woensdag 18 juli 2018

Guestblog: Simon's #EVFrenchRoadtrip


Vandaag mag ik een gastblog van een vaste lezer Simon van de Beek publiceren. Hij is met zijn Zoë naar het plaatsje Cassis nabij Marseille gereden in een echte roadtrip door Frankrijk. De blog is volledig engelstalig. Veel plezier.
Simon is te vinden via  E-mail en Twitter

Today I may preserve a little digital space on this blog for a very special guest called Simon van de Beek. He wrote a nice story about roadtripping France in his Renault Zoë. Enjoy.

Contact Simon by E-mail or Twitter
Here we go:

Going to and through France with an EV: easy

Charging at Sodetrel along the highway

Dutch Touring Club ANWB (4,4 million members) warned people in their latest magazine: 'Stay in the Netherlands with your electric car. Do not go abroad. It is too difficult'. In June, we tested whether this rather bold statement was true. The answer is no. Driving to and through France with an electric car (EV) is easy. It does require some planning, but that goes for any roadtrip-vacation.


Why this electric roadtrip?

Climate change is the biggest challenge for mankind since, well… ever. I believe it requires us to take bold steps. One way to lower emissions is to stop travelling by airplane and start travelling by green alternatives. For example with an EV – a proven low emission vehicle. So doing an EV-roadtrip within Europe is a great sustainable option.

Our car

We drove the all-electric Renault Zoe Q210 with upgraded battery (37 kWh usable). Motor power: 65 kW (88 hp). From 0-100 in 13,5 seconds. Range is 200 km with 90% highways or 260 km with a mix of highways and city driving.

Charge speeds

The Zoe is able to charge AC with a power ranging from 2.3 kW (regular outlet) to 43 kW (fast charger). The first will charge you +12 km per hour, the latter +210 km per hour.



We used three types of charging: slow (at the AirBNB’s – regular outlet 2.3 kW), normal (charge points of 11 kW) and fast (43 kW). In France you can fast charge at Sodetrel, Ikea and supermarkets Auchan and Lidl.

Slowcharging at a residential (schuko) socket


At about 5 of our AirBNB’s we were able to charge successfully using a regular outlet. At another 3 apartments we were unable to slowcharge. I have not yet found a plausible explanation on why it works on specific spots and doesn’t on others. So make sure not to fully rely on your slow charger. We always had a fast charger near us.

Charging from 0-100% tests your patience: it will take between 19 and 30 hours. However, if you have the time this is a perfect and cheap way to charge the car. Mostly during the night.

Normal charging

Just the regular chargers (mostly 11 kW) that you also find in the Netherlands. Make sure to have the right charge pass! The most easy is to find a charger in the Chargemap app that accepts their pass. France doesn’t have an abundance of regular chargers, so we mainly used slow and fast charging.

Fast charging


Will the Sodetrel-chargers work? This is what we asked ourselves before we started. EV-driver Frank Doorhof had quite some bad experiences with both the chargers and the helpdesk. We are happy to say we had no problem at all. We only had one minor issue with a Sodetrel-charger, but this was fixed in 15 minutes with a reset. All of our chargers worked and offered the power that was promised.
Still we have three points of advice for Sodetrel: 1) make sure the chargers are to be found more easy, 2) ensure the systems can charge more than one EV at the same time (Fastned offers AC+DC charging simultaneously), 3) increase the screen brightness.
Don’t worry about the time you need to spend at these highway-fastchargers. We drove for 2 hours and then took a well-deserved break of 45 minutes. It’s over in a blink of an eye. Have some food and continue your journey.


A big compliment to companies that offer free fast chargers. We charged at Ikea once and it worked splendid. Only critique: you need the KiWhi pass (€20,60) to start the charge. So the Ikea-electricity might be free, you can only get access to this electricity with the expensive KiWhi-card. It would be best if Ikea allows you to use a big international pass like NewMotion/Shell.

Free charging at Auchan


Want to do groceries and park your car in front of the door? Buy an EV! Auchan offers free fast chargers that are right in front of the entrance. Chargepass: KiWhi.

The loved kiWhi pass chargecard.


Free but unfortunately maximised to 30 minutes. Chargepass: KiWhi.

A small peace of advice regarding fast charging. Make sure to have a minimal amount of km’s in your car (>10%) because it will speed up your fast charging session. The lesser the better. Stop charging at 80% because the last 20% are no longer charged fast.

This leads to conclusion one: charging in France is actually easy.

Charge passes

We took along the following 5 charge passes: KiWhi (to activate free chargers), Entega (for fast chargers from Sodetrel), Sodetrel (in case Entega would not work), Chargemap (for normal chargers), NewMotion/Shell (also for normal chargers). This leads to conclusion two: European lawmakers should make it possible to have one single EU-chargepass that works everywhere for a reasonable tariff.

Charge apps

Chargemap Check-in
We used the app from Chargemap and sometimes NewMotion/Shell to find charge points. We experienced Chargemap to be very helpful as it shows whether Sodetrel-fastchargers are in error. It is beneficial to other drivers if you ‘sign in’ to the charger when it works properly.

Our route (one way)


  • AirBNB’s: €1308 (10 apartments)
  • Food and restaurants: €503
  • Charge passes and charging: €183,60 (6,3 cents per km)
  • Costs
    Toll roads France: €179
  • Roadside assistance Europe: €68

    Total: €2241,60 (17 travel days, 2930 km’s, two persons).

Conclusive thoughts

Going to and through France with an EV is easy. It does require planning, but which roadtrip-vacation does not? We hoped to have inspired both you (and the ANWB) to make an EV-roadtrip abroad. After our French roadtrip we are confident enough to go ever further: we’re planning to go to Spain next year.

For any questions you can send an email!

Why English?

Insights regarding EV-driving in Europe should be shared widely. Furthermore, Dutchies are generally able to read English properly.

Simon van de Beek

3 opmerkingen:

  1. Simon, Thanks for sharing your experiences, only confirming what I already know, driving around Europe with a Zoe (22kWh and 41 kWh) since 2014. Every year it’s easier and faster, and also more expensive. No problem when proper service is submitted. It’s a joy to travel long distances with an EV because of it’s lack of vibrations, lack of engine noise and abundance of power whenever needed (mountains). The regular stops for charging are welcome to rest and drive safely to your destination. A route beside the highway with an overnight stop is an extra opportunity to discover new horizons and is therefor already part of your holiday, far more enjoyment then the ANWB expert for fueling abroad will ever expierence when he sticks to his ICE because he’s afraid of driving an EV

  2. Fun article! And really nice. I must admit I'm spoiled with my Tesla but with this car planning is not even needed to travel through Europe. Spain is my next summer stop. Regarding your slow charging and that it did not work aometimes: in France the earthing is different and the "pen earth plug" only allows you to put you shuko plug one way. So, the trick is turn it around by taking a extension cord with you that allows you to turn your shuko of your charger and switch poles of the 220V connection. At least that worked for last time.

  3. Not all Ikea's demand that you have a Kiwhi pass. At IKEA Tours they had a pass ready to use for anyone and I was able to charge at IKEA Clermont Ferrand without any pass needed.