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Traveling to Switzerland, a member story
Posted by Bernie and David Kavanagh
Tullamore to St.Moritz, and back! The experiences of novice BEV owners.
Our trip to Switzerland was unremarkable in that this is a holiday that we have enjoyed on many occasions over the past twenty years. Whereas our previous journeys were diesel- powered, the novelty this time was that it was our first long trip in a BEV. In total, we covered 3,359 km door to door. It was a very pleasant experience and none of our fears were realised. This article is an account of our experience and an insight into the pre-planning process. We hope it may be of interest to other BEV owners – experienced and not-so experienced.
Circumstances meant we had only two weeks for our trip. We spent three nights at each of two destinations in the Graubunden region of Switzerland. Our route was from Tullamore to Ringaskiddy, Cork, then Brittany Ferries to Roscoff, France. From Roscoff we travelled east, stopping overnight at Laval, Morntargis, and Burnhaupt le Haut on the outward leg before entering Switzerland at Basel. The return leg had stops in Besancon, Chateaudun, and Roscoff. The transit journeys across France, and to and from the Graubunden in Switzerland, were made primarily on motorways.
Overview of the route from Tullamore to St. Moritz.
We had two basic principles for our trip:
- This was a holiday, so no need for maximum road speed. 110 kph was our chosen maximum on French motorways. This was fast enough to help us feel we were making sufficient progress, and yet not so fast as to deplete our car’s range.
- ABC – Always Be Charging – was our maxim. This meant we adopted a conservative approach to planning our charging stops. In the main, the car operated in the 40 to 80% state of charge (SOC) range.
Planning for our trip was straightforward. We are experienced travellers throughout Europe and in many ways, preparing for taking our BEV was like taking our old motorhome to Europe. Both vehicles travel a little slower than other private vehicles, and both require dedicated facilities along the route. Our holiday locations in Switzerland were selected during Covid lockdown and were set in stone given we were anxious to return to the landscape we enjoy so much. The journey to and from these areas was just a matter of joining the dots!
All roads lead to Paris or so it seems when you search for a route from Roscoff, France, to St.Moritz, Switzerland. It has always been our preference to avoid the greater Paris area given the challenging motoring environment it presents. This meant that we had to tailor our selections in ViaMichelin.com and A Better Route Planner (abrp.com). The former allowed more scope for a route that suited our needs, while the latter focused on the charging options for our car. It was clear at the outset that in some areas we could not take our traditional route because ABRP indicated the absence of suitable charging options on certain routes. This was very valuable data and vital for the success of our holiday.
The charging experience was excellent throughout the trip. We availed of charging stations at various locations – shopping centres, local businesses, and motorway services. The photos accompanying this piece illustrate the range of charging stations available across France and Switzerland.
Lidl, Morlaix, 50 kW and 120 kW available 24 hours, 7 days per week.
Intermarché at Broons, note the Solar PV roof covering the carpark at the front of the supermarket. Chargers operated by Powerdot 120 kW.
Impressive array of chargers at the Total Energies station of the Aire d’Alsace Sud, on the A36 between Belfort and Mulhouse. Charging speeds of 350, 150 & 50 kW available.
Tranquil setting for this ECS at Landi (chain of Garden/DIY stores), Thusis, Switzerland.
The universal symbol for charging stations. We christened it the “mouse” and it can sometimes be as elusive especially when entering motorway service areas. Vigilance is required to navigate the internal road layouts to safely locate the chargers. In some cases, the location of chargers was evidently an afterthought, but most units are in dedicated positions and there is plenty of evidence that increased capacity has commenced or is planned.
Value for money is to be found in locations such as Lidl with unit prices from 27.5 cents. Ionity rapid chargers are readily available at 73 to 75 cents per unit. The challenge for BEV drivers is the array of charging providers and the myriad of mobile applications and service providers. There was a marked difference in the unit price offered by different providers at the same location. It pays to shop around. We averaged 66 cents per kWh at May 2023 prices.
In France, there was plenty of evidence that new facilities are rolling out at Aires on motorways. Payment by debit/credit card is possible without the need for an app or RFID card. This is the Engie ECS at Aire de Venoy-Chablis, A6 northwards near Auxerre. Note payment by credit/debit card and the keen prices!
This article is not meant as a review of the performance of our make and model of BEV. However, its general performance may be of interest. We were driving a 2023 model Hyundai Ioniq 5, 58 kWh, standard range model. The WLTP range is given as 384 km, but the real- world figure is closer to 300 km. This held true for our trip of 3, 359 km. The vehicle consumed 609 kWh, giving 18 kWh/100 km average efficiency. We enjoyed fine weather for most of the trip with temperatures ranging from 13 degrees to 22 degrees Celsius. Motorway speed of 110 kph saw efficiency figures in the 22 to 24 kWh/100 km range, whereas local roads at 80 to 90 kph yielded 15 to 18 kWh/100 km. On one occasion the car recorded 0 kWh/100 km as we descended a mountain slope for 7 km! The Ioniq 5 has a maximum charging rate of 175 kWh and our experience was that it performs best on 50 kW and 120/150 kW chargers. The car draws 49 kW and 110 kW respectively on a consistent basis. On the 300 kW and higher chargers there is no discernible improvement in performance while a hefty price premium is evident.
The driving experience in France and Switzerland was excellent. Watch out for the variation in electricity costs across suppliers and charging speeds. While it is possible to use apps to charge, we found their performance was unreliable and preferred the convenience of RFID cards. We hope this article is informative and serves to illustrate the capabilities of a BEV where an effective charging infrastructure is available. We have listed some of the resources we found most useful in planning our trip. You can contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bernie and David Kavanagh
A Better Route Planner (www.abrp.com) – a mobile app to plan your EV journey. Enter your vehicle details, your destination and select plan to get a full trip plan including charge stops and trip duration.
ChargeMap (www.chargemap.com) – described as “a multi-network card giving you the very best charging experience possible, covering most charging stations across Europe.” Mobile App and RFID card to access charging. Monthly payment for charging sessions drawn from debit/credit card linked to account.
ChargeMyHyundai (www.chargemyhyundai.com) – a subscription service for Hyundai owners to access chargers across Europe – mobile app and RFID card. Monthly payment for charging sessions drawn from debit/credit card linked to account.
ChargePoint (www.chargepoint.com) – Mobile app and RFID card to give access to chargers throughout Europe.
Maingau (https://www.maingau-energie.de/e-mobilitaet/autostrom|) – Mobile app and RFID card to give access to chargers throughout Europe. Fixed price for charging – cheapest rates for Germany. Monthly payment for charging sessions drawn from debit/credit card linked to account.
Via Michelin (www.viamichelin.com) – comprehensive trip planner.