Coast-to-Coast SOLO in the All-Electric Hyundai Ioniq 5: A Sonic Road Trip Extravaganza

Images: TFLcar

There’s no way to sugarcoat it: driving cross-country solo is a pain, but in the Hyundai Ioniq 5, it was better than I expected.

After completing the O-2-O (Orange County, CA to Orange County, FL) cannonball-style journey, I was left alone with the 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 to drive back to SoCal. Roman and our videographer Cole had to get back to the office ASAP, but I had nothing on my schedule. So, rather than spend a few thousand to ship the car back to California, I opted to drive it back myself.

EV Cannonball - O2O finish line
Roman and I finished the trip, and were desperately tired. We only had a few house of sleep, and I needed to get a comfy bed and hot shower for the night. My first stop was Jacksonville, Florida. I like that area, and wanted to see the Atlantic ocean.

Unlike our 46-hour run, which was grueling and required three drivers – I figured it would take six to eight days to make the journey comfortably. Remember: this is an electric vehicle, thus long distance driving (usually) takes much longer than a gas vehicle. If I drove 350 – 450 miles per day, I could easily knock out a 2,500 mile trip solo, in a week.

Hyundai Ioniq 5 - O2O update 1

Or so I thought…

As you’ll see in our video coverage, traveling at optimum speeds, conserving energy, and arriving at EV chargers that work is a big deal. The Hyundai Ioniq 5 performed flawlessly, and it was a pleasure to drive. The Bose Premium Audio System was constantly maxed out, and with the lack of powertrain noise, I was in audio bliss. Unfortunately, the infrastructure in various places made my blissful ride – less.

My initial plan was altered, and I had to deal with several locations that forced me to use Level 2 chargers just to make it to a fast charger. This was especially true in Florida, where I spent an extra day after encountering two problems: dead chargers and chargers I wasn’t permitted to use.

Yea, that BMW isn’t an EV. The struggle is real.

Over 90-percent of our charging was done with Electrify America’s fast chargers. They were fairly easy to find along highway 10, but not all of them worked. I encountered this problem near Jacksonville, FL where there was a line for the one working charger. I opted to find another charger.

That didn’t go well.

There was no way to use these FLP chargers in Florida – on a Sunday. Creating a legal account cannot be done if you live out of state. I had to find a Charge Point Level II charger, just to limp to another Level II – which eventually led me to another fast charger. It killed the day.

My carefully planned out trip was already screwed up. I blew an entire day crawling to a useable fast charger. From there, I had other struggles, but the worst happened about four days later. Sure, it sucked having people in gas cars parked in the good slots at the charging station. Sometimes, I had to fight the charging hose to stretch it over to the rear passenger side of the Ioniq 5. Actually, other than a lack of a rear windshield wiper, that’s my biggest gripe. The charger port location.

Mobile, Alabama in the Ioniq 5.

Along the way, I pulled into a little gem I never visited before: Mobile, Alabama. What a nice town, and the food was outstanding. So were the friendly people. On top of that, unlike many of the other hotels that had Tesla or poorly working Level II chargers, the one at the Mobile, AL hotel (Charge Point) worked great!

Anyway, before I bore you with my worst day, here’s my final day to day driving details:

  • Jacksonville FL to Tallahassee, FL
  • Tallahassee, FL to Mobile, AL
  • Mobile, AL to New Orleans, LA
  • New Orleans, LA to Katy, TX
  • Katy, TX to Fort Stockton, TX
  • Fort Stockton, TX to Maricopa, AZ
  • Maricopa, AZ to El Cajon, CA
  • El Cajon to Agoura, CA

While I was plowing through Texas (which is over 800 miles wide) I had to stop in Junction, TX. It’s a small town, with a motel that’s next to four chargers. Not a SINGLE CHARGER WAS WORKING. My biggest problem is that I was down to about 14 miles of range, and the closest Level II charger was over 56 miles away. As I panicked, looking for anything closer (and considering asking the motel to allow me to plug in to their 120) another EV arrived. A nice couple in an EV6 pulled up, and wasted no time calling Electrify America.

About a half an hour later, one charger came to life. I let the family charge, then I powered up. Like some other chargers, it ran low – about 35 – 60 kW being delivered. The whole escapade killed a few hours.

Yep, that’s me in the reflection. I just HAD to shoot this marvel. We need thousands of stations like this – nationwide. They need to be as easy to use as a gas pump, and they need to be reliable. Fortunately, it looks like things are improving every year.

Finally, after over a week, I arrived in Southern California. Oddly, I encountered plenty of charger issues in California. Hell, I thought they would have the an exemplary charger network. Nope! Many were in poor condition, not working, or working slowly. On the other hand, I found charging Nirvana in SoCal as well. There was one of the largest working charge stations near Pasadena, CA.

I estimated that each day required at least three stops – which averaged about 20 minutes.

When all was said and done, the sweet little Ioniq 5 finished its 5,884 round trip from coast to coast, along with plenty of mini excursions along the way. On top of that, this EV was driven from L.A. to Colorado, where we tested it. Then, it was driven back to Anaheim, CA for the beginning of the O-2-O run. That means there’s at least 2,000 miles of additional driving done. It could probably use a tire rotation, and a top off of washer fluid.

Yup, that’s all it needs.

I’m not writing this as an advocate for EVs. The truth is, though, that you can drive cross-country in an electric vehicle. Doing it solo was a cathartic experience for me, and most of it was easy going. I didn’t mind the stops either. It was about a two hour average between stops, which isn’t too bad.

Charger wish list

If any charging companies, OEMs or the good folks at the state or federal level read this – please think about this: we’ve got a ways to go. Look, no one is thinking about charging stations like gas stations. As such, we don’t have small things that would help an EV owner.

How about a way to wipe/clean their windshield? Bathrooms? Vending machines? How about a vending machine that squirts out caviar for Lucid and Tesla owners?

Seriously, why not give EV chargers a friggin’ roof so folks don’t have to hide in their cars when there’s inclement weather? It’s no fun handling a somewhat stiff electric hose in a rain storm. I think we’re at a point where enough EV drivers are out there where we need to think about accommodating them.