One of our newest members, Karl Roscoe, was kind enough to write up his first cross-country trip in his Polestar 2.
What I Learned on My Polestar 2 Vacation
By Karl Roscoe
Late last January I had occasion to drive cross country to North Carolina from Larkspur, Colorado. I was chomping at the bit as I had had my Polestar 2 for a little over six months and hadn’t yet had the opportunity to get out on the open road to get the full ‘electric experience.’ So here’s the rundown.
I left on 22 January, 2023 — the (very cold) morning following a winter storm of the previous two days. I was concerned about the cold and the commensurate drop in range, but I was anxious to get out and have some first-hand experience. I dutifully charged to 100% the night before and planned the snot out of the trip on ABRP, Google Maps and Plug Share. In fact, I was prepared enough that my lovely bride commented—several times—that she didn’t need to hear any more about it. My first stop was to be at Electrify America’s station off I-70 at the I-70 diner. I headed out to Limon via the Peyton Highway and picked up I-70 there. (Cue ominous music)
Because of the cold and my relative unfamiliarity with long-distance electric driving, I was paying close attention to range and battery predictions. What I wasn’t paying attention to was that my first charging stop at the EA station at the diner had been bypassed by Google Maps, and I was now headed to Goodland KS instead. That’s what I found out when I confidently pulled in to the 24/7 station, anyway. With 15% charge. It was an EvGo charger. I don’t have an EvGo account. This wasn’t Electrify America at all!
So problem #1 was that one of the chargers was inoperative. But the operating charger had a credit card slot, so I was very relieved and attempted to begin charging. Nothing happened. Oh, and I was standing in just-above ankle-deep snow going back and forth from the car to the charger. EvGo had a phone number prominently listed on the charger, so I 1-800ed them right up and began my chat with a very friendly English as Second Language Customer Service Rep. I relayed my plight and asked for help. She offered me a free charge for the inconvenience, and I was all about it! She had me repeat the sequence of events that led me up to calling her. Same result: nothing. “Please hold,’ she said. Five or eight minutes later she came back, apparently with a trainer/supervisor listening in and coaching. Repeat sequence, same result. ‘What is your EvGo account number? have you signed in?’ I told her I didn’t have an account but would certainly sign up if that was necessary. That spun into the “Let’s get you signed up’ circus. After exchanging all the necessary information several times, it seemed we were finally ready to attempt another charge. As I slogged my soaked and frozen feet from car to charger and back with a similar lack of any positive result, my helpful CS Rep said, ‘Okay, you’re all set!’ ‘No wait! I’m still not charging!’ ‘Okay, thank you, byyeee!’
Now I start looking at options. I’ve only got 15% charge and Colby is about 45% away. Just across the street is a hotel with approximately 35 Tesla brand chargers in the parking lot. That’s not even funny. That’s when I met Caleb. Caleb is a youngster, but appeared to be a competent one. I never found out for certain, but I believe he was the manager of the 24/7 station that day. He was remarkably eager to help and began looking for ways to get some electrons into my car. Even offered to let me plug the granny-charger into the wall of the station. I’d read about stranded EV-ers getting an emergency charge at an RV park—could be worth a try. Caleb whipped out his phone and had a minute or two’s earnest conversation. Turning back to me he said “Okay, Karen’s willing to let you use one of her 50 amp outlets if you leave some money when you’re done charging.’
‘Yay!’ ‘Who’s Karen?’ ‘Is there an RV park close by?’ I had some questions. Like: was the 50 amp plug a NEMA 1450. ‘Let’s look,’ said Caleb. I followed him to the edge of the parking apron and into Karen’s RV park. Right there! Karen’s power sources had NEMA 1450’s. Hallelujah! So I promised Caleb I’d buy $30 worth of stuff at his 24/7 (which was my lunch) and that I’d sing his praises to the heavens in some printed format (which is this). So if you’re ever passing through Goodland, Kansas and need some reassurance that America is still alive and well, stop in at the 24/7 station and check in with Caleb. And tell him I said thanks again.
That was my very first long-distance-travel EV charging stop. 4 hours late, with just enough charge to get to Colby, I left Karen a $20 bill and a note of thanks and continued on.
I got to Colby’s EA station and charged happily and uneventfully. I was a little confused, trying to convince Google Maps and ABRP to agree on how much juice I would need to get to Hays. After a bit I satisfied myself that I had enough and headed onward. 15 miles down the road my car started shouting at me. ‘You’ll never make it!! What were you thinking??! Turn back now or die on the Kansas Highway!’ Stuff like that. So I pulled over and began studying what the Polestar was talking about (btw’s: her name is Poleen). Yeah, for sure I didn’t have enough charge to make it to Hays, and (thank the heavens!) I get to return to the accursed Colby, Kansas EA charging station. You might imagine I was having second thoughts about EV as a legitimate transportation option.
Second time was the charm and I was on my way again, now 5 1/2 hours behind schedule. Charging at Hays went uneventfully, and I was learning how to better coordinate the information I was getting from the various apps and which app to believe and when. I clearly wasn’t going to make the east side of Kansas City on schedule, so I called my beautiful bride and asked if she couldn’t find me some accommodation in Salina. And, if she truly loved me, could she find someplace with a charger? She truly loved me, and with a song in my heart I pulled into the hotel parking lot. I spotted the chargers right away: TESLA CHARGING ONLY the sign said. I was exhausted. The EA charger was only six miles away, but I needed to be out of that car and into a hotel room. Besides, the battery had a full 14%. When I got out of the car after check-in, it alerted me with a helpful message: Man, it’s cold out there and you’ve only got 14%. Are you sure you don’t want to charge? ‘Buggar off,’ I said. ‘I’m tired.’
I woke up the first time at 3 AM. That message had gotten into my subconscious. I checked the app: 8% it said. ‘Jeez, that seems like a lot of battery loss for just a few hours,’ I said. Then I went back to sleep. It only lasted til 4:30 AM. 4% the app said. -9 degrees Fahrenheit the temperature said. I’m not gonna tell you the words that I said. So I packed up, loaded the EXTRAORDINARILY COLD car and began creeping slowly on my 6-mile journey to restore power. First I turned off the radio. Then the heater. Then the fans. Then the lights. 300 yards into my journey, the battery fell to 3%. I began to wonder how foolish I was going to feel running out of juice 50 yards from the charger.
I won’t keep you in suspense. I made it no problem. Still had all 3% when I plugged in. Had two large coffees and a giant muffin for breakfast—in the car. Because it was so cold, I swear it took 1 1/4 hours to charge. I don’t guess it helped much that I cranked the heat once the charge was above 10%. But I was starting day 2 from Salina, KS; the car was whole and operational, and I had cleared some pretty significant hurdles.
The remainder of the trip was uneventful. No, really. The car drove like a dream—particularly on the 20 mile stretch crossing the Smokies from Tennessee into North Carolina. Waahoo! In the first 24 hours I learned all the critical stuff I needed to know to operate the vehicle confidently and competently. Short of doing something titanically and foreseeably stupid, I’ll never have to suffer range anxiety again. And to those of you whom I’ve spoken to, I mean it when I said I didn’t have one single issue on my trip to the east coast and back. Any bad thing that happened was a direct result of my ignorance and incompetence. Having sorted that out, I can confidently say that my Polestar 2 is nothing but a pleasure to own!
As a final note: Who do I complain to about the $50 dues charge for this group?