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Taking Your EV On A Road Trip

In 2023, one in four new cars were battery-electric or plug-in hybrids, so this summer holiday thousands of Kiwis will be making their first electric road trip. Here are our top tips for travelling long distances in an EV.


Plan your trip

If you need to charge along the way, decide where you want to stop and consider a couple of options to keep things flexible.

A fast charge can take up to 30 minutes, so plan your charging stops to coincide with lunch, coffee, or a toilet break.

You can use a trip planning app like Power Trip to work out where to stop and how much to top up. Waka Kotahi NZTA has a handy map of EV chargers nationwide to plan your journey. 

What it costs to power your car for 100km*

  • EV charging at home $3

  • EV charged by a public fast charger $16

  • Gas-guzzling petrol car $30

* these prices assume a typical electric vehicle uses 20kWh to travel 100km for $0.80/kWh and that it takes an average of 10 litres of petrol to drive 100km.

Octopus Energy Add-To-Bill service manages all your energy and fuel charges on the same bill and allows you to access ChargeNet and Openloop charging stations.

Start fully charged, then top up to 80% max

Start your road trip with 100% charge. It’s cheapest and most convenient to charge at home, getting you the best bang for your buck.

If you have to top up on your journey, it’s completely fine to add as much as you need to get to your next charging destination to minimise the time to stop and charge along the way. ‘Snack charging’ won’t harm your battery health, and it’s polite to let the next person in line use the charger. 

As a rule, the most you should top up on a public fast charger is 80%. This is because the last 20% of the battery takes much longer — as long to charge as the previous 70% — this slowdown is due to the battery’s thermal management system kicking in to counteract the heat created by fast charging.

Summer road trip charging at the beach

Enjoy the drive

Driving to enjoy the view will reduce your total travel time by conserving your battery and getting you further from a single charge.

Electric vehicles are designed to be efficient, and most newer models have enough range to not need charging for a long journey, somewhere between 300 and 700 kilometres. 

The measurement “kilometres per kilowatt-hour” tells you how many total kilometres you can go for each kilowatt-hour you have remaining in your battery. Understanding how your driving style affects this can give you a better sense of your range.

If you're driving on the open road, you might see that number drop as you accelerate up the motorway on-ramp or when you put your foot down to overtake. Acceleration happens at higher speeds and higher rpm, where electric motors are less efficient. When you accelerate at motorway speeds, you’ll get fewer kilometres per kilowatt. 

Range will extend when you’re pootling around town or riding the brakes coasting down hill. Regenerative systems built into EVs generate electricity and charge your battery as you slow down. EV drivers learn to speed up gradually and gently to get to the same destination in about the same time.

Wind resistance sucks battery power too. Resistance increases exponentially, so you’ll get more range driving at 80kph compared to 100kph. 

If you include charging time en-route, the overall journey time will be lower if driving slower - and at least within the speed limits! Of course safer as well. Take it easy, make more stops, and have a look around along the way. 

Avoid the holiday rush

No one likes being stuck in traffic, but if you do find yourself in a holiday traffic jam, the good news is that your EV won’t have a problem. EVs use very little power when not moving or moving slowly, so sitting in traffic won’t drain your battery. Your aircon and stereo will slowly use power, so if you are stuck in traffic and concerned about your range, it may pay to turn off the aircon and open your windows. And, you won’t have to turn the music up to drown out the sound of an idling petrol engine. 

We’d advise avoiding traffic if you can — public chargers will be busier if more cars are out on the roads than usual.

To see in advance what chargers are in use so you can divert to one that isn’t, Waka Kotahi’s charger map tracks whether a charger is out of action due to faults or required servicing.

Charge overnight where possible

Whether you’re at home or on holiday, charging overnight is the cheapest and (usually) most convenient option. If you’re staying at a hotel, motel, bed and break, powered camp site, or with family, you may be able to plug in at your accommodation. 

To charge overnight for 8 hours on a standard 3 pin socket will add about 80km to your range and cost the bill payer about $4. We suggest you be a good EV ambassador and offer to cover this cost. Just don’t forget to bring your charging cable and make sure you plug in safely!

Safely charging your electric vehicle at home | Worksafe

If overnight charging isn’t an option, look for opportunities to top up on public chargers while out and about at cafes, malls, supermarkets etc. Note that there are various types of public chargers around – DC chargers are faster and cables are provided, and AC chargers are slower and cheaper (sometimes free) but you may need to provide your own cable – and this cable may differ from the one you’d use to charge at home.

Charging away from home

The joy of the open road can be even more thrilling when you’re travelling on the solar, water, geothermal, and wind power that generate as much as 90% of Aotearoa's electricity. Enjoy the ride and the impact you’re having by not being reliant on fossil fuels. 

Happy and safe travels from the team at Octopus Energy.

Published on 26th October 2023
Simon Coley
Simon ColeyDesigner

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