HomeLifestyle2023 Hummer EV Road Trip: Trials And Travails In Traverse City Michigan

2023 Hummer EV Road Trip: Trials And Travails In Traverse City Michigan

I had the chance to take the Hummer EV on a road trip from Detroit MI to Traverse City MI, a round trip of about 500 miles. My friends and I battled blizzards, conquered trails, and sipped wine in the countryside… but the real challenge was finding the power that made it all possible.

First, a quick word about the vehicle. The Hummer EV is about as rock-solid an all-electric vehicle as you can find on the market today. It can cover over 320 miles on a single charge, has all of the utility of a pickup, and all of the styling of a Hummer. The interior cab is spacious and comfortable, even in the back seats. We didn’t even need to use the covered bed or front trunk to seat and stow the gear of three people.

The pick-up on the Hummer EV is what you would expect and more; the windshield has reasonably good field of view for the signature narrow Hummer dimensions, the camera suite is fantastic and offers under-carriage views second to none when off-roading, and the center console is sleek and modern. There are many other off-road features you can read about here (2023 Hummer EV Review), but as a TL;DR, the Hummer EV is a remarkable, rugged EV with a lot to recommend it.

Now on to Traverse City itself. On paper, it might be one of the most EV-friendly cities in Northern Michigan, serviced primarily by Blink Charging, with four multi-station locations in a city of under 16,000. There were also several stops along 1-75, the main artery of north-south travel in Michigan, where we planned to stop and charge along the way.

Traverse City has a charming downtown, in the heart of wine-country, and with a long narrow bay feeding out into Lake Michigan. Sandy beaches, forest trails, and fine dining all rolled into one compact and affordable package. There is so much to see and do, and sadly, so much of what we planned had to be cut short, but we’ll get to that in a moment. We set out mid-afternoon with high hopes, and even excitement to test the Hummer EV against the incoming snow storm over the next few days.

We were prepared for the cold, and the snow, and the rough-and-tumble trails, but what we were not prepared for was the disappointing charging infrastructure that ended up over-costing the budget and cut deep into our scheduled events. As the temperature dropped, we realized the Cadillac MI Meijer, where we planned to make our first stop to charge, was quickly being squeezed out of reach by the battery range loss from the cold. No big deal, there was a ‘Plan B’ stop we had calculated in Bay City, also in a Meijer but far closer. Both stations were operated by ‘Electrify America’, and both were pretty newly opened, so surely they were comparable?

Wrong. When we arrived at the Bay City location, there were four ports and one was being used. Thankfully, by the time we realized the other three were non-operational, the person using the fourth was ready to depart, and commiserated that it was difficult to maintain an EV under these conditions. To reiterate; 75% of the chargers at a brand-new location were out of service. The rate of charge from this remaining pump was also lower than advertised, and even though we decided to take over an hour to meander through the Meijer and buy our groceries early while we waited, by the time we got back it had only filled up to make it to Cadillac MI, not all the way to Traverse City.

Thankfully, the charger worked faster in Cadillac, but still took almost 40 min to fill from 25% to 75%. We arrived in Traverse City later than planned, checked into the hotel, and went to find a place to at least charge to full while we tried to make up for lost time that evening. That’s when we discovered the worst news of the whole trip; Blink Charging, which has a near-monopoly on non-Tesla EV charge stations in Traverse City (which were not compatible with our Hummer EV) had a city-wide shut-down of all but their slowest charging stations. When we called for an explanation, the customer service agent was discourteous and unhelpful, providing no explanation for why there were outages, nor any assurances that efforts were underway to fix them, let alone an estimated timeline on when service would return.

Unless we left the vehicle overnight and paid a fortune, no meaningful amount of charge would be had. This was the point where we had to spend precious time cutting out many of the fun activities we’d planned; no drive up the peninsula, no lighthouse photoshoot, no Jolly Pumpkin pizza. Effectively a whole day’s worth of stuff gutted to make room for charging the EV, or saving the charge we did have to get back home on time.

We still had fun, explored a more conservative portion of the many trails, still enjoyed a wine tasting, the downtown, and even tried a new pizza place none of us had gone to before, but it left a bit of a bittersweet taste in the mouth to know there was more we wanted to do, and were being held back from doing because we took an EV instead of a combustion engine. Hopefully, engineers and scientists continue to find ways to make batteries last longer, charge faster, and hold more charge. Hopefully, politicians and businesses continue to innovate and find ways to make the infrastructure better and more available and reliable. But until then, despite all of the benefits of an EV, I think I’ll stick to gasoline for my road trips, especially in the Midwest.

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