Can you finally road trip in an electric car?
An honest and candid interview with Shell Recharge colleague Carole. Read all about her amazing European road trip.
So you have decided to embark on the joyful adventure that is road tripping with your EV this summer, but you are feeling a little apprehensive. That’s totally normal, and although charging on the go is easier and more convenient than ever before, we understand why you may approach this with excited trepidation. But worry not. We interviewed Carole, to give you real life commentary on what a trip like this could actually look like. And the good news is, her drive from Dusseldorf to the Atlantic coast, shows that it can be just as relaxing as any other holiday. In fact, Carole even said her experience of travelling with an EV felt like a luxury.
The EV trip at a glance:
Carole travelled in her Hyunday Kona with her family, from Dusseldorf, through Belgium, down through France and stopping at the Atlantic coast. It took her 11h17 to drive 1,012 km using 4 charge points to recharge. Including the return, they travelled a total of 2500 km. Along the way they made a few breaks, some detours and stops to visit family and friends, using charge points to power the entire journey.
We asked Carole…
How long have you been driving an EV?
Well, I worked on the Nissan Leaf launch and have been driving on and off since 2011. But I have been driving my current EV now consistently for about 2 years.
What’s your overall experience of driving an EV?
So the main thing is how relaxing they are to drive, for lots of reasons, but not least because they’re silent. It makes driving in cities especially enjoyable. The acceleration is good, a much more dynamic way of driving. Now I charge at home 2x per week, so I know I always have charge if I need to drive anywhere. I never worry about doing long drives any more, If I go further, I know I will always have somewhere to stop. It’s the new normal.
So you have been driving electric for a while, have things developed a lot? What’s been the biggest change in the last 10 years?
The biggest change is most definitely the range of cars, my range anxiety has completely disappeared. This is a huge development, back when I started in 2011 the range was genuinely scary. Every journey felt touch-and-go. Now you can travel 450 kms without having to think about it. Also, you can really trust what you are told. When EVs first launched, the range car manufacturers advertised was highly inflated from the reality and misleading, now I have no doubts that what I am told is accurate. Another thing is that the standards are much clearer and higher, now you know that most charging points will be compatible with your vehicle…and they will work.
Would you say the charge network is reliable?
Public charging infrastructure is so much more reliable than it used to be. I wouldn't have dared to do a long distance trip before, and now I barely think about it. My favourite charge operator is the Ionity network: fast, reliable, transparent tariffs, charging enabled via the app. It’s the best! But that comes at a price, with 0.73p per kWh it’s also the most expensive.
Have you been on holiday with your EV before?
No, this was my first big trip, it was 2500 km in total
How did you feel about going on holiday with your EV?
I was super excited! And I felt really proud. Finally, I was able to do a long distance trip.
So what preparation did you do?
I didn't end up doing too much planning in the end, it was so easy. However, because I had the kids with me, I knew I had to make fairly regular stops anyway. I planned the major stop offs, roughly planning each 600km stretch, with a break in the middle.
Generally, my advice is to just plan like you would with a regular car. Of course, you need to make stops, and ensure you have enough charge to get to the next place, but the car doesn’t dictate the plan any more. I have a trip to do, and I know I can do it in my car…which happens to be an EV.
How was the trip in general?
The good thing about it is, because I had to stop anyway, I took my time and used it as an excuse to stop off at friends’ houses along the way. You can stop off at cities or interesting places that you may not have seen otherwise. It’s really nice and feels like a privilege that I can do that. I don’t race, I just take my time getting from point A to B. I just really enjoy the journey.
What is the biggest challenge with charging abroad?
I didn't have any major challenges. Something to be aware of, though, is that you still need a card to activate the charger and that some charge points don’t display the charging costs. Whilst you know the tariffs from the app, the final consumption and total costs are often unclear. This can be an issue if you are on a strict budget. It can also can be very annoying if chargers are not working.
So you travelled through 3 countries, are there any considerations one should take for this?
As mentioned, the pricing is not always very transparent. This is particularly noticeable in France. Not only is the pricing unclear, but there is a real diversity of charge points, that all have different requirements. In the Netherlands, UK and Germany this is much more visible and there is a flat rate for AC chargers, a flat rate for DC charges and a flat rate for Ionity, so you know what to expect. Be aware that this is not the case in all countries, France, for example.
Would you go on holiday with your EV again?
Yes, I’ll do the same next summer.
Where will you go?
A tour de France! I’ll drive all over France, making stops along the way and visiting all my friends and family.
And finally, what tip would you give to someone about to embark on their first EV trip?
Almost all the charge points accept the Shell Recharge card, in fact, I didn't encounter any that didn’t. But I did order, and bring an alternative card. It’s very unlikely you’ll need it, but just in case of an emergency. Other than that, take your time and although it sounds cliché, it really is about the journey, not the destination.
Carole has shown that driving an EV across Europe doesn’t have to be scary. Having said that, Carole is a bit of an EV veteran, having driven electric since 2011. So just to put your mind at ease, we also have lots of advice and tips on how to make the whole experience even easier. We’ve even written an article addressing her biggest pain point around pricing tariffs in Europe.
How to make your EV road trip even easier
Download the Shell Recharge app
The Shell Recharge app enables EV drivers to charge on-the-go. You can access all of our public charge points, plan your journey, navigate and pay all with one app. It is through the app that you order and activate your charge card too.
Plan your charge breaks
Although we provide access to 300,000 public charge points across Europe, it is advisable to plan your route and check the availability of charge points. The app will provide you with real-time information, but you can also check with our locator.
More first hand EV experiences
Jelle travelled from Amsterdam to the Ardennes in his Nissan Leaf EV. Check out his invaluable advice, such as booking into accommodation with charge points and using a charge stop for a comfort breaks and food stops.