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Can you travel abroad in a Renault Zoe electric car?

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?

To the Alps!

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.

Charging the car off the schuko socket behind the log store at Haus Sonne in the Black Forest
Charging the car off the schuko socket behind the log store at Haus Sonne in the Black Forest

Did we run out of batteries?

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.

ZOE in the German Alps… just in case you didnt believe me 😉


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.

Emission Impossible! Free electric car charging at the Beethoven car park in Bonn


Were the chargers reliable?

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 had two occasions where non-electric cars were blocking the chargers. In this case an ADAC employee, who panicked when he realised that he couldnt get his car out at 5 o clock. It served him right, but we did let him go.


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.

Fancy an electric car holiday in Europe?

To go on holiday with an electric car to Germany, here’s what you need.

Essentials list:

  1. An electric car
  2. A Eurotunnel ticket
  3. A  BlueCorner membership card for charging in Belgium.
  4. PlugSurfing membership (app and key fob)
  5. Ladenetz 30-day membership card for charging in Germany.
  6. The ChargeMap app for your Android or iPhone.
  7. Mobile data roaming to use the PlugSurfing and ChargeMap apps.

Also, nice to have is:

  1. A mains charging cable with a Schuko plug or a U.K. plug with a Schuko adapter
  2. Some other electric charging network membership cards.

You can hear more about our trip on the Wholesome Business podcast here or on iTunes.



If you have any questions or want to share your experiences, please leave a comment below.


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