700-Mile Trip in an EV Is Totally Doable (Hint: It Requires Extra Planning)

2023 mercedes eqb bay city meijer charging bays in michigan
A 700-Mile Trip in an EV Is Not That DifficultTom Murphy
  • We used DC fast charging each time—in small towns, no less—and generally found shopping, food, or a scenic walk in the woods while we waited about 45 minutes for the battery to top off.

  • You can put a nervous mind at ease by using a digital map of Michigan’s mitten showing about 1300 public EV charging stations (including at least 200 DC fast chargers) from Ann Arbor to Zeeland. Same is true for many other states.

  • On the way home, we charged at a 175-kW DC fast charger in small-town West Branch at a Ford dealership that is struggling to recoup its investment in the charging infrastructure.

It’s understood that some road trips are more involved than others. It’s also become clear that battery-electric vehicles can indeed be used for long distances, if the driver prepares adequately by mapping all the potential recharging points along the way—with enough options to account for chargers that are disabled, under construction, or unavailable.


For those of you open to the idea of owning an EV but haven’t pulled the trigger because you need a car for a few long journeys a year, I can say that an EV is up to the task and that the chargers are out there.

No, they don’t all work, but I recharged four times during a 700-mile round trip and along the way encountered only one inactive charger.

Better yet, I used DC fast charging each time—in small towns, no less—and generally found shopping, food, or a scenic walk in the woods while we waited about 45 minutes for the battery to top off. The EQB can fast-charge at a rate of 100 kW.

2023 mercedes eqb charging in northern michigan
2023 Mercedes EQB interior.Tom Murphy

Our test drive vehicle was a 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQB250 crossover with more than enough space for two adults and a week’s worth of luggage and stuff.

Let’s Trade Horsepower for Range

This front-wheel-drive two-row small ute carried a sticker price of $59,325 and moved capably with 188 hp and 284 lb-ft of torque. Yes, one could complain that it’s dull on the outside, but it performed flawlessly during this week-long jaunt that saw highway speeds close to 80 mph.

Even if this EQB was not ludicrous fast, it delivered brisk acceleration, whether from a standstill or at speed. As for me, I’d happily trade lower horsepower and torque numbers for longer range.

2023 mercedes eqb charging in northern michigan
Mercedes EQB alongside Walloon Lake, where Ernest Hemingway spent summers as a young man.Tom Murphy

There were times when we charged this two-row crossover to 223 miles and other times when we reached 235 miles, but there was also a second range number that appeared after charging, and each time it said “max 250 mi.”

I took that as a coaching mechanism, suggesting I could drive efficiently (maintain moderate speeds, keep the HVAC settings on low, etc.) and extend my range in a meaningful way.

One of the more difficult aspects of this trip was convincing my wife that we would not get stranded, and that functional charging stations would be accessible during our travels.

Nervous Nellie Can Climb Onboard

You can put a nervous mind at ease by using a digital map of Michigan’s mitten showing about 1300 public EV charging stations (including at least 200 DC fast chargers) from Ann Arbor to Zeeland. You’ll have similar luck doing searches in other densely populated states in the US.

Admittedly, I knew the real-world experience might be disappointing. Still, I wanted to see for myself if such a trip would be possible, driving straight north from metro Detroit on Interstate 75 to the northern reaches of the Lower Peninsula—just about to the Mackinac Bridge—290 miles away.

chargehub michigan ev map
ChargeHub map shows plentiful EV charging stations in Michigan.Tom Murphy

We’d have to charge at least once before reaching our destination, as we shoved off with a reported 237 miles of range stashed in the 70.5-kWh lithium-ion battery pack.

In planning our first stop to refuel, I knew this was a big opportunity for a positive first impression to help my skeptical wife embrace the EV age.

I also didn’t want that first charging experience to involve sitting around at a grungy rest stop for an hour or so. The map showed me a charger at scenic Bay City State Park, right on Saginaw Bay, which meant we could walk the beach while the EQB gathers electrons.

Meijer Is Michigan’s Go-To Stop for EV Charging

It was cold and a bit rainy—and certainly not summertime—so the entire park was empty. I found the charger, plugged in the EQB—and got nothing but an error message. The charger didn’t work.

