The wife and I were in the midst of some logistical planning a few days before Easter 2014, amongst which we needed to arrange for her stuff (currently in storage in the Netherlands) to be shipped to our home in the UK. We’d been married barely two months by then, and her move over from the Netherlands included the sum total of everything we could carry between the two of us on the Eurostar (including her wedding dress!). Suffice to say, she was rather keen on getting a few more key items of her belongings over post-haste!
There were a few other travel balls in the air over the next month making the logistics decision a bit more complicated – but I’ll spare you the details.
A few glasses of wine in, the wife hits me with this brainwave for the Easter weekend – why don’t we drive the (electric) Zoe to the Netherlands ?
Now, we’d done a few little road trips (a few = 2) in the Zoe already, a difficult ride to Stansted, and a slightly more pleasurable one to Wales, but you’d have to be barking mad to want to take an EV to continental Europe, and all the way to the south of the Netherlands, surely ? That’s travelling across the UK, France, Belgium and then the Netherlands…
There were all sorts of considerations, how would we charge, how would we even find charging spots (given that charge maps even within the UK were unreliable or incomplete), how would we get access to the RFID cards that would allow us to charge in each of these countries, etc. etc. There were more questions than answers, far too many for this trip to be a plausible at such short notice…
Barking mad or not, the wife is seldom constrained by the realities of reason, sense or plausibility. A glass more red wine to dampen my own logic circuits, and she had me convinced – EV Road Trip to Europetown was ON! 🙂
So, with the wife having done her part conjuring up this grandiose idea she flittered off to decide what colour to make me paint the bathroom (as the wife is wont to do), and left it to me to now make this a reality 😐
Research started immediately. There was only a day before we planned on leaving, so options were limited – in particular, there was no time to allow for delivery of a charging RFID card (needed to initiate charging) from any of the European charging networks – we’d have to take a chance on picking these up Europe-side.
Our route was going to be something like:
So we’d need charging options in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.
Wait a minute… Germany ? Where did that come from, thought we were going to pick some stuff up from the Netherlands. Did I forget to mention that wifey came past mid-research and added a fifth country ? Just to pop in for some family history. As you do, you know. Sigh, such is life…
Anyway, best I summarise this road trip charging research sharpish, this post is turning into more of a moany-moany about the wife than road tripping…
UK – pretty well established and tested options with Ecotricity fast chargers and the Polar network, some decent options getting to Folkstone to take the Eurotunnel. Would have to get the timings right though, as you generally book a specific train crossing, can’t be late.
France – charging network information was scarce online (or in French!) – although I did flag some Renault dealerships that had chargers, figuring Renault would be friendly to a fellow Renault Zoe, albeit English. We’re not in France for that long anyway, so on to…
Belgium – the country that we’re traversing the most of. And the one in the middle. Need to get this one right. And fortunately Belgium seemed *very* switched on with electric vehicles, impressive. With a number of different charging networks, I settled on two potentials – BeCharged and Blue Corner – both had pretty decent Belgian coverage and from what I could make out had info on roaming in other European countries. So popped a quick email off to each of them, requesting a charge card that I could pick up at their offices in Ghent and Antwerpen respectively.
Netherlands – the Dutch have great EV uptake, and the country is literally covered in chargers. Didn’t spend much more time on this, as I expected we’d manage – even if we didn’t get a Belgian charge card that could roam in the Netherlands, it was at least a known destination we could figure out when we got there.
Germany – ditto for Germany, was late in the night by then, no time to dig into Germany – if we sorted out the Netherlands, Germany wouldn’t be much trouble. He said optimistically.
zzzzzzzz… time for bed.