How easy are long trips in an EV?

General Updates

Just how easy is it to drive to the South of France in an EV?

In Oct2021 I found out when I drove to visit my family in the Dordogne region of South West France.

So in October 2021, after 2 years of the pandemic cancelling holidays and planned trips to visit family. I decided time was right to take my mum down to see our family for her birthday. It is a long way and normally we would fly but we both felt that driving would be better and felt safer in our own environment rather than using an airport and plane.

Now, I drive (as does my mum) a fully electric car. I have a 2020 Tesla Model 3 Dual Motor Long Range. (mum has the Hyundai Kona)

The stated range, which no one has ever achieved, is over 300 miles. which if we were able to get would mean 1 stop halfway, as the total distance is 650ish miles from Calais. But as you will see, driving at the speed limit (or there abouts…) has a dramatic effect on range.

So the question is, would it be better to drive slow and do fewer charging stops or drive as fast as you can (within the limits) and charge more often. Well here is my experience of doing just that with all the ups and the few downs along the way.

If you do not want to read all about the trip and just want the facts, there is a table at the bottom of the page with all the information presented.

So, a bit of background, as a child we did many trips across the channel and then spent a day driving through rural France to get to my uncles’ place, which is about 1 hour east of Bordeaux. Before the Channel Tunnel and before the modern motorway network was what it is today, the journeys were long and we never looked forwards to travelling on the ferry. No one in my family travels well, in fact, my sister was car sick in the first 15 miles of the journey one year. We hadn’t even got out of Essex! The ferry was hated by us all and always made us feel ill.

So the choice to use a ferry or the Channel Tunnel was a no brainer! Drive up, drive on the train, 25 mins, drive off the train straight onto the motorway and away. It is by far the easiest way to get to Europe.

The plan was to leave home at 6 am with 100% battery, get to Folkstone, top up the bit of battery we used whilst waiting for the train, then get going to Rouen. However, this is where the first slip up happened.

For some unknown reason the night before I set off, my home charger decided not to work. Of course, this has never happened, before or since. But there we go. Fortunately, I was at 89% battery anyway so it wasn’t a disaster.

However, it was a very cold morning, so with lights/heated seats and the aircon on to demist the windows, plus the obligatory M25 traffic jam we arrived at the EuroTunnel with 44% battery remaining.

Now I had booked flexible tickets, simply because I didn’t want the added pressure of making a single booking time. So we could just turn up and get the next available train without penalty. Plus we get to use the dedicated “Flexiplus Lounge”, as we checked in I asked if there were Tesla SuperChargers at the Flexiplus lounge or just at the main terminal. I was informed there was chargers at both. Perfect. Through border and customs points, with us being selected for random search which delayed us another 15 mins. Arrived at the flexiplus lounge to find, no chargers at all….

Wonderful! (The lady at the lounge said she could get us escorted back to the terminal if we needed, but I decided we would just push on)

Train boarding and the trip was easy and quick as always but now we were at less than half battery and trying to work out where we would need to charge.

First pangs of range anxiety started to bubble up.

However, I need not have worried. There were 2 options. 1 we carry on to Abbeville about 50 miles along the journey, or we could stop just outside the Eurotunnel Terminal where there was a Telsa Supper charger stop. As this was the first stop in France and unsure if we were going to have any issues we elected to stop at Calais. (ended up stopping at Abbeville too but that was due to bladder range issues, not ev range!)

STOP 1: CALAIS

I need not have worried that charging may have some issues, we drove directly to the stop using the Tesla’s inbuilt sat-nav. Which knows you are going to a supercharger and “preconditions” the battery to ensure it is ready to receive a huge amount of charge in a short space of time.

Soon as I plugged in the car, the charger started. This is one of the key benefits of owning a Tesla. The charging network, it just works.

No faffing with payment cards, mobile apps, registering with another charging network provider, calling support because the app doesn’t work. No worrying you don’t have a mobile signal.

Nope,  simply plug in and charge.

ARRIVED: 43% @ 10:11
DISTANCE TRAVELLED: 95 Miles
DEPARTED: 81% 10:28 (17min stop)
COST: €11.31

Set off for Rouen the next stop

STOP 2: ROUEN

So we made it to Rouen, which was 137 miles from Calais. Now the speed limit in France is 130KPH, which is 81 MPH. I sat at that speed(+/- 10%) for the whole journey. Great for getting long distances, not so great for efficiency!

