May 25, 2024

Aaron Blank set out on a West Coast road trip with his son to watch the game Between Los Angeles and Seattle and return. The trip was a success; he learned tough lessons about the challenges of driving far distances by electric vehicle.

Blank is president and CEO of the Seattle-based firm Fearey Blank and has been dividing the time between Seattle in the Pacific Northwest and L.A. since the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic.

Already a proud owner of the Tesla Model X, Blank bought the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E in the spring of. Blank left L.A. on the 16th of July to go on a two-week road trip with his son, aged 10. The idea was to bring Ermias to a basketball school in California’s Bay Area, work in hotels on the way, and then visit major and minor ballparks of the league.

Aaron Blank, his son Ermias, and the family dog Gatsby are on the road. (Aaron Blank Photo)

An Instagram story with 35 photos post covers a large portion of what Blank had to deal with during the trip north and south when running out of battery power and finding charging stations, battling problems at these stations, calling customer service, and waiting in lines for charging patiently waiting to see his vehicle be set and so on.

“If you’re doing a travel adventure with an E.V., we’re just not ready for that yet,” Blank explained regarding the charger infrastructure required within the U.S. to support the ever-growing number of electric drivers.

Plus, more of those drivers are actually on the way.

Bloomberg published the news in July, stating that a “society-altering shift” is happening. It is reported that the U.S. is the latest nation to reach a crucial E.V. tipping point of 5% new car sales fueled only by electricity. According to Bloomberg’s research, the level “signals the start of mass E.V. adoption, the period when technological preferences rapidly flip.”

Blank has flipped and was prepared to convert several times during his trip. And he only went home with being utterly ignorant of the reality of E.V. mileage or the insufficiency of charging stations.

“I planned this trip, planned the stops,” Blank explained. But driving a car equipped with universal plugs left Blank with fewer charging options than Tesla drivers he encountered on the journey. At many points, Tesla’s Superchargers- the company claims to have 35,000 units worldwide- outnumbered universal chargers offered by other providers like Electrify America, E.V. Go, and Charge Point.

Blank is accustomed to making it easier for shorter local drives around L.A. and charging at home for overnight stays. His longest journey took him from L.A., San Diego, and Palm Springs, Calif. He’s a fan of the new Mustang; however, Tesla’s lead over the competition is apparent.

“I would encourage folks to just seriously consider their options,” Blank stated. “If they’re looking to do long travel, I would go Tesla.”

He has an Instagram story brimming with sarcastic, hilarious quips at almost every turn.

Aaron Blank’s comments on his Instagram story photos as he tried to charge his electric vehicle during a recent road trip. (Aaron Blank Photos)

Blank was also annoyed by his lack of direction and constant phone use.

“Each station you have to download an app or give them your information,” Blank stated. “On this West Coast drive I probably set up eight different apps and registered with different companies … they don’t work together.”

The roughest stretch of Blank’s journey was Portland and Seattle, about a 3-hour journey in perfect traffic for those driving a gasoline-powered vehicle. The trip took Blank 6 hours, and he noticed the battery’s juice levels drop to 8.8% at times. It took him 2 1/2 hours to recharge to 88%.

“That whole trip from Portland to Seattle was a nightmare,” he said.

He also provided some helpful suggestions to anyone contemplating a similar trip.

  • Choose a hotel with an electric vehicle charger to charge your vehicle overnight, get up, and be fully charged. It is essential to contact ahead to inquire about the type of charger you’re using, the number of chargers, whether it’s functioning, etc.
  • Retrace your steps: If you find the charging process successful within a particular direction and then it is possible to reverse the order or to stay in the same hotels, try this.
  • Add numbers for customer service: “It’s inevitable you will need to call [charging companies] and there’s challenges with that as you’re standing outside in 110-degree weather, sweating, trying to figure it out,” Blank explained.
  • Break the journey into smaller chunks to reduce tension: Blank made the trip in three days rather than his usual two.
  • Be patient: Getting frustrated by lines and driving to another station will only lead to further frustration.

Assistance is on the road in the form of additional government funds. Bloomberg published an article about President Biden’s five billion dollar plan to “eliminate America’s E.V. charging deserts” and establish a national charging station network that will have 500,000 charging stations that connect rural and urban regions from coast to coast.

Tesla Superchargers at a gas station in Washington state. (GeekWire File Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

In the summer of 2018, Washington state finalized its plan to install electric vehicle charging stations along the highways. Officials released schedules for the Washington State Plan for Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Development earlier this month.

The report states that the state plans to invest approximately $71 million over the next five years, with an additional $18 million in non-federal match funds to build stations.

Blank does not regret switching to E.V.s and has said he’s taking the plunge and going “all-in on electric.” He’s installing solar panels on his home’s roof and an electric battery in his garage to store surplus energy.

“I’m really trying to be carbon neutral,” Blank declared.

Even after all the hardships the journey took him across L.A. through Seattle and to Seattle, there was no better feeling than traveling with his child.

“We enjoyed our trip to the mountains. It was an enjoyable trip.”

“E.V.s are best when you’re charging where you sleep,” he explained. “But on a longer trip, yeah, it’s going to take a little bit longer. You just have to plan a little bit differently. It’s amazing how fast your car charges up when you just go get a cup of coffee. It’s almost done by the time you go into Starbucks and get your Frappuccino.”


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