One of the highlights from this summer was our Highway 1 road trip from Sacramento to Carmel-by-the-Sea. We added a new twist to our road tripping adventures by swapping our hybrid car for a completely electric GIG Car Share Chevy Bolt, a new car sharing service by AAA Northern California. We have considered purchasing an all-electric vehicle so this was the perfect opportunity for us to get some real-life experience driving one.
Our Gig EV gets over 200 miles on a full charge, which makes it ideal for California road trips. There are a plethora of charging stations sprinkled all over the state, making it easy and cost-effective to drive between major cities.
We were lucky enough to cruise around in style with one of the limited edition Wide Open Walls Art Cars. The hood of our car was adorned with dandelion artwork by artist Maren Conrad.
Our Road Trip Route
We began our road trip in Sacramento. Thanks to the efforts of Electrify America, Sacramento has become an EV hub with dozens of chargers in and around the metro area. It was easy and convenient for us to find a charging station and get a full charge before we hit the road.
From Sacramento we drove 2.5 hours straight to a coastal beach town called Half Moon Bay (which is also my hometown). The beachside hotel Best Western Plus Cameron's Inn has two ChargePoint stations on the property. You can leave your vehicle to charge while you enjoy a day exploring the town and beach. There’s also charging stations available on the primary downtown strip Main St and in the New Leaf shopping center.
Our next destination was Carmel-by-the-Sea. It’s a gorgeous 2 hour drive down the Pacific Coast Highway and there are several noteworthy spots to pullover. See my guide to hidden gems along the northern strip of Highway 1.
On the return route, you can opt to stay the night in San Francisco. From Carmel to San Francisco it’s about 126 miles so you’ll need a full charge or you can stop for lunch along the way and charge up. There are 18 hotels listed on Booking.com with on-site charging stations in San Francisco, our favorite is boutique Hotel Kabuki because of the trendy eclectic decor.
Top Tips to Driving Electric Cars on Road Trips
Map Your Route in Advance - While you may be surprised at how many EV charging stations are actually out there, you should err on the side of caution and make sure there’s multiple charging options in the direction you are driving. The more options the better, we once ran into a scenario where the charging station we routed to was actually not functioning. Always give yourself a good buffer of charge in case you have to divert to another charging station.
Charge Your Car at the Hotel - The best way to maximize your vacation time is to book yourself a hotel that has a charging station on-site. That way you can charge during your downtime or at night while you sleep. On Booking.com you can actually filter by hotels that have EV charging stations for any city, how easy is that! You will find this option under “Property Facilities.”
Charging Station Options - It will serve you well to know the advantages and disadvantages of different types of charging stations. During our road-trip to Carmel, we stopped to charge at both EVGo and ChargePoint stations.
EVGo stations are one of the faster charging stations, it takes about an hour and 45 minutes to get a full charge in the Chevy Bolt. This is what you will most likely be using if you’re on the road and taking a quick detour to charge.
Expect to pay less than $25 for a full charge. If you are traveling with a Gig Car it’s already built into your rental fee, just give them a call to help find and pay for your charging session. EVGo stations also accept credit cards and it’s not required that you have the app on your phone.
If you need to charge for more than an hour, it’s important to note that the EVGo will time-out at an hour. So you’ll need to stay close to start it up again once the hour has passed.
ChargePoint stations are meant to be used when you’re planning on staying in one location for an extended period of time. These are much slower to a full charge but are also more cost effective. An ideal situation to use ChargePoint on a road trip is at your hotel or at a venue where you plan on spending several hours.
With ChargePoint you will also be required to have an account and the app downloaded on your phone. If you plan on using ChargePoint, I suggest you download and set up your account in advance. It will save you a lot of time when going to charge your car.
ChargePoint also has DC Fast Charging stations that are similar to the EVGo in that they will charge quicker for a slightly more premium price.
Time Your Charging with Errands - If you’re charging your car while out and about, try planning to stop at a charging station near shops and restaurants that you like to frequent. The hour of charging will fly by and it can make your day much more productive.
Correctly Calculate Your Miles - You could find yourself in a pickle if you misjudged the amount of miles you have left on your charge. Simple things like running the air conditioning and loading the car up with people and luggage will drain your charge quicker. An easy tip to expand your battery life is to park in the shade to keep your car cool. Make sure to always leave yourself a minimum of 20% charge buffer between charges.
Google Maps - A search on Google Maps will show locations of charging stations, including real-time availability of electric vehicle charging stations. We didn’t have issues with charging stations being taken up, but in popular locations it could possibly be an obstacle. All you have to do is search for “EV charging station” in the Google Maps app.
Discover the Benefits of GIG Car Share
This innovative electric car share company serves both the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento. GIG cars are ideal for folks who are looking for eco + budget-friendly car rentals. When you’re driving with GIG, your fuel, insurance, and parking (within the HomeZone) are included with your rental. So you can drive as many miles as you'd like without worrying about paying high gas prices.
As I mentioned earlier, GIG uses the EV Chevy Bolt model which is ideal because this car has the best of both worlds. It feels spacious and offers plenty of trunk space for luggage and gear, while at the same time being compact enough to easily drive and find parking.
Another convenient feature is car is operated with the app, there are no keys required. You can basically jump in and go at a moment’s notice, and drop off is super simple too! With other car share services you have to deal with coordinating a meet-up to exchange keys, with GIG there’s no such hassle.
Give GIG a try!
New members enjoy 2 free hours of driving with Gig using promo code GROSE.
Disclaimer: Offer valid for new members only. 2 free hours equal to $30 driving credit. Restrictions apply. Visit gigcarshare.com to learn more. Code expires 12/31/19.
A big thank you to GIG for sponsoring this blog post.
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