US Road Trips In Electric Cars About To Get Much Easier

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If you do a teensy bit of planning, it’s already quite easy to take a road trip in an electric car in many parts of the USA, especially if you are driving a Tesla. If you have a hotel with an EV charger, great. But even if you don’t, all you need is a reliable fast charger near the hotel on your route there. I just took a trip to Orlando from Bradenton (a couple hours away) and there were several Supercharging stations in the area on the way to our hotel. It was easy to stop while coming and going, get lunch or dinner at the restaurants around the Supercharger while charging (Chipotle and Panera in our case, but there were other options as well), and then be on our way. In the case of Chipotle, we even got the food to go so that we could get to our hotel and eat it there.

However, there are also some challenging regions and situations to be aware of. Sometimes, a hotel has chargers, but then they are all being used or are broken. Sometimes, especially if you don’t have a Tesla, fast charging options along your path and near your hotel are limited or nonexistent — or the charging stations are broken or too busy. Just checking the status and recent history of a charging station via PlugShare or Chargehub can help to make sure you’re not in for a rude surprise at a charging station you expect to use, whether that be a fast charger near the hotel or a destination charger at the hotel. If you want to go further to be extra cautious, you can call or email the hotel and ask for a picture of the onsite charging station — especially if you are planning to rely on the hotel charger. You can also ask about cost, how commonly they’re used, and if they’re often taken if you want to really dig in.

Of course, charging onsite at a hotel is the simplest and preferred option when possible, because you just park and plug in. That’s actually much simpler than getting gas at a gas station — which involves getting off your route to get to a gas station, standing there and pumping gas, paying for the gas and maybe picking up some junk food on the way, and then getting back on the road. However, it’s true there are still limited options for onsite charging. However, two things are about to change that a great deal in the United States.

First of all, all major automakers have now said they’re going to make EVs compatible with Tesla’s charging technology (the “North American Charging Standard”), and they should be providing adapters soon while we wait for their EVs to be developed with the port built in. Since Tesla Superchargers are far more reliable and more abundant than any other fast chargers, that alone will help non-Tesla EV drivers a great deal. Similarly, there are many hotels right now that have Tesla “Destination Chargers” onsite that those other EVs will be able to use.

The second big thing is that Choice Hotels, a major hotel chain, will be getting thousands of Tesla chargers at hotels across the country. As part of that, the company will also make it very easy to find hotels that have these chargers. “Choice Hotels International (NYSE: CHH), one of the world’s largest hotel franchisors, announced today an agreement with Tesla to offer Tesla Universal Wall Connectors to participating Radisson, Cambria, Comfort, Country Inn & Suites, Quality Inn and other Choice-branded hotels across the US,” the company wrote earlier this month. “Through this agreement, Choice-branded properties can add four or more charging stations for guests, helping to meet the growing demand for electric vehicle (EV) charging and eliminate one of the biggest pain points for EV drivers traveling for business or leisure. To find a hotel with a charging station, travelers can use the EV charging filter on ChoiceHotels.com and the Choice Hotels mobile app.”

That sounds excellent! Potentially thousands of hotels in markets across the country will get a minimum of 4 charging stations that all Teslas and nearly all other EVs will soon be able to use. “Offering over 7,500 hotels with more than 630,000 rooms across 46 countries and territories, Choice is uniquely positioned to address the growing consumer demand for EV charging. Guests who drove to its hotels accounted for 82% of all Choice room nights in 2022, well above the industry average, according to data from DK Shifflet. Approximately 90% of Choice-branded properties in the U.S. are in suburban, interstate, and small-town locations, with 76% located within one mile of a highway entrance,” the company writes.

Cambria is especially leading the way on this topic. (I imagine the CEO or someone else important at the company drives a Tesla.) Right now, 41% of Choice’s Cambria hotels include EV charging stations. By the end of this year, 2024, 100% of Choice’s Cambria hotels are supposed to include at least one EV charging station. “Cambria guests rank EV charging as one of the top three sustainability priorities that they look for when booking a stay. Additionally, several of Choice’s corporate offices currently offer EV charging stations, including North Bethesda, Maryland and Scottsdale, Arizona.” (Again, at least one big shot at the company must drive a Tesla.)

Here are a few more details from the company about its app and benefits from charging at a choice hotel: “On ChoiceHotels.com and the Choice Hotels app, which were recently given top ratings in a U.S. travel website and app satisfaction study, travelers can easily filter for hotels that have EV charging capabilities. Cardholders of Choice’s two co-brand credit cards will receive accelerated everyday earnings when using an EV charging station installed at a Choice-branded hotel. Choice Privileges Select Mastercard cardholders will earn 5x points on qualifying purchases at EV charging stations, and Choice Privileges Mastercard cardholders will earn 3x points.”

The next time I book a trip somewhere, I guarantee I will be checking Choice Hotels options in the area.

Image courtesy of Choice Hotels


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