Clark Howard

I Want To Drive My Non-Tesla EV From California to Florida. What Do I Need To Know?

Not long ago, the idea of driving an electric vehicle across the United States was an unrealistic pipe dream or a publicity stunt.

Now, especially if you have a Tesla, it’s at least doable, if not super convenient. But what if you drive an EV that isn’t a Tesla?

The electric vehicle market is changing rapidly. Where does it stand now? And where is it headed in the next few years?

I’m Driving an EV From California to Florida. What Do I Need To Know? And Where Should I Stay?

I’m planning to road trip my EV from California to Florida. Where should I stay? And what can I expect?

That’s what a Clark Howard listener recently asked.

Asked Marc in California: "Recently I bought a new electric car (a 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric). I feel spoiled with the range (261 miles) and new tech after living with a Nissan Leaf for many years.

"I want to use my new ride to drive across the country to visit family in Georgia and Florida. I know I'll be having to use the non-Tesla public charging networks during my road trip and I am preparing for it. I'd like to know the best way to find affordable hotels on the way. Ideally, they would have EV charging. I'm not picky, as long as there's a shower, and a bed free of bed bugs.

"Where do you stay on road trips?"

Let’s address the EV road trip portion of Marc’s question first. He’s accustomed to a Nissan Leaf, which typically generates less than 100 miles of range (sometimes much less). So the Kona, with more than 250 miles of range, must feel like total freedom.

The Kona may come with an adapter. Clark once rented a Kona after an auto accident because the at-fault driver’s insurance provided it.

“In the Kona, charging was — I was so spoiled as a Tesla driver,” Clark says. “Having to figure out where the chargers were, and I went somewhere none of the chargers worked, blah, blah, blah.”

In other words, driving a Kona cross-country requires some planning and flexibility.

Plugshare is a helpful resource that helps you find non-Tesla charging networks. You can view the types of chargers available and the kilowatts, for example. You can also change the view to a custom hotel-charging map.

“You want to have some reserve in case you are planning to go to a charger and you get there and they’re all dead or not compatible,” Clark says.

“This is really a big problem for people doing over-the-road trips in ’24 and ’25. But we’re getting there. By ’26 this won’t be an issue.”

How Clark Sources Hotels on Road Trips

Marc says he isn’t picky about hotels. The biggest specification? For the hotels to provide EV charging.

Clark considers himself to be pickier than he used to be when it comes to hotels. He follows a “complicated” set of procedures. That includes filtering to find hotels with a minimum star level of 2.5. And customer ratings of at least 3.5 out of 5 or 8 out of 10.

On a recent trip, he didn't know where he'd stop for the night and thus looked for a room when he was 30 minutes away from his stopping point. He looked for rooms via Priceline, Hotel Tonight and Hotels.com.

“I ended up with the best deal on Priceline,” Clark says. “I have reached a stage in my life that I want to know that a place is going to be OK. And you can’t go by the name on the building anymore. But I try multiple sites and then figure out what seems best.”

Clark cautioned against using Hotwire. He used to use Hotwire frequently but he doesn’t use it anymore.

“I find that Hotwire is not honest about the level of the hotel and the quality of the hotel. And I’m sorry to call them out specifically by name. But I want you to know,” Clark says.

“This is so easy for Hotwire to fix. Just make sure that you’re absolutely giving people honest information about the quality of the hotel and the star level of the hotel.”

Final Thoughts

Marc seems set on his EV road trip adventure.

But he’ll need to stop every 200 miles or so to charge the vehicle. That’s considering Clark’s advice to stop with some charge remaining in case a charging station doesn’t work. And because it’s not realistic to wait until the vehicle’s battery is fully charged at every stop.

That’s pretty intense. For context, driving from Los Angeles to Orlando is about 2,500 miles. Gas engine vehicles average more than 400 miles on a full tank. And there isn’t as much planning required for gas stations or hotels.

Clark predicts infrastructure will advance to become much better by 2026.

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