While the capacity of most electric vehicles to be used for long road trips is an unknown in the minds of many prospective buyers, there are actually quite a few first-hand accounts of electric vehicle road trips now out there.
These give potential buyers the option of getting some idea of what current popular electric vehicle (EV) models are actually capable of, as far as long-distance travel goes. To add to that growing resource pool, a group of young people in Europe recently made and documented a road trip through a number of European countries in a Kia Soul EV (which has a range of around 100 miles).
There’s a full account of the trip — detailing everything from the route, to the charging station utilization details, to the costs, etc — on the Electric Roadmovie website, for those interested. I’m going to highlight a couple of the excerpts here that were most interesting to me:
Besides fixing a car, we had to prepare and plan our trip. To visit a wide variety of landscapes and charging networks we wanted to at least cross the Alps and reach the Côte D’Azur, the south coast of France. A road trip this size was not done before in an affordable electric car. We planned a possible route of about 4000 km (2485 mi), based on charger locations. We aimed for CHAdeMO chargers, which can charge the Soul to 83% within half an hour. Without any electric driving experience, it was hard to estimate the distance we could travel in a day and the time we would have left for adventure.
…After a week, we face a new challenge. According to family and friends, the Alps require brute force. With an electric motor, the full torque of 285 Nm is directly available from 0 rpm. At traffic lights we learned that the acceleration of the Soul is able to press you firmly in your seat. And indeed, this proves that the Alps are no match for the Soul. Compared to the gear switching and sputter of the Picanto, the Soul whizzes smoothly through hairpin bends to the top.
…In our planned route, the start of the trip seemed quite stable. Apart from the Netherlands, we could use a card of The New Motion in Germany, Belgium and Austria. Unfortunately, we learned that many local networks in Germany, Austria and Switzerland are not compatible. Some charging locations work with an app, others are SMS-activated or work with a dedicated charging pass. This can yield challenging situations. SMS-activated charging locations often rely on a national service number (0800) inaccessible with a foreign SIM card. A dedicated charging card has to be obtained at a counter or office, which means that charging locations can have limited opening hours.
Besides inconsistency in payment options, there are large differences in cost calculation. At some stations you pay per session, while others charge per minute or kilowatt. In Pietra Ligure, Italy, we wanted to top up from 60% at the only local gas station with a charger. This charger lacked a meter, so the pump attendant could not check our consumption. Therefore, he came up with a price of €10. To put it in perspective; the electricity costs for a complete charge are typically around five euros.
…In total we paid less than €50 (53 USD) to travel 4486 km (2787 mi) with the Soul EV, mostly because (most) chargers were free.
The whole story is quite interesting, and goes over some of the differences in charging in different countries — France is relatively simple because of where chargers are located and the ubiquity of the dominant pay-pass; it’s challenging in Germany; etc. It’s worth a read for those so inclined.
Image Credit: Electric Road Movie