buy one will have access to an ICE vehicle or will be willing to rent as needed.

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“Drive” by The Cars

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Written by Ric Ocasek

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