Destination ski slope: driving an electric car to the snow
Belgians who love snow eagerly look forward to the winter months. Families and groups of friends load their cars and head for the snowy mountain peaks. First the road trip and then … finally back on the slopes! LeasePlan employees Ken Corremans and Mark Jacobs also went on a skiing holiday this year. And for the first time they used an electric car to travel to their destination. They left with anxious hearts, but eventually were convinced: electric traveling is much more pleasant than in a traditional car. In this blog they share their experiences and golden tips.
**Going on vacation in an electric car? Not everyone is comfortable with that as some uncertainties come to mind: long distances, the availability of charging stations, extra travel time, changing temperatures … “Headaches that don’t really need to be headaches”, say LeasePlan employees Ken and Mark. “Traveling in an electric car is traveling with a different mindset. You know that you will need to stop a couple of times and therefore everything is much more relaxed. You also don’t feel the need to rush through the entire journey in one go. In fact, the vacation already starts in your driveway: the experience is totally different.”
An electric road trip obviously requires some preparation. But according to these colleagues, good preparation is more than half the battle. It all starts with getting to know your car and understanding its range. Then you make a planning and look for the best route. Finally, you make sure that all tools are ready for use: chargers, charging cards, any applications … “A large part of that preparation you only need to do once”, says Mark. “When everything is set up and you have had your first experience, you are ready for many pleasant road trips.” The story of their trips to the Czech Republic and Switzerland, you can read below.**
Ken drove to the Czech Republic in five 2-hour drives
- Destination: Teplice (Czech Republic)
- Distance one way: 826 km
- Car: Tesla Model S (year of manufacture 2018)
Ken’s daughter received her first skis as a birthday present. She was eager to test them, but there was no snow in Belgium. So, Ken picked up the phone and called to the Czech Republic. “My wife and I drive to Teplice every year. We have good friends there who live at the foot of a mountain. And this year there was a thick layer of snow, so our decision was quickly made!” The distance between Mechelen and Teplice is 826 kilometers. With their usual car it took them an average of 9 hours to drive. But since their daughter was born, they need more short toilet breaks. “Driving straight through was no longer an option anyway”, laughs Ken. “In our EV, it took us 11 hours. We stopped every two hours for about 25 minutes and did this five times.” For Ken, the stops were also important to keep the journey feasible for his daughter. “For a child, five stops are much easier to understand than driving 826 kilometers”, he says. “Each stop she got to choose an activity, so she had something to look forward to.”
Ken wasn’t bored for a moment either. “It’s great to track your consumption on the dashboard. It becomes a game to find and maintain the most efficient driving style. The sweet spot for this car is around 110 km/h. According to Ken, it’s also fun to see how the car makes its own estimations while driving. “This is how you navigate from charging station to charging station. The route we had plotted out beforehand pretty much matched our final route.” He laughs: “Smart car huh?!”
Ken’s 4 lifehacks:
- Turn every charging break into something pleasant. Play a game, take a walk, find a playground … Activities are so much more fun than sitting and waiting.
- When you’re almost at a charging point, you can preheat the battery. This will make the charging go faster.
- Find out well in advance where the charging stations at your destination are located. In tourist areas there is plenty of charging infrastructure, but in remote locations it can be more challenging to find them.
- Always take two cables with you: one for the fast charger and a normal cable that allows you to charge the car from any socket.
Mark travelled to Switzerland with peace of mind:
- Destination: Arosa (Switzerland)
- Distance one way: 875 km
- Car: Mercedes EQA (2021)
“Our car was brand new and had only been charged three times before we left on vacation. So, it was pretty exciting.” Mark understands the value of good preparation. Together with his companion, he drew everything out: from route to stops, charge cards, bank cards, and hotels. It was all organized and installed down to the last detail. “Of course, that preparation takes some time. But it allows you to leave with peace of mind.”
The trip was spread over two days. On Friday afternoon they jumped into the car to arrive in Freiburg (Germany) at around 10 pm. There they had booked an overnight stay in a hotel with a charging station. The first part of the journey covered 523 km and required three charging breaks. Mark says that each stop was a relief: You feel fresh and rested. While driving I felt a lot safer and more alert.” They completed the remaining 345 km on Saturday with a final stop in Switzerland. During the vacation itself, the car was stationary for a whole week. Despite the freezing temperatures, there was no energy loss whatsoever. “Our hotel had plenty of charging stations, but charging was not even necessary. We could return home without any worries.” Whether there have been any moments of stress? “We’ve had payment problems at the charging stations twice. One time the QR code didn’t work. Fortunately, we could pay with our card reader. Another time the system blocked completely. We then simply contacted the emergency number listed on the charging stations and were helped almost immediately. The service is first-class.”
Mark’s 4 lifehacks:
- Find out if you can get a monthly subscription to a charging network. This reduces charging costs by about 40% and is therefore definitely worthwhile. For example, we paid 46 euro cents per kWh while the average price without the subscription varies between 75 and 89 euro cents.
- Put a bank card reader in your car. When payment apps or QR codes at charging stations fail, you always have the card reader as a backup.
- Mercedes Me, Chargemap and ABRP are good apps for finding charging stops and planning routes.
- In Switzerland, fill up with energy on the MOVE network. This is a lot cheaper than Ionity.
Mark and Ken immediately fell in love with their electric car. They are already eagerly planning their next vacations. Maybe their story got you excited about an electric road trip too. With proper preparation, it is going to be a great experience. In this blog we share additional tips for a snow vacation with your EV. Curious for more? LeasePlan colleagues Ann-Laure and David will use their electric car for a trip during their spring break. You will soon discover their experiences on our social media.