Trip to Frankfort with the Lightning

3 minute read


Great test run with the Airstream cut short by a sick kiddo. Stats and thoughts are below!

  • Solid headwinds and gradual climb = 1mi/kWh on the way there
  • Downhill with light winds and modified driving habits = 1.4mi/kWh
  • Charging networks were more than sufficient to get us there and back.
  • The chargers were positioned so that the truck and trailer could fit.
  • The winds were so destructive in Cadillac that a buggy took off in the Meijers parking lot and rammed the back of the Airstream…grumble grumble
  • Ford PR reached out to try and repair our failed navigation system, but alas, nothing. We had to rely solely on Google Maps through Android Auto.
  • The Pro Trailer system randomly forgot the Airstream after calibrating a few weeks ago and then randomly remembered it when we got home. Fun.
  • BlueCruise worked with the trailer connected, which seems odd. It was helpful but made me nervous, given the ping-pong between lanes that BlueCruise does. I found myself turning off cruise control to avoid it engaging.

Ready to go         Ready to go 2        

Pregaming with the Airstream & Lightning

Our first long trip with the Airstream and Lightning begins! Given our experience driving the empty truck to Mackinac Island, we modified our planning and assumptions:

  1. Assume a 90-mile range on the truck
  2. Find nearest 60kw+ chargers on PlugShare
  3. Assume that you can skip one if the charging station is broken or not functioning
  4. Look at photos posted by users on PlugShare
  5. Go to Google Maps and see if satellite view provides any indication of issues
  6. Add to PlugShare trip and do it all again for the next one


We added one additional stop to meet our Solar and Battery installer, CBS Solar. They have a Tesla Destination Charger that we can top off before arriving at the campground. We have met many of their installers through our installation but never met in person, so this serves two purposes.

The trip statistics on the way there are pretty standard for Michigan as we head up and back down to the coastline. This means we will be towing against a slow, steady climb. We can consider this the worse part of the trip than the last, where we are purely on the downhill.

  • 3 Charging Stops with an additional hour of travel time
  • Total Distance: 249km (155 mi) - About 2 hours 51 mins
  • Total Time Including Waiting: About 3 hours 51 mins
  • The altitude hits a peak of 455 meters (1453 feet)
  • Altitude: ⬆️ 587m (1,926 ft) and ⬇️ 554m (1,818 ft)

Google Map Altitude

The Actuals

We ended up 1.0mi/kWh on the way there doing the speed limit and mostly on back roads. The headwind was pretty incredible and probably the worst-case scenario. Given the Airstreams shape and weight distribution, I am guessing for a trailer of this size; this is your best-case scenario with a strong headwind, hill climb, and the Lightning.

Due to the kiddo being sick, we skipped our CBS Solar stop and went straight to the camping site. We ended up with 100 miles left on the tank when we pulled in.

On the way back, I continued to follow backroads and speed limits. I began to understand better the brake capture and how to utilise it to limit battery impact. I was surprised to see my 1.0mi figure climb to 1.4 (and 1.5 for some portions of the road trip) throughout the return journey.


It’s electric…

One of the most fantastic things about the truck practically for us, is it charges at the campsite. Any site with full hook-ups will likely have a 100amp pedestal (20+30+50 connections), so we were more than able to power the Airstream as well as the charging of the truck.

Even at rustic sites with just a 20amp (or hopefully a 30), we can power the Airstream and truck. We modified our A/C on the Airstream to be able to use the basic 20amp service to turn on.

This is a game-changer for us because many campsites in northern Michigan are at the edges of current charging networks. In essence, it gives us a connection in an area that otherwise would not have one.


Charging Stations

After a ton of research, we could have some comfort we could charge without disconnecting the trailer. It is doable, but you must be patient as some will be blocked.

Amish Country in Clare Cadillac Crystal Mountain Home Charging