During a balmy European summer, Chargetrip’s co-founder and CCO Pieter Waller took his trusted electric car for a road trip across the continent. His adventure makes for a compelling retelling and a handy guide for others contemplating taking their EVs onto the highways and byways of extended travel. Buckle up!
With a sailing boat awaiting their arrival on the glittering barbs of the Croatian shore, Pieter, his wife Marissa and their two kids Xavier and Frithjof packed their Polestar EV, left Amsterdam, and headed to Murter, Croatia.
It was July 21st, peak travel season, and to get to their destination Pieter faced a daunting drive across the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, and part of Croatia. Sure they could have flown, but the advantage of owning an EV (in theory) was extensive road trips such as these would save a fortune compared to other types of commercial transport and is much greener. It was time to put the theory to the test. To split the 1700km trip, there was a 5-day stopover in Altaussee, Austria, and a two-day stopover on the return leg in Slovenia.
The preparation for the trip
Planning is the key to any successful road trip and Pieter was meticulous in his preparation. These were the crucial 5 factors that made the trip a success:
He checked the route options with Google Maps before leaving to get an idea of the best ways to get to his final destination
He cross-referenced these with the Chargetrip Go web application to discover whether such a long journey was possible with an electric car due to the availability of charge stations.
Unfortunately, the Google navigation system installed on the Polestar couldn’t compute a route. So he planned using Chargetrip Go and noted what operators he would have to charge at.
After this, they downloaded the Elen app. Elen operates a network of free public chargers in Croatia. For the other countries, they used the Plugsurfing app.
In remote areas, they booked hotels with EV chargers, though this restricted the options for accommodation.
On the road
Traffic was an issue, as expected during peak season. This, coupled with flooding that had occurred in Germany a few days before, and the subsequent maintenance work, extended their travel time.
The good news was that, despite the jam-packed roads, Pieter and his family only had to wait for an available charging stations twice. And that was for only 5 minutes on each occasion.
It was particularly frustrating for Pieter and Marissa to see nonelectric cars using charging spaces for parking. However, a friendly word in their owner’s ear did the trick. No one gave Pieter and Marissa a hard time. The only problem they encountered with a charge station was in rural Germany when the charger was unable to start the session. Luckily they still had 30% battery and found an alternative fast charge location.
Pieter always tried to use ultra-fast charger, as the Polestar can charge up to 150kwh, up to a certain battery level (see our article about the charging curve).
Generally speaking, Pieter and Marissa were pleasantly surprised with the relative ease of driving 1700km across 5 countries in an electric vehicle. In fact, the itinerary of planned charging stops made for a more enjoyable and relaxed drive than with an ICE car.
Their final destination made the journey worthwhile. “Croatia itself was wonderful,” stated Marissa “Charging was free and charge points were widely available (we always had 4 points to choose from). On top of that, in the Netherlands it rains a lot, whereas in Croatia you can relax and charge in the gorgeous sunshine.”
Tips for other EV drivers:
Research what fast charger operators exist in each country where you will drive.
Make sure you get a charge pass that gives you the largest coverage across all the countries you’re driving through.
Pack cards, books and toys - anything you need to entertain yourself, or the friends and family you’re traveling with. It’ll make the charging go faster!
Enjoy your electric road trip!