2023 mercedes eqb charging in northern michigan
Thank you, Bay City Meijer, for the functioning chargers, which remind drivers to be courteous.Tom Murphy

It’s OK, there are other chargers in Bay City, just a few miles away at Meijer, which is Michigan’s big box answer to Walmart. You can buy everything here at what used to be called “Meijer thrifty acres,” from dog food and avocadoes to car batteries and window blinds. And now all across Michigan, Meijer has become the go-to place for EV charging.

The map told me the Bay City Meijer, located just off I-75, had 14 chargers, including eight Tesla superchargers and four Electrify America DC fast chargers (350 kW).

Once I figured out the touchscreen and linked it with my phone, we were charging. With time to kill, we walked across the parking lot—in freezing rain—to stroll the thrifty acres. It was better than sitting in the cold car for 45 minutes.

graphical user interface, application
Impressive 4.1 miles per kWh achieved in the 2023 Mercedes EQB.Tom Murphy

We were thankful this session achieved 99% state of charge, having been limited to 80% in previous EV charging situations. For 223 miles of range, we paid $0.48 per kWh, which totaled $21.59, which is less expensive than filling up a similar-sized Mercedes with premium gasoline.

Petoskey, a Great Place to Fast Charge

This first charging experience, despite the weather, was a success, and we clearly would have enough juice to reach our destination 168 miles to the north before having to charge up again.

Our next two charging experiences were positively delightful, at an EZ Mart gas station/convenience store in Petoskey, Michigan, with two ChargePoint DC fast chargers capable of 125 kW.

2023 mercedes eqb charging in northern michigan
EQB gathers electrons at Petoskey EZ Mart fast charger.Tom Murphy

While charging, we could walk two minutes to a strip mall with a bagel shop, grocery store, several restaurants, a pharmacy, laundromat, bike store, and even a Secretary of State office.

These are the kind of options people need to envision a battery-electric vehicle fitting into their daily lives. Better yet, this EZ Mart was a short walk in the other direction to the beach of Little Traverse Bay, which is lovely any time of year.

The first time we charged at the Petoskey EZ Mart, it cost $0.30 per kWh ($16.58 total) to reach 100% state of charge, having added 182 miles of range. The second time, it charged to 81%, added 87 miles of range at a cost of $8.20 (again, at $0.30 per kWh), and it took 32 minutes.

Yes, You Can Charge in Rural Central Michigan

At this point, we were ready to start our journey home, and the EQB was achieving an impressive 4.1 miles per kWh while 84% of the energy was devoted to driving.

We headed south with about 200 miles of range, which meant we’d have to stop once before reaching home in metro Detroit.

The easy choice would be to revisit the Bay City Meijer, but I was determined to find other charging options in the rural center of lower Michigan.

On the PlugShare phone app, we found the Dean Arbour Ford dealership in West Branch, right off I-75, where they have two 175-kW DC fast chargers.

2023 mercedes eqb charging at dean arbour ford dealership in west branch michigan
CHAdeMO and CCS chargers at Dean Arbour Ford dealership in West Branch.Tom Murphy

While it took 30 minutes for the battery to top off at a reported 235 miles of range, I talked at length with the dealership’s sale manager about the difficulties encountered as this small business tried to embrace the electric age.

Sustaining the Great American Road Trip in the EV Age

From there, it was a straight shot home, down I-75 for 175 miles and we had plenty of range as we pulled into our driveway.

This was a positive learning experience. During the four charging stops, we saw maybe three other EV drivers looking for a port. That was good news for us, as we didn’t have to wait in line, nor did the other drivers.

But it also calls into question the business case for these forward-looking companies that might never recoup their investments unless more people start using their stations.

It all hinges on the EV market demonstrating steady growth, and that only happens if the legacy automakers investing billions in transitioning to all-electric vehicles—as well as companies building charging stations—can deliver good products at lower prices, while seeing a return on their money.

The market for battery-electric vehicles must be large enough to sustain more than just Tesla.

the track club
Hearst Owned

Is it realistic to think there are lots of consumers who want to buy an EV, but not from Tesla?

There’s an entire industry counting on them to—and counting on them to keep alive the great American road trip in the electric age.

I look forward to the next one.

Have you taken an EV road trip, or routinely drive long distances in an EV? Please comment below.