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Lance Pickup

1800+ mile road trip from NC to northern NY, western NY and back with VW ID.4

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Just returned from an 1800+ mile road trip from North Carolina, to Maryland, northern New York, western New York, and back to North Carolina in our VW ID.4 (we needed a bit more of a challenge than the Tesla would offer!)

My process was to do my preliminary planning using ABRP as one large trip, modeling stopovers where I knew I would have 120V charging available.  I threw in a couple of side trips in NY as well. 

The Electrify America network is in the process of being built out here.  It's not bad, but it's not the Supercharger network either, and there are some notable holes.  In particular I-81 through Pennsylvania between Harrisburg, PA and Binghamton, NY is particularly challenging.  In fact, as for CCS chargers, there is really nothing along that route from Harrisburg all the way to Syracuse, NY.  The gap from the Carlisle, PA station to an EVolveNY station at a thruway stop in Syracuse is 276 miles!  There is a sometimes-working 40kW station at the NY State welcome area, but hard to count on that.  To be fair, even the Supercharger network is weak along that route, but at least there is a site near Scranton, PA.

 So using ABRP I plotted two possible diversions:  Bloomsburg, PA and Allentown, PA, that added about an hour to the trip.  I researched all the potential stops on Plugshare and developed a confidence and convenience chart for each stop.  Before committing to taking the ID.4 I wanted to make sure we had a good chance of success, and that amenities would be available for the somewhat longer charging times that I've been accustomed to with the Tesla.  In the end I chose the Bloomsburg route and we decided to take the ID.4.

The day before we left, I learned that I could use my old OBD2 dongle in the ID.4 with the EVNotify app and it would integrate with ABRP.  This turned out to be a major game changer!  On a previous (shorter) trip I had manually been updating the SOC while en route, but this was incredibly unwieldy and didn't work well in marginal signal areas.  I was pleased that I was able to get it to work (it was a bit tricky to get EVNotify to stay up in the background, but I eventually got it).  The integration worked better than I had expected.  Very nicely done.  I can now get a Tesla-style live energy graph while en route, updated arrival SOC info, and calibrated consumption data, which is great because we actually did much better in the ID.4 than the default ABRP efficiency.

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We did run into a few glitches at charging stations in PA.  At the Blomsburg charging station in particular, one of the 4 stalls was taped off, and the only other open station when we arrived was charging very slow.  When another stall opened up, we attempted to move to it, but EA got confused or something and we weren't able to initiate a new session.  Even customer service was having difficulty, although eventually we got it started.  It should have been a 35-40 minute stop, but it wound up taking 96 minutes.  And we needed every last electron to make it all the way to Syracuse!

In Syracuse, a new EA site opened up the day before we left on the trip...chargers were working, but the site was not yet on the app.  So we had to enlist customer support again to initiate our charge.  And they were quite confused about this site as well.  Again, it should have been a 35 minute stop, but it wound up taking 55 minutes altogether (nothing happens fast when you have to call up customer service!)

The other glitch we ran into was also in PA on the return leg.  Ironically it was at a charging station I rated the highest in terms of confidence and convenience.

To start with, this was a 4-stall site at a busy interchange along the PA Turnpike.  About an hour out, I noticed that all stalls were listed as being in use.  I figured (hoped) it would be a temporary surge that would be cleared out by the time we arrived.  Nope.  All 4 were in use when we arrived and there were two others ahead of us queuing for a stall.  So we wound up having to wait around to plug in, and when we finally did the charging station we were on was not able to deliver a consistent charge (kept dropping down to about 33kW).  The stall next to us opened up, but it was not showing as available on the app (we needed to use the app versus using a credit card because we get free charging at EA).  We fiddled with the charger over and over, and finally another stall opened up so we decided to move over to it.  However, as soon as we unplugged the car and started to move out, a Bolt pulls up and wants to park in that stall.  I explain the situation to them, and ask if they can use either the stall we just disconnected from or the other one that wasn't showing in the app (but was working), but they absolutely INSISTED that their Bolt could charge at 350kW.  Try as I might, I was not able to get them to move, but meanwhile the last stall had opened up, so we moved to that one, and were finally able to get a consistent high speed charge from it.  Another 90 minute stop that should have been more like 35-40.

The rest of the trip was relatively uneventful, but we found that we needed to be very specific with the order and timing of plugging in the car, pushing buttons on the screen and the app, etc. and if anything wasn't done perfectly, something would time out and we would have to reset the car and the charger and the app and start all over.  We think we figured out exactly how to do it, but it continues to be very frustrating that it doesn't just work.

The ABRP app itself worked great (especially once I got EVNotify to run in the background), but I didn't want to keep my phone on the entire trip, so I would occasionally put it in my pocket.  I found that about half the time I got it back out, ABRP would come up in the proper state and be tracking normally, but the other half of the time it would be "stuck" and either have outdated data, or not be updating.  I do wish it could recover more reliably.  I usually hit the "Replan" button, but I feel that I had to select "My Position" as the starting location all the time.  This was a bit frustrating as on a few legs I had intentionally selected a different route/option to force a specific set of stops.  I get that "Replan" is a hard "re-plan", but all I really needed was for the app to "reset" its data and re-read my position and SOC state.

I also noticed that in areas with a weak signal that the app would pretty much hang.  After doing a "Replan" or even a new route, the app would just spin, and I found I had to kill the app completely to just start over, even when the signal came back.  Is there a timeout of some kind?  Or is there a way I could "break" it so I could try again when I had a good signal and not have to start all over?

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Hi @Lance Pickup,

Thank you for providing such a detailed account of your trip 🙂

What version of the app are you running? We recently increased the frequency of updates in navigation mode. This means that the route will be recalculated more often to account for any changes in the world.

The data connection from EVNotify to ABRP relies on an internet connection. So if the connection is bad, the updates may appear less often and cause issues with the updates in the app. Please note that we're continuously working to improve the performance and stability of the app.

/Sofia

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Hard to say...I recently joined the beta so I could try out the AA interface, so I just re-installed the app anyway.

I should note that while in metro areas we get pretty good cell reception, along the highways that we travel we sometimes get little to no signal, so having the app stack (from EVNotify to ABRP) be somewhat resilient to little to no signal is helpful.

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