When we bought our 100% electric Renault ZOE last year, the one compromise that we thought we would have to make was that it couldn’t be used holidays for abroad in Europe. It just didn’t sound feasible.
Then earlier this year, we took the plunge and decided to try taking the car abroad. We set ourselves a fairly easy target and drove the Zoe to our favourite city of Ghent in Belgium and although we had a few minor hiccups, we successfully got there and back. We started thinking, if we can drive to Ghent, how much further could we go? Could we drive to the Alps? And could we do it without the hiccups now that we knew what we were doing?
I started researching and found that Germany has a pretty good network of 22-kilowatt type 2 chargers that are ideal for charging the Renault ZOE. We just needed to be able to access them with the correct membership. We planned the route across Belgium (via Ghent of course!) to the German Alps and the Black Forest. We bought a ticket for the Eurotunnel (because it’s electric), ordered the relevant membership cards (Blue Corner and Ladenetz) and off we went.
In all honesty, my wife and I both expected that we would run out of batteries half way across Belgium, but it didn’t happen. Nor did it happen when we headed away from the big towns into the Alps, or driving around the mountainous Black Forest. Having travelled about 2,000 miles on our holiday and having passed through France, Belgium, Holland, Germany and Austria, I’m pleased to say that not only were we successful, but it was surprisingly easy.
Furthermore, it was by far the most relaxing long-distance car journey that we’ve ever done, partly because the car is so quiet and fun to drive and partly because we stopped in so many beautiful places along the way. Our main destinations were Ghent, Bonn, Stuttgart, Bad Wörishofen, Oberstdorf, Freiberg and the Black Forest.
We found the chargers to be really reliable and actually only found five chargers that didn’t work. Two were Ecotricity chargers in the U.K. at Clacket Lane and Maidstone, one didn’t exist because the car park had been demolished, one didn’t recognize our Ladenetz membership card and one in Oberstdorf stopped working shortly after a Tesla from Norway finished charging. Luckily, none of these actually caused us a problem. We also charged a few times using the Schuko household cable that we purchased from the H. Mahy Renault dealer in Ghent. We actually found the chargers so reliable that we became very confident (perhaps too confident) in our route planning and stopped worrying too much about having backup chargers near each stop.
We found that the car was averaging about 95 miles of range through our trip. Larger legs were driven in Eco mode and on shorter legs we switched off the eco mode. We were particularly impressed how well the ZOE coped in the mountains, regaining huge amounts of energy through regenerative braking going downhill. We were still achieving over 80 miles range even in the Alps. We met lots of nice people along the way, got some curious looks while charging and lots of good reactions. We also found some free chargers using the ChargeMap app. Of course, it would be nice if the car had a longer range and it would certainly be easier to cross Europe in a Tesla than it is in a Renault ZOE, but with a little bit of preparation it is actually a really great way to travel on holiday.
To go on holiday with an electric car to Germany, here’s what you need.
If you have any questions or want to share your experiences, please leave a comment below.