Why the travel time of electric cars is a non-issue

Long trips in electric would take longer than in thermal? Maybe, but it’s less and less true, and the difference is negligible.

If we put anti-EVs aside in principle, coercive and epidermal, which no objective argument will convince, the vast majority of motorists considering switching to electric are still hesitant for many reasons that may seem legitimate.

Several reasons that ultimately revolve around the same issue, namely autonomy and more generally the freedom to circulate without stress and without the limitations associated with recharging. Among these limitations, the duration of travel times extended by charging stops is often mentioned as a brake on electromobility.

If we can understand this perfectly legitimate concern, often illustrated by catastrophic experiences, including by our own journalists, we must recognize that if we look at it objectively, it is actually often overestimated. Because, well prepared (this is perhaps the biggest difference of a trip in thermals, and yet …) a long distance trip in electric should not take much longer than in thermals. At least not to constitute a valid reason not to switch to the electric car if one actually wants to do it elsewhere.

Deconstruction of an often very exaggerated prejudice.

Let us immediately eliminate the special case of road professionals (eg commercial), who travel on average 300 to 400 kilometers a day in summer and winter, or even more, often on the motorway, sometimes in areas that are poorly served by tax network. For him, it can prove difficult, even impossible, all the more so if we add the time factor that often counts for him to drive with other electric power than Tesla (long autonomy, good efficiency, but above all a very close and well-meshed network of superchargers). to make a round of multiple customers in one day. Electricity will soon also be possible in this case, but at the moment we have to wait a little longer for the networks of the various operators to develop. With the current speed, which also seems to be growing exponentially, it is a matter of a maximum of two or three years for a heavy daily rider, as described here, to be able to ride electrically without changing his habits, simply by to revise its organization a little. In this context, the multiplication of charging points at the destination (hotels but also restaurants to be able to charge for lunch with a customer for example) is a strategic element in the development of electromobility. A key element that we may not be talking about enough, by the way.

A few minutes more for much less fatigue

For other utility cases, mainly involving motorists who only drive two or three long journeys a year (weekends, summer and winter holidays, leisure road trips, family reunification, etc.), the alleged longer travel time should not even be an issue.

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

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

With ABRP (if UX and ergonomics are still equally disgusting), travel time is indicated by a 100% charged battery charge 7h33, including 3 recharges for a total duration of 1 hour.


With the Chargemap route planner, the specified travel time is 7h09, including 3 recharges with a total duration of 54 minutes.


To be complete and have a point of comparison, in the same situation but aboard a Tesla Model 3 Standard Autonomy, the Chargemap scheduler sets a travel time of 6h53, including 3 recharges lasting 38 minutes. If the number of refills is the same, the duration is less, saving travel time.


It should be noted, however, that in the same situation, the Tesla web planner strangely enough indicates an 8h12 journey, including 3 recharges 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 on a par with the travel time of the other two planners.

Tesla Planner

Let’s now compare with what Google Maps tells us, which provides standard data based on a trip in a thermal vehicle, as the choice of electric is not yet offered by Google’s map service. The result is much closer to the times stated in electric, as the shortest and fastest journey would take 6h50, i.e. a duration only 3 minutes less than the best time in Tesla, and 43 minutes compared to the estimated time. in VW ID.3 by ABRP.

Google Maps

Suffice it to say that on such a journey, which still consists of crossing more than half of France in a holiday context, the three-quarter difference does not seem insurmountable at worst. And again, Google does not take into account a possible stop to refuel (although a diesel offering more than 700 kilometers of autonomy is not necessarily necessary) and the necessary breaks every two hours (which are absorbed by electric charging stops).

However, there is still one important element that is not really taken into account in these simulations, it is the percentage of fee that is left on arrival. Here we are at 10%, which is a bit tight so then consider moving around your resort. In this case, we return to the above need to find accommodation on site with charging at the destination. This is one of the elements to consider when preparing your vacation or itinerary.

As for the recommended stops every two hours, it seems so common sense that few extremists of the steering wheel (and thermal) claim to be able to investigate 6 or 8 hours of non-stop driving “because I do not have time to waste and the autonomy of my diesel engine allows it”. Apart from the fact that we can express some doubt about the correctness of these claims and the notion of time within a few 10 minutes when we go on holiday, in my humble opinion it is not with these few cases isolated, that we are building a quarrel. Most drivers, even in thermals, stop at least twice on such a trip of more than 600 km or 7 hours, albeit only for a coffee, lunch and / or a pee break. In this case, the recharge stops allow exactly the same thing, and in fact, they no longer count in the equation.

So is electric travel time really a non-issue?

Probably, but we are talking here in an ideal world, with data extracted from applications, not from lived experiences. In fact, it must be admitted that it is sometimes a little different, mainly due to two factors: the reliability and availability of charging stations, especially for single charging points, which – when they work – can be crowded during the large 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 waypoints equip themselves with refills at the destination, that Tesla is in a hurry to expand the opening of its entire network to other brands (a real Game changer), that route planner publishers sharpen their data even more (in the equation, however, they are currently the most efficient), and also that users become familiar with electric travel 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, are we?

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