Friday, August 10, 2012

The Bay to LA in a Day: How to drive 340 miles with a 100 mile range electric vehicle

The issue with an electric vehicle they say is you can only drive as far as a battery charge can take you, but think again. Can you only drive a gasoline powered internal combustion vehicle as far as what is in the tank? Of course not. You can rely on a network of gas stations along the route to refuel and be on your way. In September, I want to attend an unofficial high school reunion in Hollywood for Fairfax High School at the Kibbitz Room at the famed Canters Deli, a few blocks from my alma mater but thought it would be an interesting challenge for myself. To take my BMW ActiveE with it's 100 mile per charge range and drive it from the bay area to Los Angeles in less than a day. I have already driven over 9200 miles in less than 4 months in the car. I typically drive over 100 miles a day between my house south of Santa Cruz to either one of our company's work sites in Fremont or Palo Alto, charging the car while I am at work. This trip would provide some challenges. I would prefer not to pay for electricity while charging my car and I'd like to make it in less than a day. Granted, this is not the most efficient way to get to LA, but it would show that you can make a journey out of your trip. To get a chance to enjoy the local area while the car recharges.

My first thought, I was looking at 4 stops.Starting near my home, I would follow El Camino Real, The King's Highway, otherwise known as US-101 with stops in King City, Atascadero, Solvang, Thousand Oaks and then LA.  I would start in the Santa Cruz area, probably at the Santa Cruz Community Foundation near my home in Aptos, CA.There is a free Chargepoint Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (aka EVSE  or charger) available. My next stop would be in King City, from friends in the Monterey Bay Electric Vehicle Association, I was told 2 EVSEs would be available around the time of my trip. Otherwise there is an RV park that opens at 6 AM, but charges $25 to charge. Next would be an EVSE at the Rabobank in Attascadero, an EVSE in a city parking lot in Solvang, another in a parking lot in Thousand Oaks and finally at my destination.

Sounded easy right? Not so fast. The King City EVSEs are part of a project to add 60 EVSEs in Monterey county in one year, unfortunately they will not be avaialble in time for my trip. And waiting for the Campground to open (should it open at 6AM) would definitely put a crimp in my plans. Time for option B....


  1. Good luck Jack. Please factor in the possibility of having hard faults while using ChargePoint public chargers. Sometimes you get lucky, but other times it just keeps faulting and you have to sit by it and constantly restart.
    I'm driving to Vermont to my in laws tonight, it's 220 miles each way. I'm not taking the AE, but I am installing an EVSE in their garage this weekend so I can do it in the future. I'm also going to visit public chargers on the way now to make sure they are there and operational. So I'm looking at a 440 mile round trip in a month or so if all goes well. Such is the life of a - Electronaut (That is what they are calling us these days right?)

  2. Thanks Tom, I plan on hanging out with the ar in most stops either reading a book, finishing my obsession with watching every episode of 30 Rock or practicing my guitar.