Electric to IFA - Special Coverage
Travelling to the IFA Trade show in Berlin by only Electric Means
Your Software Solution is our Passion
Chapter 7 Day 3- Berlin or bust
Today's leg of 255 miles would equal the last two combined.
I wasn't sure we were ready for that length of drive particularly as the traffic map showed a lot of red on the way to Berlin. It looked like we would be in for a long haul.
On the other hand the car was freshly fully charged overnight and ready to go. It did tell us off for charging more than needed regularly and warned this could affect battery life. To be fair I have been super conservative and charging as much as possible. Particularly with the Autobahn offering the chance to push the Tesla's performance and as a result burn through the watts.
Our first leg would be 95 miles to Lauenau where the Supercharger was in a rest-stop just off the autobahn. Once we squeezed our way out of the super tight parking garage at the Movenpick (did I mention the Model S is a very wide car) and threaded our way out of Munster we hit the autobahn and the Tesla's accelerator.
This thing is quick and I really can't see why you would ever practically want anything that can accelerate any faster. Unless you are a formula one racer most people's reaction times just won't keep up.
Even our sceptic has been raving about this car's performance but more from them later.
Cruising at 150 to 160KMH was suprisingly efficient and we soon gained 10% on the predicted arrival battery state and a whole 5 minutes off the predicted charge time. By the time we had gone through seemingly endless roadworks at 120 that meant it was telling us it only needed 10 minutes charging to get us to the next SuperCharger when we arrived at Lauenau. This is getting near fuel refill speeds. Once we found the SuperCharger at Lauenau that was - thanks so much to the very kind German lady who saw us driving in circles and acted as a guide allowing us to follow her car to the chargers - have I said anything about signage in these reports?
Lauenau had all the facilities of a normal Motorway Services and I think all agreed (other than finding it) this was a good stop. We actually spent a little longer there thane strictly needed giving us a 90% charge before heading off and plenty of room to push the accelerator. Sadly the german roadworks intervened again slowing us to 100 for most of the journey and turning what should have been a quick 70 mile hop into a tedious 2 hour drive. We were all reaching our limit by the time we reached our next stop at Hohenwarsleben. This was actually a truck stop but thankfully the SuperChargers here although of an older type were easy to find. Facilities were OK here, although unlike most European Motorway Services the staff didn't have mutilingual skills which challenged our own skills. My smattering of german did get us some very fresh filled rolls and pretty decent coffee and we spent about 35 minutes here.
I had initially meant to spend longer but the amount of regen added charge we had gained from the stop start road works meant it was really not necessary and we had easilly reached 90% (indeed heeding this morning's warning on overcharging we had limited the charge to 90%) We did at this point also get prompted if we wanted to run an update. Yes like Windows 10 Tesla's get over the air updates. Unlike Windows 10 we weren't force to take it. This was just as well as it said the car would not be able to be driven for two hours if we did.
A quick side note on the Tesla's internet connection we found this tended to drop out for a few minutes as we crossed country borders and whatever we were playing on Spotify would just stop playing and not recover until we manually reselected it.
Having ignored the update we got on our way again and in amongst more roadworks we did get one lovely clear piece of Autobahn where we were safely able to push it up to 200KMH. The smoothness of this acceleration is mind blowing - along with the fact we could still hold a normal volume conversation whilst doing this. We did get a warning on the power meter when we did this and I understand running at this speed for continuous lengths of time could cause the power to be limited to reduce the chance of overheating. Not much chance of that with the roadworks but my was it fun whilst it lasted.
Even with this over-indulgence we still managed to gain on the predicted state of charge at arrival. We got to Berlin with 130KM predicted range remaining more than enough to get back to the first Supercharger on our return from IFA.
So bottom line. Can you drive an Electric Car from the UK to Berlin? Absolutely. Can you do it as conveniently as a petrol car - almost. I don't think we stopped more than we would have in a petrol car just that some of those stops were a little more challenging than finding a services or petrol station. Nothing some simple signs couldn't help with or perhaps some photo guides on the Tesla Sat Nav.
Would this have been as easy in any other electric car. I'm not sure. Certainly we found a lot of EV points and most were on the PlugSurf network but there were so many different charging rates and crazily different prices. For example one 43KW CCS charger we found today was charging only 9.75 for any length of charge whilst another literally 100 metres away was charging .01 cent a minute and .43 cents per KW. I don't want to have to run a spreadsheet in my car to work out where to charge.
My conclusion is that, as we stretch to near 300 mile ranges, the Electric Cars are ready, more than ready, but the infrastructure still has some catching up. Having said that for most people this sort of long distance drive is the exception and once a week or home charging will be enough. Bottom line even with the infrastructure as now it is still perfectly feasible to use an Electric car for long distances and there is a real joy in that instant torque.