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New Study: Can EVs Compete with Gas Cars Traveling Iconic American Road Trips

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SEE ALSO: "Great Drives" For Auto Channel Motorists - Spoiler Alert; If You Don't Like Driving Buh-Bye

AUSTIN, Texas, April 24, 2023 -- The latest study by Upgraded Points sets gas cars against electric vehicles to see which vehicle is truly the most economical on five American road trips. Examining the time and fuel costs along iconic trails like Route 66 and California 1, the study offered a variety of insights while investigating the central question: Is saving money on gas really worth the tradeoff in travel time?

The study determined that for every 100 miles driven along these popular routes, an EV owner will save $11 but will add 25 minutes, on average. An EV trip increased travel time by over 13 hours on one route, but less than 2 hours on another.

Road Trip Study: Methodology

The study focused on five recognizable U.S. road trips of varying lengths. The routes were mapped out using Google Maps to provide exact mileage counts and travel times. To avoid traffic issues, road closures, and last-minute delays, the travel date was set for a specific weekend in April.

The costs of fuel for both gas and EVs were based on average gas/electric prices from states along each route. Estimates of fueling and charging times were sourced from the Department of Transportation and the American Petroleum Institute. Finally, the study evaluated the best states for EV charging access, using data sourced from the U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels Data and Electrek.

Five U.S. Road Trip Routes Traveled In an EV vs Gas Car:

Pacific Coast Highway: Following the California coastline starting from Dana Point and ending in San Francisco, this 523-mile journey takes 11 hours and 37 minutes in a gas car. In an EV, you would save about $65.79 but the trip would take you 2 hours and 8 minutes longer.

The Longest American Road Trip: Beginning in Boston and ending in Newport, Oregon, Route 20 spans over 3,000 miles and multiple states. EV trips will save travelers over $350 in gas, but that is easily surpassed by the time lost—an EV trip would take a whopping 13 hours and 28 minutes longer. On this trip, fuel/charging times were also substantial, with EVs taking nearly 14 hours to charge, compared to less than 20 minutes filling up gas.

Route 66, The Mother Road: Following Highway 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica, California, the Route 66 trip would take just over 51 hours by EV, but saves drivers over $250. Gas vehicles need 7 pitstops for this journey, while EVs are looking at more than 10. Driving an electric vehicle would save about $258, but the trip would take you 10 hours longer.

The Blue Ridge Parkway: From Cherokee, North Carolina to Afton, Virginia, this journey is 470 miles of scenic beauty. Driving an EV down this route would save you about $50, but would add nearly 2 additional hours to your journey.

The Florida Coast: Following the Florida coast from Jacksonville to Key West, Route 1 visits all the major beach towns including Daytona, West Palm Beach, Miami, and more. The EV trip saves drivers over $50 in gas but adds over 2 hours to the drive.

A gas vehicle requires a 2-minute and 53-second pit stop for fuel while you’d need to commit to 2 hours and 6 minutes for charging an EV.

Electrical Vehicle Usage by State

Having access to a charging station is key to a successful electric vehicle road trip if you intend to take one. The last thing you’d want is to end up stranded somewhere. Broken charging stations or lack thereof can throw a snag in your road trip fun.

EVSE Ports are the ports that provide power and charge 1 EV at a time. There are typically several ports per EV charging station and they can be found at grocery stores, gas stations, hotels, etc. all across the U.S. map, but are an important consideration if you’re planning an electric car road trip.

Most newer EVs can travel 250 miles on a single charge while some Tesla models can drive 350 miles. Those who own an EV need to plan ahead of time and ensure they can find charging stations along their route.

Some states are taking the initiative when it comes to EV-friendliness. California, for example, is going so far as to ban the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2035, catering to consumers who prefer EVs. When it comes to EV registrations per 1,000 drivers states like California (20.85 EVs), Hawaii (15.43), Washington (11.49), Oregon (10.29), and Colorado (8.61) stand out from the rest.

While certain states are familiar with waiting hours to fill up their tank at a busy gas station, other states are creating better EV-to-port ratios so EV owners can charge their cars and be on their merry way.

States with the fewest electric vehicles per charging port include places like North Dakota (2.29), Wyoming (2.52), West Virginia (2.89), Maine (3.68), and Rhode Island (3.80). In other words, these are the states where EV owners would have the easiest time finding a port to use at chargings station.

There’s nothing worse than watching your fuel light flicker on with no gas station in view. To prevent electric vehicle owners from succumbing to the same fate, certain states are making sure to strategically have an abundance of ports within a short distance of one another.

States like Washington, D.C. (4.16 road miles per port), California (10.49 road miles per port), Hawaii (11.56 road miles per port), and Massachusetts (14.34 road miles per port) all have a short distance to travel to find their next charging station.


To map out some iconic American road trips, as traveled by an electric vehicle, we started with 5 of the most recognizable U.S. road trips that vary in length to show how different the voyages would look in an EV compared to a gas vehicle.

First, we mapped out the 5 road trips using Google Maps to get as exact of a mile count and travel time estimation as possible. To avoid up-to-the-minute traffic delays and road closures, we set the travel date for a weekend in April for all road trips. This method also allowed us to ensure we were staying on the same road throughout the voyage. Once that data was collected, we were able to determine the cost of fueling the trip in both gas and electric vehicles based on average gas prices and electricity costs from states along each route.

Using time estimations from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the American Petroleum Institute, we calculated how long people would spend fueling up their vehicles on these trips. Finally, we compared the 2 methods and figured out the cost and time differences between EVs and gas cars as they relate to iconic American road trips.

To add an additional layer to this study, we used data from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center and Electrek to find the states with the best access to EV charging locations by comparing EV ownership to charging ports in each state and charging ports to total roadway miles. These figures show us EV access to public charging and public charging density in each state.

Final Thoughts

No matter the length of your road trip — whether it’s 500 or 5,000 miles — it’s clear that an EV is going to save you money while adding some extra time to your road trip. Since road trips are meant to be enjoyed, you can always plan ahead and find places to visit or things to enjoy while your car charges. For more classic road trips, check out our list of the 10 best road trips in the U.S. and start packing!

EV Usage and Charging Density, State by State

Access to charging stations is the key to a smooth and successful EV road trip. Located at grocery stores, gas stations, hotels, and other convenient locations, EVSE Ports provide power and charge with several ports per EV charging station. Access to these charging stations varies by state, with Washington D.C. coming out on top with 4 road miles per EV charging port. California offers 1 EVSE port per 10 road miles, followed by Hawaii and Massachusetts.

Below are the findings in detail, including exact percentages, charging station densities, money saved on trips, along with rankings by each U.S. state and other specifics, please visit the full study HERE.

About Upgraded Points LLC

Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Upgraded Points is a travel company that helps to demystify the complex world of travel and credit cards, and to unlock truly unforgettable experiences. Launched in 2016 by Alex Miller, Upgraded Points uses targeted research efforts and in-depth studies to give travelers, as well as those looking to travel, a real understanding of how to maximize their travel, points, and miles. Learn more at: