8 lessons I learned crossing Europe by electric car

At the beginning of this month, a server posed, for journalistic purposes, a most interesting challenge: go on vacation in an electric car. Specifically to Paris, traveling from the north of Spain, and with the idea of ​​visiting some cities on the coast of France along the way. The chosen car was a Volkswagen ID.5 in GTX version, with its 490 km of WLTP autonomy. The purpose of the trip was check how to make a long trip in an electric car. On that trip I learned several lessons that I now want to share with you.

1) The number of chargers is not a problem

One of the obstacles to the implementation of the electric car used to be the number of existing chargers in our geography. Although we are behind neighboring countries such as France or Portugal, today the presence of chargers is abundantboth in our country and in the land of Robespierre. It’s very difficult to get stranded because you don’t have chargers nearby. Of course, the presence of fast chargers (of more than 50 kW of power) should increase considerably throughout Europe, in addition to the vital expansion of the ultra-fast charging network.

2) The electric car is comfortable and refined

The Volkswagen ID.5 chosen for the trip has been an excellent companion. It is a very comfortable car, with a comfort-oriented suspension – yes, even in the chosen GTX version – and it is also very quiet. in electric cars the mechanics do not emit noise and the insulation is great to minimize the sound of rolling. Traveling long distances in an electric car does not take a physical toll more than traveling in a conventional car. In fact, in most electric cars, it costs much less.

They are very quiet cars and their driving, especially in the city, is not very stressful.

3) The real autonomy is very conditioned by the type of road, and suffers a lot on the highway

The average autonomy approved by electric cars is much higher than the real autonomy. And it is especially evident when we travel on fast roads: the car cannot recover energy and this is where consumption increases the most – in an internal combustion car it happens the other way around. It is usual for an electrician to have autonomy 30 or 40% lower than the approved average if we only drive at a sustained speed on highways and motorways. The ID.5 GTX homologates 490 km of average autonomy, its reality on the highway is 350 km in the best of cases.

4) Fast car charging is vital on the road

If we want to cover long distances by road and motorway in the same day, resorting to fast or ultra-fast charging is essential so that our journey does not take too long. Still, even using ultra-fast chargers, filling the Volkswagen ID.5 GTX’s battery took about an hour. These stops can get tiresome if we don’t coincide with a meal or a visit, and after a day they can extend the journey by several hours. Traveling by electric car is not suitable for the most impatient or “rushing”.

The maximum charging power of the Volkswagen ID.5 GTX is 130 kW. A power higher than 200 kW would save a lot of time.

5) Recharging the car determines the planning of the route

If your goal is to do a good mileage on the same day, it is imperative to plan the trip taking into account the load of the car. When planning we must not only be conservative with the estimated autonomy of the car – something that time will give us – but also prioritize the presence of fast chargers on the route, with the aim of making them coincide with stops to eat or visit . Unfortunately, we will not have the same freedom or margin to improvise that we are used to in an internal combustion car.

“Recharging” an internal combustion car takes 3 or 4 minutes, and the range can be up to 1,000 km in some cases.

6) There is a huge technology gap

This is perhaps one of the most controversial points in the current state of the electric car. Practically all electric car charging networks require the use of a smartphone app – with its registration, QR codes and validations – and a certain technological knowledge. There is a access barrier important to the electric car if we don’t have certain skills – think of a 60 or 70-year-old person. In addition, finding a charging point today implies use different applications and web serviceswith hardly any physical announcements of their presence.

7) Traveling by electric is different (but not cheaper) than traveling in a conventional car

Today, traveling by electric car means traveling like our parents’ generation did. It involves traveling more slowly, making more stops and planning the trip in more detail. If we need to cover long distances in a short time and minimize travel time, a diesel car is still unbeatable. The electric car is much cheaper if we charge it at home with a good rate, but if we only resort to fast charges – on the road it is the norm – the cost per kilometer is comparable to that of a diesel car average consumption.

Interestingly, there is a great disparity in prices per kWh when charging. Pricing is not very transparent and sometimes difficult to understand.

7+1) Lack of civility and simplify recharges

The expansion of the electric car is already palpable in Europe and in France it is very common to see electric cars in circulation, both on the streets of cities and towns, and in charging stations, full of tourists from all over the continent. In Spain, however, certain lack of civility is still perceived, even by drivers of electric cars: one incident on the trip was the presence of an already charged car occupying a charger for longer than it should have – something that was just a penalty economic can fix.

Another major problem to be solved is the Existing complexity in charging the car. Simplifying this process is key, a process that should be as simple as refueling in a thermal car – a POS in each charger, and please, fewer applications. These applications are sometimes poorly designed and cause computer problems that end up preventing the recharge. The electric car is on the right track and has evolved a lot and quickly, but it still has a long way to go.

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