We arrived with 14% battery at 12:40 PM, so we used 67% battery to drive 137 miles. Meaning 100% battery range was about 205 Miles, Much less than the stated 352 WLTP range! But the same applies to driving a petrol car at higher speeds!

The battery by now was nice and warm and the nice new V3 chargers put out up to 250KW of power!

As you can see on the screenshot we managed to get 201KW which was adding 1318KM/hr into the battery!!

Again the sat nav had planned this as a stop along the way, directed us directly to the charger, preconditioned the battery and even gave us the code for the hotel car park gate to get in!

We went for the human pit stops, and then had a little 10 min walk around the grounds just to stretch our legs.

ARRIVED: 14% @ 12:40
DISTANCE TRAVELLED: 137
DEPARTED: 82% 13:07 (27min stop)
COST: €18.34

STOP 3 : LE MANS

The run from Rouen to LeMan, was again on amazing Frence Motorways, hardly another car or lorry on the road. A real pleasure to drive, and exceptionally good for the Tesla Self Driving, pretty much just had to sit there and let the car do all the work.

LeMan there are 2 sets of SuperChargers and the Sat Nav took us to the one inside of the shopping centre complex. This enabled us to pop into the supermarket to get some snacks for the remainder of the journey and to stop for lunch. This meant we actually stayed at the stop longer than was needed by the car, but we was ok with that. Up to this point I had been adding another 10% to the battery at each stop as I wanted to make sure I had plenty of spare, but was coming to realise if the car said you would arrive with 10% it was pretty much going to be right at somewhere between 8-12%. Basically an additional 3% would have been more than enough not to worry about an extra buffer.

ARRIVED: 19% @ 14:55
DISTANCE TRAVELLED: 124 Miles
DEPARTED: 86% 15:27 (32min stop)
COST: €18.27

STOP 4: POITIERS

Again a wonderful road between LeMan and Poitiers, its wonderful watching the landscape change as you drive through the French countryside.

Now this could have been our final stop, but I had decided I was going to stop once more at Angouleme, which is the last SuperCharger point before getting to my Uncles. I wanted to make sure I arrived with enough to get back to Angouleme, just in case the local charger didn’t work as it wasn’t a Tesla charger.

But once again, Poitier was easy to find, and is located in a hotel carpark in the Futurascope complex.

This time I broke out my secret weapon! My hiking gas stove and made a cup of coffee and tea for mum. This took 10 mins, so passed the time whilst charging. Which again we didn’t need, as we had plenty to get to Angouleme with 3% remaining, but seems my mum wasn’t as confident to get there with such a small margin as I was.

ARRIVED: 30% @ 17.58
DISTANCE TRAVELLED: 123 Miles
DEPARTED: 85% 18:24 (26min stop)
COST: €14.60

STOP 5: ANGOULEME

The final stop to add enough to ensure we could make it back here on the return journey, even if we couldn’t add any power south of this point. As it turned out we didn’t need to as the town charger not only worked, but was free! (yet to be charged on my Credit Card at time of writing)

So we stopped only for a quick comfort break and topped up the battery. As time was getting on, the ETA to arrive was 10pm, it was a long trip but the motorway ends here and its all National and back roads through villages from here on down. This was really the first point at which I had to drive the car myself rather than let FSD drive the car all by itself.

ARRIVED: 52% @ 19:36
DISTANCE TRAVELLED: 74 Miles
DEPARTED: 83% 19:52 (16min stop)
COST: €7.77

JOURNEY END

We arrived at 21:52, 4 mins ahead of the time the Tesla told us we would arrive when we started the trip 12 hours before. Not bad estimation!

We arrived with 47% remaining, so knew I have plenty for the return.

So lovely to see family for a few days. I went walking with my Auntie each morning to see some lovely sunrises. The sunsets from my Uncles garden are stunning, and we also had a bit of fun doing photo shoot with the Basic, the Classic and the Modern cars. Lots of lovely food, couple glasses of wine and enjoyed the late autumn sunshine.

THE RETURN JOURNEY

The route back, whilst we took a slightly different route to start with, missing out the twisting back roads, but it was even easier than the route down. My confidence in the car, the charging network and the roads meant we were able to get back to Calais in just over 10 hours.

At Le Mans we used the other super charger station, which looks brand new and I was able to get 247KW of charging power. adding nearly 1,000 miles per hour into the battery! (See photos above)

This time the Flexiplus lounge at Calais DOES have a supercharger, so we enjoyed a nice sandwich and coffee in the lounge before coming back home.

