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So, I drove my i3s BEV to Munich and back. I have friends out there and decided to try it for no better reason than to see how I got on and with no commitments if I failed and had to turn back!

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I’ve had disastrous 150mile journeys in the UK so I was more than slightly nervous. I spent hours planning - I had a plan A, B and usually even a C for every stop. I even bought a 3 phase cable for 11kw charging emergencies. I almost bottled it the day before and took the ICE.

But in the end every plan A worked out! The infrastructure in Belgium and Germany feels years ahead of the UK. I was so relaxed by half way I stopped caring about economy and increased speed. I’m normally glued to the trip computer and monitoring consumption, but I switched it off the main display, and not once did I worry pulling into a service station whether I would have an issue.

I have a NewMotion card and did all my journey planning on their map aiming to stop at locations with multiple chargers for redundancy. They worked everywhere I tried. The fact that you can roam is brilliant, there’s no worrying which network the charger is on just filter for CCS and off you go. I used EnBW, Allego, a no name charger in Munich, Luminious? All worked with the card with one exception I’ll include later. I also took a Plugsurfing RFID with me as a backup and that worked when I tested it but generally I relied on the Newmotion card.

Belgium - these have individual triple headed chargers roughly very 50km run by Allego. Every one we tried was in perfect working order and delivering 50kw. They’re located away from pedestrian entrances so rarely blocked and have long cables so I could park nose in even with a rear socket. Some were located in carpool car parking which was completely full - but people still respected the charger bays and none were ICE’d (or maybe they’re hot on ticketing! Whatever it is it works). Initially we stopped every 80km just to be safe for a 10-15min splash and dash. They’re all yards from the motorway so you lose so little time jumping off and on. I used the NewMotion card but these are run exactly the same as the Allego chargers at Shell stations in the UK and are therefore accessible using the Smoov app.

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Germany - firstly forget Chademo they’ve gone all in on CCS. Some sites didn’t have any charging provision beyond CCS with others having 4 CCS chargers with perhaps one of them also being equipped with Chademo. Lots of 22kw AC sockets but not many tethered so bring your own cable. They’ve built quite a few clusters of chargers with 4+ machines. Every single one I tried worked perfectly. As they’re clustered in hubs you really can rely on them - I was starting to get a bit cocky and arriving very low. Interestingly quite a few are also co-located with Tesla superchargers.

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Generally, in all instances they’re 30min stops only. Especially in Belgium where the tariff increases to introduce a punitive per minute rate after this to disincentivise charger hogging. After 30mins I was generally at 85-90% so I never stayed longer. Larger battery cars when they roll out will have an issue with this if they don’t change.

Every charger I came across (except Ionity) was setup and supported charging two cars at the same time on AC and DC. So, if a location had been full full, I could’ve got 11kw until a DC socket became available.

Special shout out to Ionity - 350kw CCS 6 bay charger. When they build this network out it’ll be amazing. It was very user friendly and they looked equipped to take contactless when the free vend period expires. It’s obvious they’ve put a lot of thought into the user experience with a very clear interface, but again CCS only. The cabinets behind these were absolutely huge so there must be significant work in getting these installed at each site. I can’t see them achieving their roll out targets but if they do it’ll be amazing for CCS vehicles.

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On the way down, I had absolutely no issues over the 650miles. Very happy. Door to door it took just over 14 hours. That’s from the tyres hitting Calais off the eurotunnel to our destination in Munich. Generally driving at 110km/h (68mph) and charging 30-90%. Below 30% the voltage drop means the charge wasn’t full speed and as soon as the charge started tapering at the top end I would leave. I either wanted 46kw+ or my wheels moving.

Destination charging in Munich wasn’t a problem. They have 22kw 3 phase everywhere. Job jobbed. The only broken CCS charger I came across was outside BMW World (you couldn’t make it up!)


