Making a road trip in an electric vehicle is not the same as doing one in a conventional gas car vehicle. The number one reason is that you have to plan your stops for charging.
You set off in a gas-powered vehicle. You can pretty much guarantee that there’s going to be a gas station wherever you’re going, so you really don’t have to think about stopping for gas.
However, in an electric vehicle, the charging infrastructure is definitely further behind than it is with gas, so you do have to plan where your stops are going to be and how frequently you will be stopping between your destination and where you’re leaving from.
There are a number of considerations you have to take into account when planning your trip in your Tesla or any electric vehicle, and those are things like your tire pressure, the weather conditions, how much altitude you plan to gain on the trip, how much weight you’re towing in, even your driving style. These are all going to have a huge impact on the amount of eventual range that you have when driving in your vehicle that will impact how frequently you need to stop.
Luckily, there are several EV road trip planner apps that help you take those conditions into account and plan a trip accordingly. We’re going to present the three best Tesla trip planner apps that might be really handy for everybody that’s driving Tesla or even any other EV.
Best Tesla Trip Planners
ABRP (A Better Route Planner)
The best way to plan a Tesla road trip is actually to not rely on the navigation system but instead utilize the ABRP (A Better Route Planner).
It doesn’t necessarily try to minimize the amount of charging stops you make along the way as the Tesla navigation system does. But you can set the charging stops from “fewer stops” to “shorter legs” based on your trip purposes. Based on how electric car batteries work, the charge is more efficient on road trips to stop more often to charge.
Unlike the built-in supercharging routing on the Tesla itself, you can set how much battery you want at the final destination.
The ABRP is definitely a must-have app. During any long driving or a road trip, it’s usually not a problem for Teslas, especially going from a Supercharger to another Supercharger. However, there are no Superchargers at some places, so you need to find a third-party DC fast charging station or Level 2 chargers to get some juice under some circumstances.
If you are planning long journeys with multiple stops along the way or no stops along the way, the ABRP will help map out exactly where you should stop.
Therefore, when you’re planning a trip with your Tesla or any EV for that matter, check out A Better Route Planner. It’ll definitely make the process a lot easier.
Tesla on-Board Trip Planner
The planner that’s built into the Tesla navigation system is okay. The built-in Tesla trip planner is perfect if you plan a straight shot from point A to point B, but we really wouldn’t recommend using it for any road trips that require more than one charging stop. It just provides very few options for customization and is limited to the conditions of right when you’re using it, meaning that if you want to use it to plan a trip that’s a couple of weeks out, the car is going to use the current conditions such as battery level and traffic. You really can’t plan that well in advance.
You can’t add waypoints. The navigation system won’t account for the return journey in case your final destination is pretty far from a charging location. On top of this, it seems to just try to minimize the number of stops on road trips which makes sense at first glance, but in reality, that results in uncomfortably low margin and doesn’t seem to take into account inefficiencies, such as temperature effects or carrying a lot of extra cargo with you.
The road trip plan made by Tesla is an ideal scenario. It’s not taking into account extra weight, road conditions, higher speeds or weather.
Overall, there are just very few ways that you can actually customize this system.
PlugShare Trip Planner
The PlugShare trip planner is really cool for people that have limited range or are planning long road trips, but you can only get access to the PlugShare trip planner on the desktop version.
If you don’t have a PlugShare account, you won’t be able to use the trip planner, log into stations and leave notes.
The trip planner allows you to add your vehicles. After entering the trip starting point and destination, you will see a green circle in which a bunch of charging stations show. These are every charging station along that route within a particular radius. The green circle is the estimated range of your vehicle. You can adjust your range accordingly.
You can check the elevation of your drive through this trip planner, so you can add in more charging stops or fewer stops depending on the elevation that you’re driving.
The PlugShare app is one of the best apps for public charging stations because it is a lot more comprehensive and shows more charging stations on a variety of networks.
How to Use A Better Route Planner?
We’ll step through an example of how to plan a trip with A Better Route Planner.
