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Fully electric roadtrip into the Alps

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Knight Rider experience

As a kid I thought KITT was the coolest thing out there. David Hasselhofs self driving car in the Knight Rider, every little boys dream. That badass, curvy, all black car with that red light going back and forth was the very first self driving car I ever saw. Those were the ’80s, today in 2019 I got to experience my own Knight rider moment, test driving the Nissan LEAF to the Swiss Alps and back. Where ‘the Hof’ had a full dialogue with his car, I got as far as a monologue. This means: my phone was connected to the car, this way I could voice activate the navigation and make it guide me to the exact adres where I wanted to lay myself down on a hotel mattress that evening.

The future is electric

The nearby future for cars seems to be electric with every car brand in the world investing heavy in their production of electric models. For the Netherlands this means that plug-in hybrids and fully electric cars on the road went up 5 times between 2014 and 2019. Fully electric cars actually doubled in the year 2018 in the Netherlands. The world is electrifying, which combined with more and more green energy supply from renewable sources, is a great step forward for our climate. This increasing number of electric cars on the Dutch roads are mainly bought by businesspeople using it for their home-office daily commute. For these people the still limited range on the electric cars isn’t a problem, but how about the longer holiday drives? With all the discussions on the need for less traveling by plane and the transition to fully electric driving, I was very curious to experience how these longer travels with an electric car look like.

So how does this work?

Picking up our fully charged Nissan LEAF E+ at the Nissan office in Amsterdam we’ve been told again ‘make sure to not forget to stay on a 100km/h exact, or the battery will go down quick!’. – Sure, right, won’t be that bad, right? is what we thought while taking off driving a comfortable 125 km/h. Of course being super aware of our battery status on our first long distance electric trip, we actually got shocked by the dramatically dropping battery on this speed. We had to stop way faster then expected. An unhappy lesson on patience. ‘Slowtravel’ is the word, practicing mindfulness on your journey. We made our trip down to Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland in a two day road trip. After being convinced of driving a steady 100km/h we were just cruising along from charging spot to charging spot. If planned well, you can easily drive about 250-300 kilometers with your battery going down from somewhere between 90-100% to 10-20%. We were surprised by how short a 40 minute charging stop actually is; restroom visit, a quick lunch and a cup of coffee and you’re back on the road again. There are multiple apps you can use to find all charging stations throughout Europe, we mainly used Plugshare, that very accurately showed what kind of chargers and how many there were on the different stations. We did ran into some charging stations not working at all, not working until we called with a service number or having troubles starting up our charge. I guess the hard part is that the service on the charging stations isn’t as good as on for example a gasstation because there is nobody around to help out, only by phone.

The many fun sides of driving electric 

  • You actually feel part of the coming change, to know that you’re driving without putting any CO2 in the air is amazing!
  • To see your battery % actually going up while driving down a mountain is super satisfying!
  • people always come up to you while you’re charging ‘Sooo, how does this electric charging work? how do you like it? etc’
  • Once you settle in on the lower cruising speeds on the highway, accepting the fact that you actually aren’t in a hurry at all, this way of traveling is very relaxed and comfortable.

In the coming years the cars on our highways will change rapidly and I cant wait for them to all turn electric.