Electric to IFA - Special Coverage
Travelling to the IFA Trade show in Berlin by only Electric Means
Your Software Solution is our Passion
Chapter 5 Day 2 - Under the channel and more signage please
So today began unplugging the type 2 cable at the hotel in Ashford. That charge cost £2.52 - so although a faff with the app was at least very cheap adding more than enough power for the trip to the Eurotunnel.
We easilly made it to the Eurotunnel on time. Which allowed us to plug in at one of the four clearly visible SuperChargers which amazed me on a bank holiday by being empty. There were also two available Chademo/CCS chargers.
By the time I had drunk my morning coffee in the Terminal Building the SuperCharger had topped us back up to full. According to the navigation system when we made it to the other side of the Channel that was more than enough to get us to Antwerp with thirty percent of the battery remaining. Exiting the high vehicle carriage.. wait I hear you say the Model S isn't tall.. Yes but it is very wide and even Eurotunnel recommend boarding it in the high carriage to avoid scuffing those expensive rims. Anyway exiting the carriage we made our way onto France's free flowing highway system and soon crossed over to Belgium. Aside from one scare where the Tesla's Auto Lane change tried to move into a vehicle beside us the AutoPilot really helped churn through the Kilometres with ease.
Two hours later and the driver had ran out of range way before the vehicle and our first stop without charging. I knew we had more enough range left the car was showing we had gained some range and would have 40% left when we got to Antwerp. Now part of my planning I had spotted there was a car park near where we are staying on the PlugSurf network. PlugSurf is a pan-european group of charger networks and means you can use one App or, more extensively, an RFID fob to start charging and bill the charge to a credit card or even PayPal. You do need to set this up in advance and if you want a fob pay for it in advance (a very small charge which seems to mainly cover delivery). Delivery is extrememly quick from Germany bit you might want to do this a few weeks in advance. It does seem a very easy to use and wide ranging network.
So I wasn't worried about going to the SuperCharger at Antwerp. I would for convenience pay the small fee to be able to charge overnight.
Thirty minutes later as I turned round another incredibly tight ramp to go up another floor in the ten floor parking garage to find the chargers I was really regretting this choice. Every floor had a sign saying the garage had chargers but no sign of the chargers and not indication of where they actually were. I was getting fed up and headed to the exit. At the last moment I spotted them on a lower what I had assumed was a private parking floor. At last I got the type 2 cable out (now in the Frunk which was a bit more convenient) plugged in and was pleased to see the plug surfing fob worked. This was a case where if I hadn't done reasearch I wouldn't have had a clue how to activate the charger.
A plea - PEOPLE USE SIGNAGE - if you are going to go to the bother to provide actually really good charging facilities in your parking then just spend a few more Euros and put some clear signage of where to find it.
This was not a good experience but with a little signage it would have been. I would also love to know the history of why you have to bring your own type 2 cable to most of these chargers. It doesn't seem environmentally friendly that every driver has to carry a large chunk of metal and a difficult to construct port rather than have the cables on the charger. I do understand that cable length might be an issue. Tesla have an advantage that they know where the charger port is on every one of their vehicles but other manufacturers have ports in all sorts of places meaning lots of different cable lengths. On the other hand they seem to have worked this out for CCS and Chademo DC chargers.
To be honest this spoiled what was going to be an excellent example of a really easy electric car day and gave real ammunition to the sceptics and a simple sign would have made it a perfect smooth EV day.
Tomorrow we get to test a Tesla Destination charger so let's see how that goes. So far it seems to me that we now have really excellent electric cars but for longer journeys when you can't charge at home the experience is still slightly spoiled by the charging experience... except when using the Tesla SuperChargers (as long as they are well signed - sorry I stop harping on about signage now)
I do have to say I've not had the slightest bit of range anxiety.