Taking the battery to France

The full route — not done in one go!

Planning — choosing the best route

In my experience, the best tool for anyone to use when planning a long-distance trip in an electric car is A Better Route Planner (ABRP). As well as having one of the most complete databases of available chargers, it also includes the mapping and route element to get you from charger to charger with battery to spare. It is not perfect though, so bear that in mind.

Pre-Prep — cards and cables

A few weeks before we set off, I was doing some research around the RFID cards that I might need and settled on 2 — ChargePoint and Shell Recharge. The ChargePoint card I already had as they have a couple of charging points in Ireland (and it was free to get!) The Shell card was easy to sign up for and also free. Both cards cover a huge number of stations across Europe — just not the same ones all the time! The ChargePoint card also has the advantage of having a lower cost at Ionity stations in the UK.

Cable and socket tester from Tough Leads

First leg — Rosslare to Calais

As it turned out, I was able to have a full charge when leaving home early on the Saturday morning. I had charged to 80% at the local Killinick ESB fast charger and then was able to plug in at home (not always possible — but that is another story!) overnight to get it up to 100%.

GridServe units at MOTO Swansea on the M4

Second leg — Calais to Mannheim

In my planning, I had written down that we needed to be at 70% leaving Calais or we would need to stop at the Ionity at Veuvre, just over the Belgian border. Because of the last-minute charge near Folkestone, we were actually at 70% leaving the hotel. Nevertheless, we wanted to buy a few bits for the journey and some wine for our relatives, so we headed for the Intermarché supermarket in Calais that had a single Corri-door fast charger in the car park. While we were doing our shopping (including a very good Boulangerie right beside the charger!), we charged from 69% to 85% at a cost of €6.38. I used the Shell Recharge / NewMotion card here.

Allego charging station at Rhinhessen Centre

Exploring Germany and Strasbourg (and free charging!)

Over the next few days, we did a lot of local exploration and found free chargers in car parks on three occasions! These were generally activated by the Shell card. We did find an E.ON charger in a car park in Heidelberg that wasn’t working, but we didn’t really need the charge at that time.

EV charging options at Rivetoile, Strasbourg

Homeward bound — Germany to Vernon, Normandy

The next day dawned cold and foggy. Except for a few places along the route, the fog didn’t lift right across Germany and France.

Last leg — meandering from Vernon to Cherbourg

The last morning dawned bright and clear and, after a very nice breakfast, we set out the short hop up the road to Monet’s home of Giverny for a pleasant walk around (unfortunately all the museums are shut up for the winter). We then headed for the beautiful fishing town of Honfleur for a very tasty lunch. With the full charge overnight, we didn’t need to worry about charging for a while so we continued our meander down to the Cidres & Calvados Michel Breavoine farm near Pont-l’Évêque to buy some of their wares. Then we continued our meander to some other places we knew in that part of Normandy, finally ending up at the Ionity at Giberville Nord on the A13. We charged here from 42% to 79%, at a cost of €22.30 before heading for Cherbourg on the N13 — which has been upgraded to dual carriageway since I last drove the route, 23 years ago!

Epilogue

So, the final analysis. We did almost 1,200km getting to Germany and just short of 1,000km coming back. In between, driving all around from Strasbourg to Frankfurt, we did another 570km or so. Almost 2,800km in total.

Some stats

It should have cost €268.60, but thanks to the card glitches, only cost €210.24. A lot of the cost was at high cost (0.60–0.80 / kWh or min) chargers that are typical in mainland Europe.

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Stephen Redmond

Stephen Redmond

Stephen Redmond, Big Data, AI & Data Viz Professional. MSc in Data Analytics. Qlik Luminary. Author and blogger. All opinions my own.