On the way back I had two minor hiccups:

Firstly, we arrived at one charging hub in Germany and our card wasn’t recognised - “card not authorised”. Both NewMotion and plugsurfing. The strange thing was I used the exact charger on the way down with no issues. We had a few options - drive to the next charger 18km away (dual CCS and I had the range), call NewMotion on their 24/7 helpline, call the helpline on the charger (luckily my partner speaks German) or download the German app which was advertised on the side of the machine. I was scratching my head trying to decide the quickest course of action when a chap supercharging his Tesla wandered over. We explained our dilemma and he pulled out a pile of charging cards an inch thick and swiped one - bingo we were charging. Very nice of him and he turned down any payment. He had covered 50k or something in his Tesla in 18months and was very entertained by the prospect of our trip. Anyway, we were grateful for the EV camaraderie and only lost 5mins. The benefit of this multi-platform charging station approach is higher footfall when you have an issue it seems. Regardless, we would have been fine, but we really appreciated his help to keep things moving quickly.

Next, we got stuck in a huge tailback caused by an accident. This happened twice. In 2 hours we covered 50km and we lost about 4 hours in total between all the incidents encountered. Now this is completely unrelated to the car. However - the satnav kept suggesting diversions which we couldn’t take as the charger we needed was in the middle of the queue! So we were stuck. We got there in the end, didn’t have any charging issues at the stop, but we definitely lost flexibility which cost us time.

It’s a shame we had traffic issues as otherwise we were on track to knock a couple of hours off our last journey time now I was more practiced and confident. I can generally do the journey in c.10hours in an ICE and it took just over 14 hours in the i3 and a bit longer with the traffic on the way back.

I’ll probably take the ICE next time to save a few hours but I’m glad I gave it a go! I wouldn’t hesitate to drive it abroad again but maybe a closer destination next time. Glad we’ve proved it possible and not once did we have any concerns about charging. The one downside is I’m now dreading my next long trip here now I’ve seen how good it can be!

I’ll do a follow up on cost when all the statements come in. But expect it won’t be cheaper than petrol as the pricing on the chargers/map seemed much higher than the UK – €0.4EUR/min or €0.68 a kwh on some chargers. I’m sure this will split opinions but in general I don’t mind paying a premium for on the road charging when it’s this fast and reliable.

This trip was only possible as the i3 charges like an absolute beast. The only time I’ve seen reduced speeds is with a cold battery. On the long run I always got 46kw+ as long as the charger could provide it. This is despite 28C outside temperatures, being the 5th+ rapid charge of the day or even the most extreme case on this trip after a sustained top speed run, coasting off the motorway with reduced power into the services, and plugging in to immediately get 46kw. It always delivers. The point at which the charging rate starts tapering off is also very high, I don’t notice anything until 88-90%. Up to that it’ll still be putting 48kw and this enables very brief stops on long runs.


5k miles on my 2 month old i3s now. Ideas for the next challenge on a postcard!
 

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Thank you so much for that report. It is true that we have a lot of catching up to do here in the UK. I do hope Instavolt's free charging in May pays off for them as, whilst they are certainly not the cheapest at 35p/Kwh they are fast and very easy to use.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you so much for that report. It is true that we have a lot of catching up to do here in the UK. I do hope Instavolt's free charging in May pays off for them as, whilst they are certainly not the cheapest at 35p/Kwh they are fast and very easy to use.
Indeed, multiple reliable units at each location are definitely the way forward! Instavolt seem the most promising at the moment and at the speed they’re rolling out it might not take too long. Just wish we didn’t have a monopoly situation at the MSAs. It was so much quicker charging at service stations rather than hunting down random hotels with a single charger.
 

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Even though I don't have a 'proper' EV, I found that really interesting. I assume this would not be possible in the UK (I have only ever charged at home). A question - what's the i3's range driven as on this trip?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Even though I don't have a 'proper' EV, I found that really interesting. I assume this would not be possible in the UK (I have only ever charged at home). A question - what's the i3's range driven as on this trip?
It would definitely be more difficult in the UK and take longer, especially for a CCS equipped car. You’d get there eventually though. The main difference was multiple chargers in one location and all the equipment was fast. It’s also reassuring to know even if the machine was in use you could still get AC at 11kw.

A 90mile stretch would leave about 15-20% in the battery as a reserve in case there was any charger issues. You’d get just over 100miles in warm conditions at 70mph. 120 if you cut the speed to 60mph.
 

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Very interesting, thankyou, and yes love to hear a story of someone German or Benelux resident doing a trip to the Lake District & back, and what their experience was !!!
 

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Well the germans may have a better charging network but they burn coal so their EVs are less green than ours.
 