Let’s say we want to make a road trip from Denver, Colorado to Boston, Massachusetts.
Open up your web browser and type in abetterrouteplanner.com.
- Enter your starting point (Denver, Colorado) and destination (Boston, Massachusetts).
2. Go tosettings and turn on the detailed settings.
3. Choose which car you’re driving ( Tesla Model 3 2018-2020 Long Range AWD Aero 18”). The ABRP website provides all sorts of vehicles and every possible version.
4. Set your departure state of charge. Basically, it’s the state of charger you’re planning to have when you leave to start your journey.
5. Reference consumption is based on your vehicle, and you can leave it as is.
6. Set charging stops among “fewer stops” and “shorter legs”. You can choose more charging stops or fewer charging stops.
7. Go down to battery & chargers. What you want to pay attention to are these options.
7.1 We have fast chargers first. There are Tesla SC, Tesla CCS, CCS, CHAdeMo, Level 2 options.
7.2 The charger availability feature can only be used when you have an ABRP Premium account.
7.3 Set minimum charger stalls.
7.4 Set destination arrival state of charge. This is the minimum state of chargethat you’re okay with arriving at your final destination. So in our example, that would be Boston, Massachusetts.
7.5 Set charger arrival state of charge. It is similar to the destination arrival state of charge, but this is for arriving at chargers. The lower this number is, the faster you’re going to be able to charge.
7.6 The max state of charge is really just the highest that you’re willing to charge up to. 100% is fine for a road trip.
7.7 Set Battery degradation. We just leave it at the 5% which we think is pretty conservative.
7.8 Next up, charging overhead in the description. We think about this as how much time it takes you to get out of your car, plug in, unplug and drive away. It’s essentially the amount of time that you’re at a charger that you’re not charging. We set it as 2.
8. Let’s go to the speed section.
8.1 Reference speed is basically a percentage of the speed limit, so 100% means that you’re always doing the speed limit, but let’s face it, and most people on the highway go above the speed limit.
If we put this at 107%, it would mean that if the speed limit were 70 miles an hour, you would typically be driving 75 miles an hour.
8.2 Next up is the maximum speed. We limit this to 85 miles an hour because there are some sections that have 80 miles an hour speed limits.
9. Next up, let’s go to road conditions. Unfortunately, weather can affect an electric vehicle road trip quite a bit and especially cold weather.
You can set wind speed and direction, temperature and even specific road conditions (dry, rain or snow, or heavy rain and snow).
10. You can set certain things that you want to avoid on your route, for example, ferries, country borders, highways or tolls.
11. The last setting is extraweight. It is really nice if you’re planning to have a bunch of luggage or extra people in the car.
12. Our route has finally loaded. It’s going to take 33 hours and7 minutes to drive from Denver to Boston. That’s about 28 hours and 382 minutes of actual driving to go 2001 miles with about 5 hours and 4 minutes of charging with 17 charging stops.
13. Click on table. It’ll open up a nice table of all of this information in a super helpful format, so it’s essentially just a list of every stop from the start to the finish of the trip. For each stop, it’ll tell you what state of charge you’re going to arrive, how long you’re going to be there charging and what percentage you’re going to depart. It even calculates how much it’s going to cost at the Tesla supercharger.
From the table, you’ve got the distance in miles between the points as well as how long it’s going to take. You can even see the specific time of day based on what time you departed.
14. Export it to excel. It will download this spreadsheet that you can open in Excel or google sheets. This is convenient because you can just open this from any smartphone along the route or take a screenshot in case you’re worried, and you won’t have service.
This sheet also has a link that’ll open up the route that you’ve planned on their website in case you want to go back to that and make any tweaks.
If there isn’t a lot of Tesla Superchargers on your way, the ABRP is extremely helpful to map out where you should charge along the way.
Besides, if you are planning to get from point A to point B, it’s best to use the Tesla navigation system, but if you are planning a road trip and it’s relatively long, a few days or more and there are some in the middle of nowhere areas, it’s better to use the ABRP. It provides you way more information and allows you to plan your road trip way more precisely.