And got home with a quarter of the battery left.

OUTBOUND TRIP SUMMARY

TIME LOCATION MILEAGE
(Batt used)
BATTERY COST
(Time spent Charging Mins)
06:00 Chelmsford 0 89% n/a
10:11 – 10:28 Calais 95 (46%) 43% – 81% €11:31 (17)
12:40 – 13:07 Rouen 137 (67%) 14% – 82% €18.34 (33)
14:55 – 15:27 Le Mans 124 (63%) 19% – 86% €18.27 (32)
17:58 – 18:24 Poitiers 123 (56%) 30% – 85% €14.60 (26)
19:36 – 19:52 Angouleme 74 (33%) 52% – 83% €7.77 (26)
21:52 Duras 92 (36%) 47%
TOTALS 645 Miles 220KWH €70.29

RETURN TRIP SUMMARY

TIME LOCATION MILEAGE
(Batt used)
BATTERY COST
(Time sharing in Min)
07:42 Duras 0 96% n/a
10:09 – 10:38 Niort 155 (85%) 11% – 83% €22.39 (29)
11:19 – 11:29 Poitiers 48 (29%) 54% – 75% €5.67 (10)
13:08 – 13:42 Le Mans 123 (62%) 13% – 88% €21.98 (34)
15:17 – 15:40 Rouen 122 (68%) 20% – 79% €17.05 (23)
18.00 – 18:25 EuroStar 135 (67%) 12% – 65% €15.60 (25)
19:58 (BST) Chelmsford 91 (40%) 25%
TOTALS 674 Miles 263KWH €82.69

FINAL THOUGHTS

So, as always travelling to France to see my family is always amazing. This time it was even more special as it was the first “long” journey requiring multiple charging stops in my car. I can say I enjoyed every moment of it, after the first charge hicup at Folkstone, we didn’t have any issues, worries or panics with range. The car drove itself on FSD(Full Self Drive) most of the way, and pretty much 99% of all the motorway driving.

On the way back I guess I was even more confident and pressed on a little harder than on the way down, which is reflected in the EV equivalent of MPG.

On the way out I managed 2.93 miles per kWh of electricity (341 Wh/Mile)
On the return journey, it was 2.56 miles per kWh of electricity (390 Wh/Mile)

Now, these are pretty terrible in terms of efficiency as if you drive like a saint and stick to a max of 56 MPH you can pretty much half the consumption, just the same as driving a petrol/diesel car. But who wants to drive at that speed, the journey would take almost 50% longer!

Ok, so the costs. Again the speed at which you drive is the biggest influence on the cost per mile both in ev and in a fossil fuel car. Also using the Super Chargers is 6-7 times more expensive than when I can charge overnight at home using cheap electric. (i paid just 5p kWh) But that said, driving the EV long distance is still cheaper (slightly) than driving a fossil fuel car. Again had I driven bit more economically then I would have had an even bigger saving.

One thing I can now safely say, is the battery range is far greater than my human bodies range for needing the services! and charging is not a chore, nor does it impede your progress on a longer journey.

Would I do it again, absolutely and in fact would now like to try some other European trips to visit some places I have not been to before. I certainly won’t be flying!

So to answer the question I started with, can you comfortably drive the length of France in an EV.

Yes, without question it’s not only possible but enjoyably easy.

Comments(4)

  1. REPLY
    comment Auntie Roz says

    Hi Andrew , Unc hasn’t seen this yet , but I havé read it all …..fascinating and Surely useful info for anyone else under taking this type or trip …it was lively to see you both ….hope the fabulous pictures encourage some more EV drivers to come down our way .
    Bises et à bientôt

    • REPLY
      comment Andrew says

      Ros,

      Have you seen, Jon Ellis said hi after seeing the article online.

      Love, Andrew

  2. REPLY
    comment Jon Ellis says

    Living in the south west of France for many years I’ve met Quentin a few times on social occasions and follow him on Twitter. I read your post as I was toying with an electric car recently. A good article but imagine my surprise when in the photos I saw my old boss and very good friends Alan & Ros. Nice article by the way ( I’ll get an electric car next time around, I’m enjoying my Aston Martin too much at the moment)

    • REPLY
      comment Andrew says

      Goodness! Jon Ellis

      That is a name I remember from my childhood visits to the south of France.. Wonderful to hear from you and hope you are all well. Thanks for the comments.
      Andrew

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