Can You Drive an Electric Car Across the Country?

Jack R. Nerad | Apr 07, 2021

While many who have driven and owned them sing the praises of electric vehicles, one concern that remains is an EV's ability to make a lengthy drive. People considering an EV might rightly ask: Can you drive an electric car cross-country?

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Cross Country Drive

According to Volkswagen, the answer is yes, and easily.

In the first stages of launching its new EV — the Volkswagen ID.4 — in North America, the automaker decided to address this consumer concern head-on. It dispatched Dustin Krause, director, e-Mobility, Volkswagen of America, on a cross-continent drive. The idea was to validate that a pure EV like the ID.4 could complete what turned out to be a 6,700-mile trek without difficulty, strain, or angst, otherwise known as range anxiety.

"We have been driving across the country in our new ID.4 EV just to show the capability of the car," Krause told us. "This vehicle is a compact SUV that can go anywhere at zero emissions. But it also can do that at zero cost, using the Electrify America, DC fast-charging network. That network has grown to over 500 locations nationwide. And we wanted to prove the car's capability."

Volkswagen provides three years of free Electrify America charging station use with every ID.4 purchase.

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Krause and the ID.4 took a meandering route across the U.S. that reflected both a desire to get across the country and the individual interests of the driving team. Stops in major cities included Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Cleveland, Chicago, Nashville, Atlanta, Orlando, New Orleans, Dallas, Austin, El Paso, Tucson, Phoenix, Los Angles, San Jose, and San Francisco. Krause also visited lesser-known places like Marfa, Tex., Savannah, Ga., and Columbus, Ind.

"I've always wanted to visit Columbus, Ind., because I'm really into mid-century modern architecture, and it's one of the Meccas for that," Krause said. "So we went all over Columbus to check that out. And that day, we drove about 500 miles."

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Instead of following the planned route that included San Diego, Krause and the ID.4 made an unscheduled overnight stop in Joshua Tree National Park, near Indio, Calif.

"A big highlight for us, we went to Joshua Tree National Park," Krause said. "And what was great is there were a lot of VW people there, a lot of folks in the old Westfalia buses and old dune buggies. And it was just great to be part of that VW culture where these folks weren't expecting to see us there, and then it seemed like we all got together and celebrated this new product." 

The Volkswagen team charged the ID.4 at 32 different Electrify America charging stations along the way, and Krause told us the team did a lot of overnight charging at selected hotels as well.

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The objective of this exercise was to verify that a cross-country trip isn't just possible in a pure EV but also that it can be pleasurable.

"What we really tried to do is solve the three big hurdles to someone purchasing an electric car," Krause said. "The first one being the price point — electric cars up until this point have been pretty pricey. This car starts at under $40,000.”

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 and Electrify America Charging Station

“The second thing is range and the ID.4 has 250 miles of range,” Krause continued. “And the third thing is, where do I charge? And now that we have a large network of chargers, and we include that in the price of the vehicle, it really should take away any of the hesitancy to move to an EV." 

Over the course of several weeks, the ID.4 team drove more than 6,700 miles while simultaneously creating a daily vlog series on YouTube to show highlights from each day. A short documentary showing the trip will launch in the coming weeks as well.

Volkswagen is the source of information for this article. It was accurate on April 7, 2021, but it may have changed since that date.

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