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Thanksgiving is known for traffic snarls, unexpected weather, and chaotic airline delays. A new survey about Thanksgiving travel adds EVs into the equation, revealing attitudes of all-electric vehicle drivers about their intended holiday roadtrip plans.

Clean Transport

Thanksgiving Travel In An Electric Vehicle

Thanksgiving is known for traffic snarls, unexpected weather, and chaotic airline delays. A new survey about Thanksgiving travel adds EVs into the equation, revealing attitudes of all-electric vehicle drivers about their intended holiday roadtrip plans.

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Thanksgiving can be a frenzied time for travel. Extreme weather can trigger rerouting and postponements. We watch the clock tick ahead as we sit idly in highway traffic jams. Long gas lines for those driving an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle make everyone a little crazy. Waits at airports for rescheduled flights are really frustrating.

This Thanksgiving, more drivers than ever are choosing to travel via electric vehicle (EV) to their holiday destination. To learn what’s influencing traveler behavior for the holidays, conducted a nationwide survey regarding consumers’ Thanksgiving plans. The 2022 Thanksgiving survey offers a whole bunch of interesting insights into how travelers — including those driving EVs — are planning for upcoming pilgrimages this holiday.

Let’s zoom in on the survey findings that relate particularly to EV drivers. This data helps us to understand the evolution of EV usage and driver attitudes as all-electric transportation becomes more and more common.

The survey indicated that having a confluence of charging stations and EVs on the road on Thanksgiving trips was quite high — 86%. EV drivers have been reduced to no range anxiety if they can depend on a network of charging stations along their route. As a Tesla Model Y driver with over 300 miles of range, I know I can travel along I-95 in Florida with relative ease due to the frequency of proprietary Tesla Superchargers. At the moment, there are more than 35,000 Supercharger stalls worldwide. The Tesla gives me a boost of assurance on out-of-town trips.

49% said that having charging stations along their route is very convenient. For those who are not Tesla EV drivers, the Biden-Harris administration has announced that federal officials have approved plans to expand a network of available electric vehicle charging stations by every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. That gives those governments access to a $5 billion share of money to deploy plug-in charging systems for the US and its fast-growing fleet of electric vehicles.

18% say they plan to take their EV on their Thanksgiving trip. EVs continue to see steady adoption and integration into consumers’ lives. While that seems like a small overall percentage, 10 years ago that number seemed a mere pipe dream. What will the percentage be driving an EV to their destination on Thanksgiving 2032?

Of those planning to drive to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving, 66% told survey staffer that range anxiety affects their travel distance. I’m starting to think of “range anxiety” as a press relations term rather than an accurate way to describe the necessary planning and analysis inherent in longer EV trips. Hey, I remember my dad laying out the maps on the floor ahead of time, planning routes and bathroom breaks for his young family. Perhaps better phrasing than “range anxiety” would allude to a JD Power study in which many EV owners cite out-of-service chargers as a major concern — even as more chargers are installed across the country. Forbes suggests that charging companies could sell Thanksgiving Fast Passes which provide short waits for dependable Thanksgiving supercharging.

55% said that they are traveling 51-100 miles in their EV. The dilemma about a 300-mile EV range being a deal breaker is mythologized and can be easily refuted. 65% of all drivers (EV and ICE) plan to travel within 50 miles of home. Rather than a lengthy cross-country trip involving several overnight stops, most EV and ICE drivers will enjoy a Thanksgiving visit and return home the same day. Thanksgiving is all about the comfort of tradition, and traveling by EV within the 100-mile range means reaching out to friends and family during the holiday season — but also having shorter overall travel time, possibly commuting with small children, and maybe even bringing along the family pet.

14% said they are traveling more than 100 miles in their EV. As my colleague Jennifer Sensiba wrote recently, EV travel for short and longer distances is absolutely manageable if one plans ahead, maps out routes, identifies chargers, and recognizes that longer travel in an EV requires a reflective mindset. A “road warrior trip” is possible and, with the right attitude and road trip plan, fun.

62% of all drivers in the survey indicated that they prefer to drive rather than fly when exceeding 100 miles. 92% of those who reconsidered Thanksgiving travel decisions due to flight disruptions are now planning to travel by car. With so many airlines being called out for their heat-trapping condensation trails, climate crisis realization seems to be taking place. In fact, 80% of all drivers said they are traveling by car for Thanksgiving. As concluded, not only is driving typically more affordable than flying, but it also allows travelers to have more control over the trips. While traffic is often a wild card, at least the departure time and stops along the route can be anticipated with relative accuracy.

58% of respondents said they don’t typically travel for Thanksgiving at all. Indeed, 24% cite higher costs as the reason for not traveling.  Perhaps Facetime and Zoom chats suffice and replace stressful Thanksgiving travel and family renewals today for a good number of people. Then again, saving money on holiday travel can come down to making the trip as efficient as possible. Hopping in an EV is a very efficient means of travel.

Final Thoughts about Driving an EV for Thanksgiving — and Life

One of the unsung benefits of driving an EV to Thanksgiving dinner and sharing in the food, family, and fun is that EV charging costs a whole lot less than buying gas. With complaints about inflationary groceries and other items’ costs post-Covid, an EV offers opportunities for locally sourced electricity at prices well below the cost of filling up at a gas station. Fuel efficiency reigns in an EV.

What other thanks should we as EV drivers give during this season? We’re grateful for our EVs because…

  • The rapid acceleration gives us the ability to adjust quickly in unexpected driving situations.
  • Having the newest tech means that we are driving the most efficient and capable vehicles on the road.
  • Because many new people are now starting to appreciate the gift of all-electric transportation, more consumers means different models and options every year.
  • An EV’s smooth and quiet drive is relaxing and soothing.
  • Being able to charge at home the majority of the time is really convenient.
  • Our EV has fewer maintenance costs than those ICE vehicles we owned years ago with all their moving parts.
  • We find great solace in driving a zero emissions vehicle as individuals who are very concerned about the climate crisis.
  • We breath with relief knowing that, even when charging an EV with electricity made only from coal — the dirtiest electricity source — the EV has better emissions than the average new compact ICE vehicle.

Thanksgiving is a joyous time. Let’s continue to reveal our own strategies for creating safe and happy EV road trips. In that way, we’ll continue to learn from each other and grow together as a community of EV drivers.

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Written By

Carolyn Fortuna (they, them), Ph.D., is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. Carolyn has won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavy Foundation. Carolyn is a small-time investor in Tesla and an owner of a Model Y as well as a Chevy Bolt. Please follow Carolyn on Twitter and Facebook.


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