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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
One thing I've been struck by over and over is just how poor the tools seem to be for planning a road trip. Here's what I'd really like: A tool where I tell it

  • Where I want to go from and to
  • What kinds of stops I'd like to make (meals, shopping, attractions, etc.) so I'll have something to do while the car charges
  • What kind of car I have and my driving style (speed, cabin comfort, etc.)
  • How risk-averse I am (e.g., how much safety margin I want, how much I want in the way of backup options)

and it gives me some possible plans (factoring in weather [temperature and wind speed], elevation change, etc.), I pick one and off I go.

That's the dream. Maybe the dream is unrealistic, but currently reality is so far removed from this it's almost laughable.

Everyone says “use PlugShare”, but
  • This morning when I went to try to use it to plan an imaginary trip from Stockholm to Brunswick, the trip planner had vanished from the site. It's back now, but that doesn't make it feel dependable.
  • Charger information is patchy. Sometimes it knows the power rating for the chargers, but sometimes it doesn't, and in any case, you can't filter out the slow ones. It doesn't always know which chargers are in use.
  • Doesn't show elevation change, which is often critical.
  • Adding chargers to your route is cumbersome — you don't know how far away a charger is without first adding it to your route.
  • You can't save/share trips you've planned.

I quite like ChargeHub, in particular, its planner lets you share routes you've made and it knows about elevation and lets you filter by charger kW. But,
  • It's not as popular as PlugShare, so it sees fewer check-ins.
  • Charger information is even more patchy than PlugShare, it rarely knows the kW of the chargers.
  • The website is somewhat counterintuitive to use, although you can at least know how far away a charger is before adding it.

Next up, Chargepoint provides pretty detailed information (kW rating and availability) on chargers from themselves, Blink, SemaCharge, and evGo, but doesn't list any others. It offers no trip planning.

Finally, EVgo and Blink both provide less information about their own chargers than Chargepoint does (availability but not kW rating). Their map are pretty awkward to use/get to and offer no trip planning.

In my experience, to plan a route, I need to use a hodgepodge of tools. ChargeHub is vital for elevation changes on the route. PlugShare may show some extra chargers on the route unknown to ChargeHub, And Chargepoint is necessary to sleuth some missing details about possible chargers I've found. This is clearly way too much work for anyone sane.

I feel like with Electrify America building things out, within about a year there will be enough chargers out there that I could contemplate some interesting trips, except that I'm doubtful that the planning situation will have improved at all by then.

Frankly, I'm mystified that it is as poor as it is now. Why? How is it that people check in on PlugShare and ChargeHub, but no one fills in what the kW is or takes a decent picture of the charger itself — it's always a glamor shot of their car being charged with the charger itself a dim half-cropped-out smudge in the background.

What do you folks think?
 

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I second the OP's thoughts.

I'd even be happy with one of the apps that tell me what is within walking distance of a given charger. When planning a longer trip where I'll need a fast charge, it becomes far more tolerable and easier to know I'll need to spend an hour with a coffee shop, restaurants, mall, etc. nearby, as opposed to a random lot in a strip mall with little means to kill time. Granted, Starbucks isn't my idea of a great time - but it sure beats an industrial area or a hotel parking lot.

Filtering the comments on the various charge sites or Google maps is OK, but not terribly efficient.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Plugshare + GreenRace.
GreenRace takes elevation change into effect, and has the Bolt EV
performance specs as one of the options.
Great tip, thanks!

The GreenRace tool is really cool for modeling how much energy a trip will use, but it's also clearly designed for Europe (metric only) and a bit cumbersome to use (hard to consider possible stopping points to the trip).

Again, this hints at what could be but so far isn't.
 

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Yes, PlugShare and we EV users could make the app much more useful. If they would develop standard (database) fields, we could enter the altitude, max charging parameters, and “in-use” status. They could expand their filtering capability to filter by kW. Net descents gain you ~ 6-8 kW per 1000 feet with steeper downgrades gaining you less. Net ascents “cost” you 8-10 kW per 1000 feet climbed with steeper upgrades using up more power. I know we drivers would do our share. Come on PlugShare, let us help you make the best EV trip planning tool!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yes, PlugShare and we EV users could make the app much more useful. If they would develop standard (database) fields, we could enter the altitude, max charging parameters, and “in-use” status. They could expand their filtering capability to filter by kW.
Yes, they could absolutely make check-ins more useful by asking users a few simple questions. Maybe even do it Waze style with (meaningless) points to get for being a good contributor.

It could actually capture absolute location and altitude automagically using your phone's GPS without needing any user data entry at all.

But really, all this info is already known by the charging networks. They should have connections to these networks because everybody wins. People will use chargers when they know they can use them.

