Route planning tools for a successful and/or less stressful road trip in your EV

Discussion in 'General' started by BillLin, Feb 12, 2023.

  1. BillLin

    BillLin PV solar, geothermal HVAC, hybrids and electrics

    Wayne has had much experience planning his various world record breaking endeavors in EVs. He has shared his routes and also called upon the community for crowd-sourced information to optimize his cross-country trips. I don't recall seeing any special software involved, or something made for the specific requirements of EVs. I have of course used the most popular mapping program out there called Google Maps. I use it daily.

    I just came across an app that I think looks very useful at first glance. It turns out CleanMPG member, Carcus, had already mentioned this one back in 2018! The free version demonstrates full functionality that I find astounding in its detail. Hopefully, the precision is backed up by real life accuracy when the time comes. I hope to find out one of these days on a road trip in an EV, perhaps during my annual trip in November. This won't be a world record attempt by any stretch of the imagination. I just want the stops, charging times, and expected vehicle SOC (state of charge) to be fairly accurate. Seasonal factors are applied in the free version, though the paid version offers live weather linking.

    Are there users of "A Better Route Planner" who would like to share their experiences with the program? And are there other programs of this type that people care to recommend?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. BillLin

    BillLin PV solar, geothermal HVAC, hybrids and electrics

    I toyed with ABRP and a hypothetical road trip from Central Massachusetts to Tennessee, where my sister has moved to.

    I tried out some current EV models in the planner. Since I cannot reasonably plug all variations in, I selected some hopefully good trims for long distance travel, representative of the EV model. I intentionally also chose some unthinkable EVs that are obviously "FSPs" and should remain rarities. I mainly wanted to see as broad a range of capabilities as I could. I'm also taking ABRP's assumptions at face value. I did not validate their database.

    Here are some results based on ABRP's database and their assumptions for these vehicles, and appropriate charging networks that they currently have easy access to, so Teslas would charge on Tesla's supercharger network, and the rest would be on the commercial fast charging networks. Those interested in traveling using Level 2 chargers need not comment. :D

    The data for these tables is extracted from screen captures from the ABRP app, so if there's additional detail you wish to see, I can possibly upload a few of the screen captures. I won't do them all. :) The better (i.e. faster trip, shorter charging sessions) road trippers usually spent less than 30 minutes at a stop, and more often under 20 minutes. Some of the slower ones spent over an hour charging at some stops, so I'm guessing the trip planning didn't work out well for charger availability along the travel route.

    Edit: spoiler alert - the "winner" was the Model 3 for charging efficiency and best charging network

    Edits: assumptions that were all mine, I started and ended the trip with 50% charge in the battery; 500 pounds of excess baggage

    Note: these samples were generated in the middle of February, so warmer weather travel conditions and results should be better

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Feb 22, 2023
    EdwinTheMagnificent and litesong like this.
  3. litesong

    litesong litesong

    litesong, with a handkerchief tied in his mouth, said, “………………………………………mmmmm-mmmmm-ugh!”
    BillLin and EdwinTheMagnificent like this.
  4. Lee Moon

    Lee Moon Active Member

    I used ABRP extensively doing hypothetical road trips when I was researching EVs. I found it a very useful way to do comparisons between different vehicles and also different lengths of trips (from 100 mile to cross-country round trips.)

    I picked up a 2022 Chevy Bolt EV 1LT based on the trips I expect to take. They would have only 1 or 2 charging stops each way, so not long trips. A cross country trip in the Bolt would test my patience. LOL!

    The 2 (one day) road trips I've taken so far were only 227-ish miles and 255-ish miles round trips. ABRP predicted using a little more energy than what I actually used, even after giving it the slightly lower speeds I would be driving on those routes. So I'm happy that it wasn't over optimistic as the 227 mile trip had no fast chargers anywhere along the route. Though I charged once on the 255 mile trip, I didn't need to. The Bolt could have made it with between 15% and 18% remaining without that charge stop. ABRP estimated 12% SOC remaining on that round trip.

