By Joachim P. Kjeldsen, video journalist, Nordic Folkecenter for Renewable Energy
If you are the type of person who is used to going on holiday by car around Europe, then the thought has probably crossed your mind, whether it is possible to enjoy the same freedom in an electric car? “Can I get off just as quickly, is my choice of destination and route more limited, is there even enough charging stations in Europe? And finally: what does it cost?” These are questions I will try to answer based on my own experiences with summer holiday with an electric car in the past three years.
My family and I have been driving around Europe with a tent and camping gear in the trunk for the past 20 years. For the past three summers, the means of transport has been an electric car, specifically a Tesla Model 3 Long Range.
Our first travel by electric car went to Norway, last year to the South of France and in the summer of 2022 the trip went from Thy in northwestern Denmark to Gibraltar and back again along a route via Mulhouse in Northern France, San Sebastian in the Basque Country, the Gredos mountains, Seville, Ronda, Gibraltar , Granada, Sierra Nevada and up along the Spanish east coast over Capo De Gata to Montserat and Roses in Catalonia. And then from Roses, up through France, Luxembourg, Germany and home to Thy. Just below 8,000 kilometers in total.
And how quickly can you get to Lake Garda, you may be thinking?
I can give a few examples from our trip here in 2022. We drove the 1,250 km from Thy to Mulhouse in 16 hours incl. charging breaks. Mulhouse to San Sebastian (1,150 km) took 15 hours and the trip from Roses through France, Luxembourg, Germany and home to Thy, which is a trip of 2,150 km, took 29 hours. This gives an average speed for the three examples of 77 km/h incl. charging breaks.
On the trip, we arrived in San Sebastian in the evening of day two. Could we have done it faster in a petrol or diesel car with fewer refueling stops? Yes, of course we could, but the question is whether it would have been particularly pleasant. A driving routine with 15-20 minute charging breaks approx. every three hours is actually a very pleasant way to drive long distances.
Are there enough charging stations?
On our three summer holidays so far, in the Tesla, it has been no problem to find charging stations. Tesla’s charging network is tightly meshed and at the same time an integrated part of the car’s navigation system. So we only felt limited in our route choices to a very small extent. But what if you drive an electric car brand other than Tesla? Firstly, Tesla has made it possible to charge other car brands at selected Tesla superchargers in a number of European countries. It simply requires that you have a Tesla app on your phone and have created a profile with an associated payment card. Tesla has opened for other car brands on selected superchargers in the following European countries: Denmark, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, Luxemburg, Netherlands, France, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Great Britain, Belgium and Austria.
In addition, there are plenty of other providers of charging infrastructure around Europe already, and more charging points are being added all the time – including superchargers. Finally, more and more hotels, hostels and campsites have destination chargers that you can use as a guest.
So what does it cost?
As mentioned, we have driven almost 8,000 km this summer. Our total charging costs were DKK 3,700, corresponding to approx. 500 euros. This gives a price of 0,47 DKK per kilometer, corresponding to 6 euro cents in July 2022 prices.
Electrify your travel
So to summarize: Yes, based on my experience in the specific car model, you can easily electrify travelling by car and enjoy the same freedom as you are used to with a petrol or diesel car. At the same time, the slightly more frequent breaks provide a more pleasant driving routine and finally, even with 2022 electricity prices, it is cheaper than fossil fuels.