EVRoadTrip 2019: Here’s the Scoop

EVRoadTrip Roundup

D+R's Stephen Baboi (left) and John Morris getting ready to hit the road.

D+R’s Stephen Baboi (left) and John Morris getting ready to hit the road.

D+R International’s John Morris and Stephen Baboi charged a Tesla S and took an electric vehicle (EV) road trip to Efficiency Exchange 2019 (EFX), the premier networking and learning conference for energy efficiency professionals from across the Northwest. They set off on their journey in Portland, Ore., and arrived at the EFX in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, to demonstrate how easy it is to drive an EV—even through rural areas. Along the way, they checked in on ChooseEV utility clients to learn more about their EV strategic planning. Now that John and Stephen are back in the office, we sat down with them to find out the road trip scoop.

How many miles did you travel?

Approximately 900 miles.

Were there any surprises along the way?

We were shocked by the rich driving experience Tesla’s Autopilot delivered. While we heard great reviews, the advanced driver assistance system floored us by how well it worked on the freeway. It kept us attentive, while the external cameras and sensors reduced our driving workload by automatically slowing the EV down in traffic and assisting in staying between the lines.

Did you have any issues finding charging stations?

Tesla’s navigational system lets you know where chargers are located and automatically populates maps that tell you exactly where they are. It also lets you know your range. Since this was our first road trip in the Tesla S, we had range anxiety when the map said we would only have 8 percent left on our battery when we would arrive at the next charger. We went over a mountain pass using regenerative braking to put more energy into the battery, but still worried since we were in the middle of nowhere at 11 p.m. So, we started looking for an intermediate charger—not an easy task. Ultimately, the crisis was averted when we finally found a charger—right next to a great diner which gave us time to  stretch, walk and get some food. Could we have reached the next charger on the Tesla map with battery life to spare? Maybe, but better safe than sorry.

What was the biggest take away from the road trip?
EVs work in rural America. We intentionally did a road trip where there aren’t large cities. EV technology works across the urban divide. However, there is a need for more public charger infrastructure to be built, and then educating the public on where the chargers are located.

Biggest take away from the EFX conference?

Our road trip destination was the Efficiency Exchange (EFX) 2019 Conference in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. We did a ride and drive event at the conference that allowed our utility clients to ride along in a Tesla to show them all the cool EV capabilities. The ride along also allowed us to explain how utilities can educate their customers on EV technology. You could feel the visceral excitement and a marked increase in the level of interest on how they can engage with EV technology and charging infrastructure as well as how they can help educate their customers about EVs.

Did you meet any interesting people along the way?

We met a lot of interesting people. Several GMs of the utilities we visited along the way met with us to learn more about EVs, charge our Tesla S and discuss our EV dealership programs. The mayor of The Dalles greeted us and told us about the first charger they are putting in their town. We also got to meet with Tacoma Power and see their EV fleet. The highlight of the road trip was when we met with Inland Power & Light in Spokane, Wash., one of ChooseEV’s first clients. We drove one of their EV fleet vehicles and they demonstrated their solar charging infrastructure. It’s exciting to see firsthand the diverse set of innovative options this utility is delivering to serve their customers’ wants.

What was your favorite landmark?

Mount Hood was an amazing sight. It was a sunny day and as we came around a bend, there it was—blazing in all its glory with the sun reflecting off its snowcaps.

D+R International works with hundreds of utilities across the United States to provide objective educational tools about electric vehicles to their members. In collaboration with utilities and industry partners, D+R developed DRIVE EV Market Services to help utilities build partnerships, spot trends, and quantify market opportunities based on the most current and actionable data on the EV market. We would love to talk to you about how DRIVE EV Market Services can accelerate EV adoption in your utility service territory. To keep up to date on the latest EV industry news, sign up for future D+R Insights.

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