    My starting set up with ABRP assumes 100% initial SOC and arriving at chargers and the destination at 10%. I might also adjust the route by trying different max speeds (always a little lower than max speed limits), placing preferred charge stops as waypoints, and/or plugging in adjusted target SOC per stop. I use ABRP in conjunction with Plugshare, Electrify America, and ChargePoint to show routes with higher reliability chargers. These are all for those hypothetical trips just to see how the Bolt might perform and how long a trip with charging stops could take. Pretty much what you've done, BillLin.

    Also, I use the Classic web version of ABRP. I like the UI a lot more than the non-Classic and app versions. While driving, I use the Bolt's Infotainment system navi app and it works well for guidance - I haven't used it for charge stop routing yet.

    Anyway, big fan of ABRP for my meager needs so far.

  5. BillLin

    BillLin PV solar, geothermal HVAC, hybrids and electrics

    Thanks for your detailed comments, Lee. I like your use of the tool and definitely agree with the more likely 100% starting charge level.

    I will also take a look at the web version.

    I would probably also take your approach of using specific stops as waypoints. I'm not quite confident enough to let the tool dictate everything for the charging stops. I also use ChargePoint and Plugshare for learning about what chargers are available. I have the EA app though I have not used their network. I've used EVgo many years ago under a promotional program and still have an account and the app. I have only seen and used 50 kW chargers on that network.

    Thanks also for your mention of how ABRP was slightly on the conservative side for your Bolt's efficiency on the trips you've taken. More peace of mind. Adjusting speed settings in the tool is also what I would do. I failed to mention I capped the top speed at 75 mph, down from the default 85 mph. Actual speeds will naturally be lower for most participants here.

    Edit: Excellent choice in the Bolt EV.
    By the way, I also forgot to mention I added a 500 lb penalty for my hypothetical analysis. :D
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2023
  6. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    I thought charging to 100% was not good for maximum battery life?
    litesong and BillLin like this.
  7. BillLin

    BillLin PV solar, geothermal HVAC, hybrids and electrics

    It's not that bad if you're topping off at home and leaving right away. For me, I'd try for no more than 95% from home since I'm on a hill. Regen is limited at 100%.

    If/when I get to where I'm in a routine from home, I'd probably vary the charge around 50% while driving around town.

    Edit: My Lenovo laptop is plugged in all the time, but there's a very handy feature that allows the battery to remain at 50% even while plugged it. I wish other battery operated devices that see a lot of plugged-in time had that capability.
    EdwinTheMagnificent and litesong like this.
  8. litesong

    litesong litesong

    I live on a 150-200 foot hill AND descend down in two directions. How high is your hill, that you give a 95% top up limit? & was that for a smaller battery hybrid? I’m patient & will enjoy the places I charge at. So I probably won’t charge so fully as to 95% on long trips.
    EdwinTheMagnificent and BillLin like this.
  9. BillLin

    BillLin PV solar, geothermal HVAC, hybrids and electrics

    I just pulled the 95% out of... the air. It isn't worth it to me to fine tune a big battery to that level. Is 99% good? Or 98%? Yes, definitely with my 5.5 kWh usable batteries, 95% or less would be my choice. I have often pulled the plug while in the final 3-5 Amp charge top-up on the smaller batteries and come back later to find the BMS had balanced the cells and declared the charge at 100%. You would think it should go down a little after balancing.

    Our hill is only a couple hundred feet as well, in either direction of the street, but the Prius Prime and the Crosstrek Hybrid (retired) at full charge would almost always start up the engine and spin it if it is cold out. So, I learned to back off from full charges, as well as force a little friction brake usage if I feel the battery is starting to back off on regen acceptance. Anything to stop the engine from starting up. :) It'll be nice to get into an EV where that (engine startup) cannot happen.
    litesong likes this.
  10. Trollbait

    Trollbait Well-Known Member

    Very few EV's display 100% is the battery's true 100%.
    BillLin likes this.
  11. Lee Moon

    Lee Moon Active Member

    You're welcome, BillLin!

