The Ultimate Guide to Planning an EV Road Trip in Michigan

Clean energy advances and electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure have exploded across the country, and few states have surpassed the initiatives taking place in Michigan.

An electric car charging station in a parking lot
EV Charging Station in Marshall| Photo Courtesy of Pure Michigan

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Thanks to Michigan’s growing renewable energy network, it’s never been easier to plan an EV road trip in the Great Lakes State.

Here’s how Michigan is driving the expansion of traveler infrastructure for EV drivers, and how to plan your own EV getaway to Michigan.

Michigan Leads the Way in EV Initiatives

Michigan has invested more than $20 billion in clean energy and is home to several EV battery manufacturers and charging companies. As a result, visitors will find travel services and attractions across the state geared up for EV road trips. Whether your itinerary includes a stay at a luxury hotel or camping at a Michigan state park, chances are good there will be an EV charger nearby. And a new partnership between Hertz and GM means you can even reserve an EV as a rental car.  

Tips for Planning a Michigan EV Road Trip

Before setting off on your own EV road trip through Michigan, follow these tips.

1. Become familiar with your EV’s capabilities.

If you are new to driving EVs, know your vehicle’s range before you go. EV documentation indicates the mileage range you can expect on a road trip, but you are wise to dig deeper. Is the manufacturer’s range based on city or highway driving? How much variation can you expect if you operate the car’s climate control, headlights, and other power accessories? This EV range calculator as well as several range calculator phone apps can answer questions and help calculate on the fly.

2. Download EV travel apps.

In addition to EV range calculation, EV travel apps can help you plan a route, locate available charging stations, and determine available charger types in real time. Check out the free apps from PlugShare, DTE Energy (which differentiates stations by public, private and power level), ChargePoint, GreenCars and Electrify America’s map of public EV charging locations.

3. Learn the difference between EV chargers.

Become educated about the differences between EV chargers, ranging from Levels 1 (slower, best for powering overnight) through 3 (fast enough for a charge over lunch).  Learn which is best for your vehicle and itinerary as well as the cost differences between them. ChargeHub offers a comprehensive, easy-to-use primer.

4. Research and plan your route.

While Michigan’s network of EV charging stations is growing every day, mapping out a route is key to trouble-free travel. Will your trip include Michigan’s urban centers, where chargers are widely available, or venture into more rural areas and state parks? Double-check the availability of chargers for your vehicle using EV apps like PlugShare and ChargeHub before you leave home and along your route. Some carmakers, like Ford, have integrated EV charger mapping capabilities directly into the infotainment systems of their EVs.

5. Overnight at hotels equipped with appropriate chargers.

The best strategy for an EV road trip is to begin each day with a fully charged battery. Book accommodations that offer EV charging stations and double-check that the stations are compatible with your vehicle. If there is no charging station on the hotel’s property, is there one nearby? And will they allow you to plug in overnight?

6. Share your travel plans with other EV drivers.

Check in with fellow EV drivers and compare notes. Where have their EV road trips taken them? Which communities were most accommodating to EV travelers? Do they suggest favorite hotels and restaurants for an upcoming road trip? Which travel apps were most helpful? There’s nothing quite like real-life experiences to ease travel planning.

Additional EV resources and a map of charging stations in Pure Michigan are available here.

About the Author: Amy S. Eckert writes about travel in destinations around the world from her home base in Holland, Michigan.