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CTiD
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Thank you so much for that report. It is true that we have a lot of catching up to do here in the UK. I do hope Instavolt's free charging in May pays off for them as, whilst they are certainly not the cheapest at 35p/Kwh they are fast and very easy to use.
we are way behind Germany in particular for all aspects of driving, roads, lane discipline, the lot

The report therefore was great to read but as a nation I don't think we'll ever catch up in terms of infrastructure nor (critically) attitude... we're beyond help IMHO
 

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Thank you so much for that report. It is true that we have a lot of catching up to do here in the UK. I do hope Instavolt's free charging in May pays off for them as, whilst they are certainly not the cheapest at 35p/Kwh they are fast and very easy to use.
No A.C. charging on instavolts though, so excludes a lot of EV drivers :mad:
 

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EGGY
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Italy ? I have in laws in Genoa, there's a big gap from the mont blanc tunnel charger down to the coast with some patchy offerings in Aosta, keep thinking of doing it but don't have the time at the moment
 

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Hi,
A great read thanks for posting.
I don’t have an EV yet (it’s on order) but when it arrives I’m planning to post my experiences.
@Gladin I’m planning a trip to the the Lake District form Germany and will post my experiences so your wish will be granted.

It is year since you posted, so hopefully you are monitoring the thread.

R.
 

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I know this is an old thread, but I have not seen it before. Regarding the OP @Mtcm and the statement that one should forget CHAdeMO in Germany, I just looked on PlugShare with the CHAdeMO filter on, and there appear to be loads of them.
 

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Hi,
A great read thanks for posting.
I don’t have an EV yet (it’s on order) but when it arrives I’m planning to post my experiences.
@Gladin I’m planning a trip to the the Lake District form Germany and will post my experiences so your wish will be granted.

It is year since you posted, so hopefully you are monitoring the thread.

R.
Not many chargers in the lake District yet! I live here☺
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I know this is an old thread, but I have not seen it before. Regarding the OP @Mtcm and the statement that one should forget CHAdeMO in Germany, I just looked on PlugShare with the CHAdeMO filter on, and there appear to be loads of them.
Now filter for CCS to compare.

When you're pulling into a charger with 4x CCS plugs and one Chademo it's clear which is the preferred standard. The Chademo was far more likely to be in use or broken. Ionity have also built up their network significantly since this thread/journey. I could do the same route today exclusively on ionity with no issues and they don't have a single Chademo in sight.

Having said that, all my trips abroad since have been in the ICE as this was an early adopter experiment, so I don't know how much the situation has improved. At the time I took this journey though I wouldnt have made it in a comparable Chademo car that's for sure.a
 

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At the time I took this journey though I wouldnt have made it in a comparable Chademo car that's for sure
I'm sure you're not suggesting that all those CHAdeMO chargers I saw in every corner of Germany have been installed in the past year. If anything, and because of the dominance of CCS on the mainland, I would have expected there to be more, not fewer, when you travelled.

I can understand them falling into disrepair, though, as you say, but I don't know how widespread that is.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
But that’s not the point - it’s the ratio. This wasn’t a 200 mile jaunt which needed one rapid charge which is often the case in the UK. In this case you can rely on solitary charges without much issue. Someone else using it? Wait 20mins or so. Broken? Crawl to a plan B and hope that isn’t in use. Overall journey time isn’t horrifically impacted. You just can’t travel in the same way when you’re doing 650miles in a day. Waiting for even two charges or finding two broken would have scuppered the entire journey as you can’t have delay after delay.

The only way it’s possible to do such a journey in a short range car is in hubs. Turn up to 4x chargers. Oh there’s a Leaf on the single Chademo, no worries, I’ll use any of the other 3 CCS. Next hub, oh that one looks like it might be out of service. I won’t even try it I’ll just plug into another etc.

When I did my journey back in May 18 I barely saw any multiple charging in sites with Chademo. Whilst almost every stop had multiple CCS. This means I could push the limit and turn up with a very low battery and maximise the distance between legs and not run into any issues.

The UK is getting better. We now have engenie, instavolt who only install chargers in multiples. Ionity. Polar have started the odd hub. It’s less and less likely you need to rely on single chargers.

I’m not saying it’s impossible in Chademo, but it would require far more planning and be more stressful. With single points of failure. If I go abroad again I’d just hit Ionity after Ionity for their CCS only hubs.
 
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