    And thank you for the kind comment about the Bolt EV. I did find that the Bolt fit my needs despite the slower DCFC charging rate. Then Chevy dropped the price for the 2022/2023 Bolts and I was all in on it.
    I'm in the part of the bell curve where I can charge at home, have local DCFC (when needed), and don't typically go on road trips more than 400 miles each day. For the money, the Bolt worked out as an excellent deal for me. I had taken exceptionally good care of my 2011 Honda CR-Z and got a little more than I was asking for when trading it in on the Bolt. Also paid no dealer mark up from a great Chevy dealership (Mike Reed Chevy in Hinesville, GA.) Drove off with the Bolt and paid less than $25K including taxes, registration, etc. this past September.

    ABRP played a significant role in deciding which EVs I'd be interested in buying. Doing all those what-if route plans really helped inform me of what I might expect from various models. Then it was time for me to think about how I'd realistically use whatever EV I decided on. My choices had been a Tesla Model 3 Long Range, Kia Niro EV, Bolt EV, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, and VW ID.4. I had wanted Honda to be in the EV game with a serious contender, but alas, we will have to wait on that it seems. :) I believe I would have been happy with any of those choices, but the Bolt's price, smaller size, and nice features list (base model plus the extra safety suite) finally won me over.

    Despite the Bolt's navi app (both in car and iPhone) that I think does charger routing, I truly prefer doing my planning with ABRP. Hands down. Then I just put in my waypoints (chargers, restaurants, shopping) and destination in the Chevy navi and let it guide me. Oh, and the Bolt has a Weather Channel app in the infotainment system, so I can see current conditions/forecast data and radar snapshots while driving. Very helpful for seeing weather conditions I'll be driving through.

    That said, I still load the ABRP app on my iPhone with the route I generated from the ABRP web site as a backup in case Chevy's navi doesn't work. Haven't needed to fall back to that yet. As I mentioned earlier, I love the ABRP classic web page vs. the newer style web interface and app interface. But that's just me, I'm sure. :)

    As a side note: I've also used the EA app and it does a mostly good job of navigating to their chargers and start/end charging from the app (on the iPhone or via CarPlay on the infotainment screen.). Downside is that it will sometimes get my location wrong. Sometimes by a couple of hundred feet and once it thought I was in Arizona, not Georgia. LOL. Now I mostly use EA strictly to initiate charging since ABRP does a great job of getting me to the chargers regardless of provider.

    Have a great day, everyone!

    litesong and BillLin like this.
  12. BillLin

    BillLin PV solar, geothermal HVAC, hybrids and electrics

    Lee, you were right about the extra niceties in the web version of ABRP. Thanks!

    I especially like the elevation graph at any point in a route.
    Lee Moon and litesong like this.
  13. litesong

    litesong litesong

    Hi Lee! Me……I can’t afford the Bolt yet. Maybe next year, altho I’ve been saying that for the last 3 years. Here in Washington state, one extra advantage of the Bolt, is that its short length qualifies for a round-trip $6 discount on Ferry Boats. In Georgia, such a ferry boat discount might also exist &/or in other coastal states, too. If I can eventually get the Bolt, I want to travel across the Salish Sea (Puget Sound) much more than I have in the past, so the discount should save me considerably. The Port Townsend Ferry run is particularly exciting, with possible whale, sea animals & Orca sightings, as well as nuclear submarine & large shipping sightings. For anyone commuting by Ferry boat, the discount would be a major savings.

    I wonder, does the ABRP give up-to-date wind directions? In our eastern Washington & other high plains states, great winds have much to do with EV range increases & decreases.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2023
    Lee Moon and BillLin like this.
  14. BillLin

    BillLin PV solar, geothermal HVAC, hybrids and electrics

    Live weather costs extra, but that information is easily available elsewhere, though not integrated into ABRP.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2023
    Lee Moon and litesong like this.
  15. Lee Moon

    Lee Moon Active Member

    BillLin, I also like the elevation graphs and speed limits at any point on the route. I'm glad you gave the web version a try! :)

    If you haven't found it, here's the link to the "Classic" version of ABRP. For me, it's a lot nicer to use than the regular version of the website or the app.

