Author: Isabelle Desmet
The first question many people ask when you say you drive an EV often is: 'What if you want to drive long distances to go on holiday?'. Fair question! To know the answer, we interviewed 2 wolves to hear about their experience on traveling with their Volkswagen ID.3 company car over the summer.
Curious to find out how Amélie & Bieke managed to drive to Austria & the South of France? Then continue the read!
How many km did you drive & how many stops?
Bieke: We drove 1000 km with a total of 3 stops of 40 minutes. My dad was driving the same route with a Diesel car, and we ended up only arriving 45 min later, however we were completely relaxed and had enjoyed the 3 longer breaks!
Amélie: We drove 1100 km to get there with 4 stops of 30 minutes.
What were you most worried about beforehand?
Amélie: As we were planning to hike in the mountains, we were worried about how the battery would react when driving up the mountains. Chargers are also less available in the mountains than on the highway, so initially we weren’t going to use the ID.3. We did some research and as chargers are still well present, we took the shot and planned our trip in detail. In the end, consumption of driving in the mountains is very similar to the consumption driving on the highway at a speed of 125 km/h.
Bieke: I was mostly concerned about whether the charging card would work at every charging station outside of Belgium. I was imaging that we would easily find stations, but then not be able to actually charge. When we started planning the trip and googled about charging in France, my mind was put at ease as many stations work with an app where you can add your credit card information and start a charging session.
How did you plan the trip?
Amélie: I started by choosing which network to use. Just as in the gas stations industry, many different providers exist in the electrical charger industry, and you have networks that offer the combination of different providers on one card. Depending on the country you travel to, the availability of specific brands in that country, and your own preferences, it is advised to order a specific international charging card. As we were crossing Germany, Ionity was very well represented, and I decided to order a Plugsurfing card that works on these stations. As many charging stations work with QR code, it is actually not necessary to order a card, but for us it felt ‘safer’.
Bieke: On the Plugsurfing app you can always check upfront if the charger is free at the moment, that is very convenient! Otherwise, I took on a similar approach. I can really recommend the ‘A Better RoutePlanner’ website/app to plan the actual road trip. You can indicate which car you are driving, the network you want to use etc. it then shows where you need to charge in order to reach your destination. It is not the best app in user experience, but it mapped out the way and places to stop.
Example of a route that the website proposes
What did you like most about driving electrically to your destination?
Bieke: Making new friends! There was a group of Dutch people driving an EV that took the same route back with the same stops to charge. We met them twice at a charging station along the way where we bonded over driving with an EV. While you are charging you have the time to socialize and share stories, something that definitely would not happen if you were taking gas. Another element we enjoyed is that the ID.3 actually has significantly more leg space in the back than a non-electric Golf as there is no motor but only a battery!
Amélie: For me definitely the 'mandatory' breaks. As you need to charge more often than taking gas, you are taking a pause before your body or mind is really requesting it. You end up taking a longer break than just going to the toilet, taking gas and leave again, and that made us feel less tired when we reached our destination.
What was your most stressed moment during the trip?
Amélie: As the outward journey went really well, we were more confident for the return trip, so we did not plan the journey in detail and took more risk. At one point we passed a fast charger when we still had battery for 100 km. We saw on the Plugsurfing app that we would make it to the next charger, so we decided to continue driving. At the highway exit of the next charger, we noticed that the charger was at the other side of the highway and not accessible for cars driving our direction. At that point our battery was below 10% which we normally try to avoid in order not to stress. There really did not seem to be a way to get there, so we decided to go back to the highway, drive to the next exit, and then drive back in the other direction. We got stuck in traffic, but that was actually very convenient as we were driving slowly and stopping a lot, which recharges the battery. We then reached and accessed the charging station just in time to charge!
Bieke: We were also quite low on battery and had to do some grocery shopping. We looked on the app and saw that there was a charging station at an Auchan where you could charge for free. A win-win we thought… until we realized the Auchan was located on a huge ‘centre commerciale’ site. The parking lot was a maze so we could not find the charging station. Imagine, 35 degrees outside, a lot of people and a nearly empty battery (that made us turn off the A/C to save battery). Stress level was pretty high. Especially when we finally found the charging station but saw that it was out of service. Luckily, we managed to exit the site and find another charging station just in time.
What one advice would you give EV drivers planning to go on holiday with their EV for the first time?
Bieke: Take multiple charging cables with you if you have them. Fast chargers have their own cables, but regular chargers can have a different end. Also, if you want to charge at your holiday home, a cable that first a regular house plug can be handy and having it around will make you feel more at ease knowing you have options for charging.
Amélie: Preparation is key! Pick the right network card and prepare in advance where you want to charge. There are definitely enough chargers around but knowing where you will charge in advance will make you feel more at ease during the journey.