Why travel time by electric car is not a problem

Will long trips take more time than electricity? Maybe, but it’s becoming less and less true, and the difference is negligible.

Leaving aside the anti-EVs in principle, compulsive and epidermal, which no objective argument convinces, the vast majority of motorists who consider switching to electricity still doubt for many reasons that may seem legitimate.

Multiple reasons that come together around the same issue, that of autonomy and, more generally, that of the freedom to move without stress and without the limitations associated with recharging. Among these limitations, the length of travel time extended by charging stops is often referred to as a brake on electromobility.

If we can understand this perfectly legitimate concern, often illustrated by disastrous experiences, even by our own journalists, we must recognize that if we look at it objectively, in fact, it is often overestimated. Because, well prepared (this is perhaps the main difference with a thermal trip, and yet …) a long distance electric trip should not last much longer than thermal. In any case, not to the point of being a valid reason not to switch to the electric car, if in fact you want to do it elsewhere.

Deconstruction of an often overly exaggerated prejudice.

We immediately eliminate the particular case of the road professional (commercial for example) who travels an average of 300 to 400 kilometers per day in summer and winter, or even more often, often on the highway, sometimes in poorly served regions. for recharging networks. For him, driving with electricity other than Tesla (long range, good efficiency, but above all a very dense and well-meshed Superchargers network) can be really difficult, if not impossible, a fortiori if we add the time factor, often. counted to make a round of several customers in one day. It will soon be possible to make electricity in this case as well, but for now we will have to wait a little longer for the networks of the different operators to develop. At the current rate, which also seems to be growing exponentially, it is a matter of two or three years at most for a daily heavy motorist as described here to go electrically without changing his habits, with only a slight revision of his organization. In this context, the multiplication of recharging points at the destination (hotels but also restaurants to be able to charge during lunch with a customer for example) is a strategic element in the development of electromobility. A key element that we may not talk about enough, by the way.

A few more minutes for much less fatigue

For other use cases, mainly for motorcyclists who only make two or three long trips a year (weekends, summer and winter holidays, leisure road trips, join in the family, etc.), the supposed longer travel time should not be a problem.

So, of course, it will depend on the car, its range, the speed of the load and the network used, and the luck, but who would not be able to accept that a holiday trip lasts 10% longer (and even, only on a long journey of more than 600 km…), if in return it costs less than the thermal, and generates less fatigue?

Let’s take a specific example, either a Lyon-Ile de Ré trip in July with a road-motorway mix with a 58 kWh Volkswagen ID.3 Pro without a heat pump, or a model that is now quite common.

With ABRP (whose UX and ergonomics are still just as abominable), the indicated travel time with a 100% fully charged battery output is 7:33, including 3 recharges for a total duration of 1 hour.


With the Chargemap route planner, the indicated journey time is 7:09, including 3 recharges with a total duration of 54 minutes.

Load map

To be complete and have a point of comparison, in the same situation, but on board a Tesla Model 3 Standard Autonomy, the Chargemap planner indicates a journey time of 6:53, including 3 refills of 38 minutes duration. If the number of recharges is the same, the duration is shorter, which saves travel time.

Load map

However, it should be noted that in the same situation, Tesla’s web planner strangely indicates a journey of 8:12, including 3 refills for a total duration of 55 minutes. It seems that the Tesla planner is quite pessimistic because the reality is certainly more favorable and should be at least at the level of the travel time of the other two planners.

Tesla Planner

We now compare it to what Google Maps tells us, which provides default data based on a thermal vehicle trip, as the choice of electric is not yet offered by Google’s mapping service. The result is much closer to the times indicated in electrical since the shortest and fastest journey would take 6:50, ie a duration only 3 minutes less than the best time in Tesla, and 43 minutes compared to the estimated time in VW ID.3 for ABRP.

Google Maps

Suffice it to say that on such a trip, which still involves crossing more than half of France in a holiday context, a three-quarter-hour difference in the worst case does not seem insurmountable. And again, Google does not take into account a possible refueling stop (although it is not necessarily necessary with a diesel that offers more than 700 kilometers of range) and the necessary breaks every two hours (which are absorbed by the stops of electric charge).

However, there is one important element that is not really taken into account in these simulations, it is the percentage of load that is left on arrival. Here we are at 10%, which is a bit tight to consider after moving around your vacation spot. In this case, we return to the need indicated above to find accommodation on site with collection at destination. This is one of the things to keep in mind when planning your vacation or itinerary.

As for the recommended stops every two hours, it seems so common sense that only a few extremists at the wheel (and thermals) claim to be able to investigate 6 or 8 hours of non-stop driving. “because I have no time to waste and the autonomy of my diesel allows it”. Apart from the fact that we can express some doubts about the veracity of these statements and the notion of time to a few tens of minutes to go on vacation, it is not, in my humble opinion, with these few isolated cases that we build. an argument. Most motorists, even in thermal baths, stop at least twice on a journey of more than 600 km or 7 hours, even if only for coffee, lunch and / or peeing. In this case, recharging stops allow you to do exactly the same thing, and in fact they no longer count in the equation.

So is electric travel time really a problem?

Probably, but here we are talking in an ideal world, with data extracted from applications, not from lived experiences. In fact, it should be noted that sometimes it is a little different, mainly due to two factors: the reliability of charging stations and their availability, in particular for individual charging points, which – when they work – can pile up during the big migrations, generating long queues.

To quickly reach this ideal world in reality, everyone will have to do their part. That operators quickly develop networks with optimal reliability, that hosts and points of interest are equipped with recharges at the destination, that Tesla is in a hurry to extend the opening of its entire network to other brands (a real game changer), that route planners publishers further sharpen their data (in the equation, however, they are currently the most efficient) and also that users become familiar with electric trips in order to better prepare and plan their routes .

So yes, we can say that electric travel time is no longer an issue.

We’re almost there, aren’t we?

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