    BillLin likes this.
  16. Lee Moon

    Lee Moon Active Member

    Hi, litesong!

    When I was considering various EVs, I really wanted a 2-door EV coupe. That I could afford. So no Tesla Roadster 2.0 for me. LOL! I've always loved the look of the Bolt EV and it actually shares an almost identical footprint with the Honda CR-Z (2-door hybrid) that I traded in. I think of the Bolt as a taller 4-door EV version of the CR-Z. :) Or maybe an EV version of the 2nd gen Honda Insight (mom has a 2010 Insight). With my 2011 CR-Z trade-in, I actually paid less for the Bolt including tag, taxes, registration, etc. than I did for the CR-Z in August 2010. I hope you are able to get into a Bolt or whatever EV that interests you next year or so. :)

    I don't know if ABRP has the capability to adjust itself with live weather data. I do believe you can use an OBD dongle to feed it vehicle data and thus get better predictions of remaining range, SOC, etc. with ABRP. You have to subscribe to it for that feature (I think.). With the web site, you can make some manual adjustment for weather (wind and road conditions) and I suspect the app might allow that as well.

    The best solutions I've used are using the iPhone's Weather app and the Windy app to spot check weather conditions at various points along the route before I leave and then during pit stops along the way. My favorite iPhone app is Windy with it's wind map. It's easy to use and to see what direction/intensity the wind is coming from and it gives the usual weather conditions.

    I've got an unlimited data plan via Onstar(?)/AT&T for the Bolt. The infotainment system has an "app store" of sorts and that's where I added the free Chevy Maps+ navi and Weather Channel apps to the car. Those use the data plan and are both useful and I do use them. Mostly I use the Weather Channel app to display non-moving radar of my current position if I think I'll be driving into bad weather.

    I'd love to see the auto industry add more comprehensive solutions for navi/route planning akin to ABRP and what Tesla does. We can always hope! :)

    BillLin likes this.
  17. BillLin

    BillLin PV solar, geothermal HVAC, hybrids and electrics

    I just found a quick way to load the web version of ABRP on my Android phone. When the Chrome options show "install app," that is actually for the progressive web app. I previously thought I have the app already so I hadn't bothered clicking install. I just did. This results in an app added to the Android app library, and that app icon can serve as an icon that you use anywhere such as in folders or right on the Android desktop to launch the progressive web app, also known as the web version of ABRP.
    Lee Moon likes this.
  18. Lee Moon

    Lee Moon Active Member

    That's awesome, BillLin! I had been thinking about doing something similar on my iPhone and/or iPad Pro. You inspired me to give it a try and it worked. Now there's a "bookmark" icon on my iPhone home screen that I named "ABRP Classic". It launches the classic web version of ABRP so that it looks like an app. Also, my last vehicle and route settings appear to be preserved between uses. So happy about this. :)

    Only downside is that I can't use Apple CarPlay to project it on the Bolt's Infotainment screen, which was expected. I did look at Apple's Developer documentation regarding CarPlay and there are a number of strict requirements for allowing apps to appear via CarPlay.

    Anyway, having an app-like version of Classic ABRP on the iPhone is a huge plus for me. This will give me quick access to my planned route during charge/rest/food stops.

    Thanks again for the inspiration to do this, BillLin!!


    Screenshot of ABRP Classic saved-web-app-bookmark-thingie on iPhone:

    Setting up for an imaginary round trip -- home to/from Tampa, FL.
    BillLin likes this.
  19. BillLin

    BillLin PV solar, geothermal HVAC, hybrids and electrics

    Lee, I'm glad you were inspired and got something useful from the effort! Good job!

    As far as CarPlay or Android Auto, if I desperately want it in any vehicle, I would buy one of the many add-ons out there and stick it on the dash just below my driving line of sight and have instant wireless CarPlay or AA. I like the low profile extra wide displays. But since I don't drive much, I have not had the need. Though I did play with the wired AA on my Crosstrek before I sold it, I never got too used to the AA, and the built in nav (TomTom) was good enough whenever I was in unknown regions.

    Edit: nice avatar! :)
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2023

Share This Page