Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, Palm Springs, Las Vegas and maybe a detour to Lake Tahoe or to the Bay Area with the metropolis of San Francisco – many people get excited when planning their vacation. On a tour like this, you can’t avoid renting a car, and they’re usually much cheaper in the USA than in Europe. More and more companies are also offering electric cars and more and more tourists are considering experiencing such a road trip with a plug-in vehicle.

If there is one region in the world that is known to be an eco-state and to rely on electric vehicles, then it is the US state of California. For many, with the wide spectrum of sea, mountains, people and metropolises, a holiday region that can be perfectly explored by car. The infrastructure is now such that there is no need to worry about a sufficient number of charging stations. Electrify America’s charging network in particular is both wide and fast at gas stations, shopping malls and the major interstates. It looks best with the number of charging stations in the greater Los Angeles area. The metropolis of four million, which can hardly be recognized as a separate city but has spread far inland as an agglomeration of eight million, offers a large number of charging stations. There are a large number of charging stations from a wide variety of providers, especially in large supermarkets, outlets and shopping centers. Many are from Electrify America and these cost $0.48 per kilowatt-hour of electricity on the Hyperchargers in most cases. Before you leave, you don’t have to worry about a charging card and you can safely leave the chip card for your electric car at home. There is also no need to download special apps during a stay. Unlike in Europe, you can easily pay by credit card at all charging stations.

During the test on the first example in Huntington Beach, the charging stop succeeds without any problems. At a small shopping center, four charging stations are signposted much better than most in Germany. Two offer 150 kW, the other two 350 kW – more than enough for the VW ID4, which is well motorized with its 220 kW / 299 hp all-wheel drive. Unfortunately, there is still a problem with the charging speed, because while the European ID versions have recently increased their charging speed to 170 kilowatts, the models produced by Chattanooga have not yet done so. The digital display on the central display shows 126 kilowatts, as does the display device on the charging station. After two nights in Huntington Beach and a short detour south, the Wolfsburg-based company’s only electric model currently manufactured in the USA is off to the warmer desert. Just before Palm Springs, there are a number of charging options just off Interstate 10 in the Desert Hills Outlet parking lot. In addition to the Tesla Superchargers, which are usually not open to third-party brands in the USA, there are other charging stations at the neighboring Morongo Casino and at the outlet. Even on Friday afternoon, the charging situation is relaxed and the gray VW ID4 pumps itself up with energy, while the charging stop can be shortened with a short shopping trip. But the more than 180 shops are so extensive and numerous that after half an hour you have to unplug your vehicle to avoid risking fines. The American understood better than the Europeans how to set up charging points in the parking lots of the shopping centers. Because the battery is still more than 60 percent full, the ID4 pumps itself up with around 100, 80 and later only 55 kilowatts.

You could have saved yourself recharging for 0.42 US dollars per kilowatt hour, because the hotel in Palm Springs offers its guests a pleasant service. The overnight price includes free recharging on one of the two 10 kW chargers. “More and more people are coming with an electric car; That’s why we’re considering installing two more charging points,” says hotel operator Rita. The day after next we go to Las Vegas, but not via the interstate route via San Bernadino and Barstow, but past Joshua Tree National Park, Twenty Nine Palms and via the old Route 66. Here the charging points are scarce, but in Goffs and in the vicinity of Needles, the navigation device shows the same along with occupancy. It starts early in the morning and once again you appreciate the excellent LED headlights of the ID4 in the gloomy darkness and the comfortable seats with massage function are a blessing on the long tours. This only applies to a limited extent to the plastic charm of the electric crossover inside, because despite the chic decorative seams and the central 12-inch screen, an ambience dominates here that is at best known from loveless US interiors. The navigation and controls are excellent; the only thing missing is the head-up display, which the driver would have liked to use instead of the blue LED bars when turning.

The charging stop on Historic Route 66 near Goffs is more of a drink stop because, contrary to expectations, the mountain ranges of Eastern California and Nevada hardly bother the VW ID4 with its 82 kWh battery pack, despite the brisk driving speed. The all-wheel drive vehicle from Chattanooga would have made it to Las Vegas without a loading stop. The short opportunity charging in the desert shows a common criticism of the nationwide charging network operator Electrify America – a large number of charging stations are defective and the same is true at the gas station in California’s no man’s land. The two 350 kW chargers don’t want to, so the electric vehicle gets its power from the neighboring 150 kW plug. As time goes on, it gets warmer and warmer – until the 100-degree Fahrenheit mark is cracked near Henderson and you want air-conditioned seats. The oversized panoramic roof has long since been shaded by the electric blinds, so it stays pleasantly cool inside.

When recharging in Las Vegas the next day, another problem at many US charging points became apparent. During the week most Americans charge up in their garages at home, but on the weekends they drive to shopping, dinner and entertainment. As a result, long queues form in front of the charging stations at the large shopping centers – and not just at the Tesla Superchargers. The situation is very similar at the large hotels, which have hardly adapted to electric cars in the gambling metropolis. On weekends you should therefore be prepared for waiting times during the day. Also because many electric cars include two to three years of free charging for at least 30 minutes per session in the purchase price or the monthly leasing fee.

On the way back towards Los Angeles and the Pacific coast, there are several fast charging stations on Interstate 15. It can be loaded particularly quickly and cheaply in Baker, right next to the largest thermometer in the world. With EV-Go, it’s cheaper in the morning hours and when needed, the battery pack is boosted for just $0.31 per kilowatt hour. A good hour later, the Walmart in the former railway metropolis of Barstow offers another fast-charging stop. Two of the only four charging stations are hooked up here again and so the VW ID4 draws 80 percent of the battery full before the charging speed drops to below 50 kW and it continues to Los Angeles. Once you have arrived in the San Bernardino Valley, you don’t have to worry about the charging situation – the slow columns run at 50 kW, most with 350 kW – there are even turbochargers like the Audi Etron GT or a Porsche Taycan right next door in Malibu, Santa Monica or Beverly Hills at their own expense.

Driving through the western United States in an electric car – it’s easy and better than expected, especially in remote regions. There is no need to worry about the general infrastructure; even if the pressure on the charging stations increases at peak times. This can usually only be felt on weekends and in the shopping centers. The entire charging handling in the USA with contactless payment by credit card is exemplary and, just like with liquid fuel, the charging current is also significantly cheaper than in Europe. Where can it be charged between 0.31 and 0.48 US dollars per kilowatt hour without an existing contract? The VW ID4 AWD was more than convincing as a motorhome for the road trip. It didn’t even consume the equivalent of 18 kWh over 100 kilometers and with a fully charged battery pack easily achieves 270 miles (430 kilometers) or more – even when driving uphill and downhill, in both hot and cool temperatures. What is not convincing is the automated driving, because after just a few seconds, the crossover forces you to make slight steering corrections, since touching the leatherette steering wheel is not enough.

If you don’t want an old US classic from Rent a Wreck like a Cadillac Eldorado or a Ford Thunderbird of the past for your next road trip, then you’re welcome to an electric VW ID4. It starts in the USA with the small 62 kWh battery pack and rear-wheel drive at just under $39,000. It is better to opt for the almost 300 hp all-wheel drive version in the Pro-S variant with the large battery for just under 53,000 US dollars. Since the USA makes no difference to Europe – there should be no way around the large battery pack and the all-wheel drive.