Net descents gain you ~ 6-8 kW per 1000 feet with steeper downgrades gaining you less. Net ascents “cost” you 8-10 kW per 1000 feet climbed with steeper upgrades using up more power.
First, you must mean kWh (energy, 1 kWh = 3.6 mega joules) not kW (power, 1 kW = 1000 joules per second).

Second, that's way too high. The maximum possible energy gain from descending 1000 ft (with 100% efficient energy capture) is 1.412 kWh.
 

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First, you must mean kWh (energy, 1 kWh = 3.6 mega joules) not kW (power, 1 kW = 1000 joules per second).

Second, that's way too high. The maximum possible energy gain from descending 1000 ft (with 100% efficient energy capture) is 1.412 kWh.

Absolutely. I missed the "h". Thanks.

I miscalculated (math errors) my range gains also. I based my estimates on several trips I had made in the past 6 months. Once, driving home from VA, I had 90 miles range showing with 100 miles to go. I descended 2000 feet over the next 60 miles and had increased my range to 70 miles to go the last 40. This 40 miles gained divided by 3.5 miles/kWh gave me 11.4 kWh gained, BUT ONLY 5.7 kWh/1K'. Last month, driving to MD, I had 94 miles range with 90 miles to go. I had 40 "in the tanks" upon arrival, gaining 36 miles of range over a descent of ~2000' in 90 miles. @3.3 miles/kWh, this was a gain of 10.9 kWh in 2000' or 5.4 kWh/1K'. I apologize for my errors. These are "very rough" estimates, but in several other drives, I achieved similar results. I do know, however, that when you see 90 miles range to go 100 miles, you DO drive differently and this, as much as the descent, could add to the range reserve.
 

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...What do you folks think?
Have a look here: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct...er-tutorial/&usg=AOvVaw1Vd2v8eyqNGh1IGd_EP_RD

I know its supposed to be a Tesla only app, but Bolt users could use the Model 3 standard battery with 18areo wheels to get a close estimate, knowing that they will have a nice safety buffer due to the Bolt's longer range. The software accounts for elevation, temp, wind, speed... and its free for the standard edition. Having not used the software yet myself, I realize that it has a focus on superchargers, but I am hoping that the user will also be able to filter for other DCFC L3 and L2 destination chargers. I hope this type of software will eventually be included as standard from all manufacturers, but that may be just wishful thinking.
 

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So for a while I used plugshare + greenrace, but now there is something much better out. Its called A Better Route Planner .

This tool allows you to put all kinds of parameters into it which impact range. Things such as:
starting state of charge, weather conditions (wind speed, direction, and temperature), it takes into account elevation, you can add "weight" to your vehicle which impacts its efficiency. You can even put if its raining or snowing, and if you have any extra power drawn from accessories running.

Another cool feature is that it automatically shows which DCFC stations to stop along your route. It also provides the Bolt as an option for the car, so the efficiency and battery capacity estimates are correct. Another useful thing is it tells you for long to charge at each stop, and what your total driving/charging time would be during the trip.

It really is the best thing I've seen in route planning to date...
 

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I may not know how to use A Better Route Planner. But when I test by asking for a route from Albuquerque to Durango, CO, it says just go directly on what I know (from ICEV experience) is the shortest route, 220 miles. I also know from Plug Share that there are no stations to recharge on that route. There is no way that it is safe to go 220 miles in my Bolt uphill to Durango from here without recharging along the way. Using Plug Share I can find a way to safely recharge twice along a somewhat longer route.
 

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I may not know how to use A Better Route Planner. But when I test by asking for a route from Albuquerque to Durango, CO, it says just go directly on what I know (from ICEV experience) is the shortest route, 220 miles. I also know from Plug Share that there are no stations to recharge on that route. There is no way that it is safe to go 220 miles in my Bolt uphill to Durango from here without recharging along the way. Using Plug Share I can find a way to safely recharge twice along a somewhat longer route.
Yeah, setting it to 15 degrees C and no wind, the planner recommends that you can only go 90 km/hr and make it. Best to recharge in the middle of that route.
 

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There are also places in a better route planner where it thinks a CHAdeMO station is a CCS station. If you have to verify everything ABRP tells you using another app to avoid being stranded, then it is not yet ready for prime time.

Keith
 

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There are also places in a better route planner where it thinks a CHAdeMO station is a CCS station. If you have to verify everything ABRP tells you using another app to avoid being stranded, then it is not yet ready for prime time.

Keith
That's true, and I have had this experience before. So you do need to check Plugshare to verify that the correct plug is there for you to use.

However, you should check Plugshare anyways to make sure the station is actually working. For now, there is no getting around checking Plugshare, but ABRP does so much of the work for you, that you can almost exclusively rely on it now.
 
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