In the eighth instalment in a series of columns focusing on electric vehicles, Daniel Butler-Hawkes, Energy Solutions Officer at Jersey Electricity, shares some tips for anyone planning to drive an EV abroad
IF you are planning a festive escape this month, there is a good chance that the lead-up to Christmas will be even more fraught than usual, as you attempt to tick everything off your to-do list before heading to the Airport or Harbour.
Whether you are visiting family in the UK or Europe or just getting away from the routine of day-to-day life, there is a good chance that, if you are planning to take your car abroad, your holiday preparations involve loading the boot, checking the tyre pressures and making sure you have a full tank of petrol.
Or, if you have an EV, making sure that your car is fully charged before you set off.
As well as checking your vehicle’s charge, though, there are many other steps which I would recommend taking before driving your car onto Condor’s vehicle deck.
Those of us who remember driving holidays before the days of sat-navs will no doubt recall days spent poring over a map, plotting routes and finding restaurants, cafés and service stations along the way.
I would suggest reliving some of this planning when driving an EV in the UK and abroad, taking advantage of the many websites and apps which enable you to draw up a route based on your vehicle’s range and the location of charging stations.
One of the websites I have used is Zap Map, which features a handy route planner showing you the positions of more than 35,000 charging points across the UK. Just as you would if you were using your sat-nav, you enter your start and end destinations into the planner, and the website will plot your route for you.
Some EVs come with in-built navigation features. The new Renault Mégane, for example, comes with a Google route planner. If you enter your destination into this tool, it will calculate, based on your vehicle’s range, how far you can travel before needing to recharge the battery, map the charging points for you and also tell you how long you will need to connect to the charger before continuing with your journey.
While the infrastructure on different networks will vary, many of the charge points are rapid chargers so you can recharge the battery while enjoying a meal or snack. Do be aware, though, that prices are often higher in the UK than they are here. Rapid chargers in the UK can cost up to £1/kw hour, whereas in Jersey the maximum price is 25p/kw hour (at the time of print). Taking that into account, I would recommend charging the battery fully before you set off.
Whether you are driving in the UK or in Europe, you will find that most charge points have charging cables attached to them so you can select the cable which suits your vehicle. While I would recommend doing your research before you go, it is unlikely, given the cable options, that you will need to take an adaptor with you.
From my own experience, I would not hesitate to take my EV abroad, or to hire an EV while away, but it is worth taking that nostalgic approach to holiday planning, researching your route and downloading one or two route-planning apps before you set off.