Surrey to Normandy (1,000-mile EV road trip)
Ever wanted to take a European road trip in an EV but you're feeling apprehensive? Well, think again!
In this edition of EV Driving Stories, we have Steve Scott telling us about his trip all the way from Surrey to Cricqueville en Auge, Normandy.
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In our Tesla Model 3, Long Range (May 2022), we headed from Surrey to Cricqueville en Auge in Normandy. Our aim was to use this as a base and travel around Normandy: seeing historic towns, cities, and D-Day beaches (whilst eating a lot of cheese). While descriptions of EV road trips inevitably discuss the struggle of finding chargers, the reality was that it really didn’t get in the way of our holiday. Admittedly the Model 3 Long Range is, in my opinion, the benchmark car for ease on road trips; its efficiency and decent battery aiding the ease of our journey. That said, I think we could easily have done the same trip in a mid-range car. Additionally, the Tesla’s blindspot cameras really helped whilst driving on unfamiliar roads on the right hand side, plus autopilot did a good job of easing longer sections of the journey. Whilst Tesla’s supercharger network was a reassurance, we actually didn’t use it at all.
The vast majority of charging was with slower AC chargers at convenient locations (while we were doing normal holiday things); the majority of chargers we found in car parks were where we would have stayed anyway. I’d originally ordered a Freshmiles charge card, but then discovered Octopus Electroverse has a partnership with them and charges directly through my electric bill rather than prepaying. Nowadays I’d likely use a combination of Octopus Electroverse and Chargemap (local info) to find pricing and likely serviceability.
I’d like to add, whilst I’ve mentioned the names of the charge point operators, all of them were found using the Electroverse app, and all functioned in a very similar fashion. Pop the card on the reader, the door opens, and you plug in. Tap the card on the reader again to disconnect and off you go!
We drove from Surrey to Folkstone for the Channel tunnel, having filled the car the night before using our Octopus Go registered home charger. The service area at the tunnel has both a free 50kWh rapid charger, and a “Open to all” bank of Superchargers. We hooked up to the free charger for a short while, as the battery was largely full and wouldn’t have benefitted from the faster superchargers. We were on the next train, so we weren’t there for long.
Once we were over the Channel, the next stop was at a supermarket in Reuen, as it’s frowned upon to take food across the border these days. I found a Leclerc and as it turned out it had twelve AC charging bays and one Siplec 50 kWh DC rapid which was handily empty. We came back to a 95% charged car with a trolley full of wine, cheese and yummy bits! No need to stop at the Supercharger a little further along.
Our Airbnb host was happy for us to charge using the granny charger (otherwise known as a portable, domestic charger). It was a little bit of a shame I only had a EU-UK adaptor from Tough Leads, and was limited to 10 kWh rather than 13. In any case, this was good for about 100 miles of range overnight.
We headed to Honfleur, enjoyed the markets, went to an art museum at Le Havre and headed to Rouen to do the usual touristy things. There were a decent number of AC chargers in the municipality (such as Metropole Rouen) - in convenient locations, but they were rather busy at the weekend. Given the decent charge the day before, there was no desperate rush for charging.
Off round the coast to see D-Day beaches. The chargers were busy again, but we stopped at a spot in Langrune-sur-Mer with a beach, an empty SDEC AC charger and picnic benches. A tap of the Electrocard and another 75 miles range in the car while eating cheese and having a walk on the beach. Easy!
Our fourth day was a lighter day, as we headed to Beuvron-en-Auge. Unfortunately a broken SDEC charger, but when the chargers are plentiful, it’s less of an issue. Next stop Camembert, where we were able to charge with Territoire D’energie. We had a picnic in the lovely countryside and wandered around a museum; another 100 miles in the battery, and all while we were doing things we would have done anyway.
We said goodbye to our bnb, and headed to Les Jardins de Claude Monet in Giverny. There was a decent size bank of Siege AC chargers, which gave us more than enough charge to make it to Villa Savoye and then our hotel for the night. We’d picked the hotel (Hôtel de la Tabletterie) as it looked like a nice hotel, with food and AC chargers. We plugged in for a full overnight charge.
Back to the UK via Boulogne-sur-Mer to grab some pastry, bread and cheese. One of the most convenient car parks had a pair of Pass-pass chargers, and, with a little charge there, it was more than enough to get back home, plug in and enjoy a cheap overnight recharge on Octopus Go.
How far did you travel and how long did it take you?
Approximately 1000 miles and 18 hours.
How much were your charging expenses?
Electric in France is generally cheaper than in the UK. Some of the chargers didn’t seem to pass costs along, so I think overall it was less than £35.
How did you utilise Octopus Electroverse?
Firstly, Octopus Electroverse provides an RFID card (Electrocard) which is helpfully widely accepted. App-based activation didn’t seem to be an option for most of the municipal chargers in France.
Also, Electroverse is the only network I’m aware of that provides free RFID cards, doesn’t charge large admin fees and doesn’t require a prepaid account.
Do you feel confident on long trips in an EV? Do you have any other trips planned?
The trip was pretty easy, we didn’t have to sit in the car waiting. All of the charging happened in places we’d likely have been anyway. The energy was cheap, and the chargers seemed to be about as reliable as the UK. Hotels with charge points were helpful, and the French seem a little ahead of the UK in terms of destination chargers.
We are planning further trips - the South of France and possibly Norway. Those will no doubt involve more stops at service stations for rapid charges.
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