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An 1800km road trip through Europe in a Tesla Model S
Posted on August 15, 2016 by Matt Pressman
Guest Blog Post: Marc Baier has been into gadgets and tech ever since he got his first Commodore VC 20, yes — the one with the tape recorder storage. Fast forward to June 2015, he took delivery of his Tesla Model S 85D which he nicknames the "blue arrow" and has driven 20,000+ very happy kilometers. You can read about his Tesla adventures on his blog, My Tesla Model S 85D.
Earlier this month we went on our first big Tesla road trip using only superchargers. One way was roughly 800 kms / 560 miles. The Tesla navigation software gave us a route with a total of three stops. We were a little worried that the remaining 14% battery would be cutting it a little too close but went ahead knowing that we could always stop at another supercharger before reaching the Hirschberg charger. So off we went onto the Swiss and then German Autobahn.
Top: So many Teslas at our stop in Amsterdam; Bottom right: The whole route going from Mägenwil, Switzerland to the island of Texel in the Netherlands; Bottom left: The proposed supercharger route up to our short stop in Deventer, Netherlands
230 kms per hour on the Autobahn
And yes, we did kick the car up to 230kms an hour / 142 miles per hour for roughly 2-3 minutes. We could have gone even faster but my wife kept grabbing my leg until I felt my circulation stop so I had to ease off the accelerator. Even with this exessive short interlude, we arrived at the Hirscherg Supercharger with 19% of battery remaining, and here's the picture to prove it.
Left: Ha! With excellent driving skills we managed to save 5% of battery; Right: Before we knew it, the app already reminded us that it was time to leave again
So off we went to the local McDonalds to stretch our legs. This particular supercharger was almost empty with just one other Tesla Model S charging. We decided to charge a little more than necessary, just to be on the safe side. We are Swiss after all. This first experience with the Tesla trip planner showed that it seems to calculate rather conservatively, which is not necessarily a bad thing. I'd rather end up with more charge in the tank than anticipated than the other way around.
Above: The "Blue Arrow" at a German Supercharger
Great infrastructure at mostly empty Tesla Superchargers
All of the Supercharges we visited were situated at an "Autohof" location which usually includes one or two fast food restaurants (McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, etc.) a regular gas station as well as a small grocery store connected to the gas station. The next leg to the Mogendorf charger also had us arrive with 8% more charge remaining then the trip planner had anticipated. This supercharger station was also pretty empty with just another Tesla charging. On the way back, this supercharger station was busier though.
Above: Although quiet on the way up, the Mogendorf Supercharger was almost full on the way back down south
A Model X and charging etiquette
This quickly changed when we got close to the Netherlands. The Netherlands have excellent tax return conditions (of which Switzerland mostly has none) for EVs and it truly shows when you drive on dutch roads. The charger at Zevenaar was half full. And all of the drivers seemed to know about the A and B pillar rule — as long as an A pillar is free, you should use that one instead of charging at someone's B pillar. And while we were charging between three other dutch cars, a German Model X showed up — followed by a lot of "ooohhhsss" and "aaaaaahhhs" from everyone.
Above: A pillars full and all B pillars empty at the Zevenaar charger; Below: the surprising visit by a brand new Model X
Wind turbines everywhere
One other thing you'll notice is that a large amount of wind turbines are installed along the freeway in Germany as well as the Netherlands. We also saw many of them on the island. You don't really get a feeling of how huge these things are until you are standing right underneath one. So you're sitting in your Tesla driving down the Autobahn that is flanked by rows and rows of wind turbines — it made me feel like I'm living the future.
Above: One of many wind turbines in the Netherlands, this one was a smaller one on the Island of Texel; the low "swooosh swooosh" of the blades was rather soothing
As many Teslas as the eye can see
The next day we continued our trip up north and stopped at the supercharger in Amsterdam. This turned out to be a rather large Service Center with huge offices. I think it is the European Headquarters of Tesla. I've never seen so many Teslas in one place, as the pictures show. The huge Tesla lettering also looked rather impressive.
Above: The kids where checking out the other cars deciding which one they liked best
Great charging infrastructure in the Netherlands
On the island itself they had many public charging stations to choose from. They were all easily accessible using my "TheNewMotion" charge card, which I had organized way ahead of our trip. It all worked flawlessly and the instructions on the charge points where easy to follow. Unfortunately, the resort did not allow us to charge our car using the regular outlet of our bungalow. One night a very polite and slightly embarrassed security guard knocked on our door and apologized that their own charge points were not ready yet and charging directly from the bungalows main power was not allowed. With all the great charging options on the island this was not a big issue for us after all.
Above: Charging at one of the many public charge stations
Looking forward to our next road trip
So, all in all, we drove more than 1800 kms round trip using only Tesla superchargers with the occasional public quick charger in the Netherlands. Everything worked as planned and we feel very comfortable going on future road trips. Thank you Elon Musk for setting up this incredible international network of charging infrastructure!