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Driving to Alps in electric car

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Out of curiosity does anyone drive down to the Alps on a Tesla - wondering availability of fast chargers along the route and if any queuing required?

Thinking of going electric for next car but wondering about practicalities for driving to Chatel in a day without having to overnight or make a very long stop. Also considering a plug-in hybrid as a good compromise - electric around london and petrol/diesel when driving to Alps.
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Needed a new car a couple of years ago, looked at Tesla X but my perception that we'd be unable to get to the Alps in a day was a reason we didn't. Also lack of chargers generally and on-street parking at home so tricky home charge here tbf.
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Can't talk about the drive from the UK, but a friend who has a Tesla drives regularly from Innsbruck to Hamburg and back without issue. There's been electric charging points in resorts like St Anton and Lech for a good few years already, and Innsbruck city is/has been installing a bunch around town the last couple of months. I think once in Tyrol you'd have no problem, but obviously that doesn't help much re. the way down...
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https://www.tesla.com/en_GB/trips?redirect=no
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MHskier wrote:
https://www.tesla.com/en_GB/trips?redirect=no


Thanks for sending quite I interesting - it calculates 14 hours in total including 135 mins of total charging time. I regularly do it on 11 hours door-to-door from SW london taking my usual 8:20 crossing.

Edit: 16 hours is a standard range Tesla and I assume some of these charging station may be in use on arrival.


Last edited by Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do. on Mon 10-02-20 11:11; edited 1 time in total
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UK registered Tesla in the hotel carpark in Arabba last week. Must have been one of the birthday bashers?
Saw an Innsbruck registered Tesla in Torridon (up near Skye) when I was there last time.
Dunno how many enforced stops/charges they both took, but afaik Tesla tells you when and where to charge. I imagine it was more stops than my ICE car.
Wouldn't be my first choice of car, but it's clearly possible. In the unlikely event that I did, I'd want to be absolutely certain there was a charger at the hotel, and that I could guarantee a full charge on it.
3-4 charging points at each German autobahn services is typical. I hear the UK services have more (but a monopoly?). No clue about France or Switzerland (I imagine the latter must have lots of charging judging by the number of Swiss registered leccy cars I see).
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You should checkout Tesla Bjørn on Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/user/bjornnyland) who reviews electric cars here in Norway. His 1000km challenges is a good indication on how much time in driving and charging it takes to drive 1000km (621miles).

Tesla has a route planner, which will show you charging stops and charging times on the way.
https://www.tesla.com/trips

Thinking of getting the Model 3 or Y as our next car.
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@Ozboy, we don’t have a Tesla but a Mitsubishi Outlander (think that is what it is) so a hybrid. I think we have had about four years now. We have a charging point in our garden by where it is parked at home and when we had our own chalet in Les Gets it was charged from power socket on the garage. We have never been very successful finding places to charge away from home! I know there are (only)Tesla charging points by Mt Chery gondola base. That might have changed as we moved out 18 months ago. Loads of Tesla points by Eurotunnel French end. And we always noticed quite a few on journey to the Alps at service stations. Just back from a month in Austria and we found Lidl in Altenmarkt had charging points - and free.
I know we can’t use the Tesla ones but not sure if that applies vice versa.
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@Pamski, we were given a rental Outlander hybrid last weekend from GVA and was very impressed although did not bother charging it as we just did a out and back without driving it around the resort. Only issue is that we had no idea what all the buttons did as how to run it on electricity - would have been helpful if someone at Sixt explained these features to us.
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Loads of Tesla chargers at Auberge de Moissons near Chalons. Have vend7ng machines for snacks and coffee of bar is closed. Theres a boulangerie too. I think you can use the pool in summer too
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Each time you stop to recharge, remember that the petrol station around the corner has 10-16 pumps with a car in front of each of them for about 5 minutes at a time, so if they are all in use you'll get there within 10 minutes and with a diesel car will get ~500 miles from the fill. For charging stations, each will have a car in front of them for about 45-60 minutes, so you could be waiting for an hour for one to become free, and if they don't have a queueing system then you'll have to sit there watching for a space to become free so you can get there before someone else arrives. And then you'll get 200-300 miles per charge.

The Tesla planner shows Cambridge to Saalbach as 19 hours, including almost 4 hours of charging time, in a Model X SUV with the "long range" battery pack. We cover that in 15.

Then when you get there, you'll find that all of the charging points are in hotels or private apartments, so the chances of driving up and plugging in are zero. I've never struggled to find diesel, and if the tank unexpectedly comes up as low due to head winds, hills, etc then I'm never more than 10 miles from a refill. That's why my current car is a diesel, and why my next car will probably also be diesel or petrol. Once electric vehicles can manage 500 miles on a charge and take less than 30 minutes to recharge, and preferably can tow a trailer, I'll buy one.


Last edited by snowHeads are a friendly bunch. on Mon 10-02-20 12:34; edited 1 time in total
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@ousekjarr, agree with all this and am leaning towards plug-in hybrid as a reasonable long term solution until charging points as speed of charging issues are sorted. I really want electric around London as pollution from combustion traffic is very noticeable.
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I’ve looked at driving our e-Niro (pure electric, 250-300 mile range) to the alps in summer and concluded it would be pretty easy, though in the end we flew because driving is still 2-3x longer than flying for us.

Most places I would choose to (or have to) stop eg Chunnel terminal, service stations etc have charging points. The difference to a petrol car is that you can do other things whilst it’s charging (bathroom break, food) so once your mindset shifts, it takes less time than you think. Calais to Chamonix needs about 90-120 mins total charging time, most of which can be done over lunch.

Certainly for long drives in the UK I don’t even think about charging, planning etc., i just get in the car and drive. On aggregate I’ll spend longer charging on the rare occasions we have to, but over the year I’ll waste many fewer hours in petrol stations because 95% of charging happens while I sleep.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@Ozboy, plug-in hybrids are a waste of space - when running on petrol or diesel they have to lug around the batteries so you get 5-10mpg less than you would in the same car if it had a standard drive system, then when you switch it to electric running the range is about 30 miles at most - see https://www.drivingelectric.com/mitsubishi/outlander/489/mitsubishi-outlander-phev-range-mpg-co2-charging for an example. What's the point? I expect them to be banned entirely if they can't run at least half the time on electricity, with a minimum range of 100 miles. For now, they're OK if you can commute less than 10 miles, or as a local runabout, but for anything beyond that they're entirely unsuitable. Plus the claimed 140mpg is closer to 30 when running on petrol, which it will be for much of the time in the real world.
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There are loads of charging points around here - ski car parks Ive seen them at Flachau and Schladming, then Lidl Altenmarkt and Radstadt town centre. They are certainly becoming more popular. Ange snowHead
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https://ionity.eu/
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@ousekjarr, the new Merc e-class hybrid runs I’m diesel and the figures that i have over seen are not too far off off overall economy of diesel. It is 300kg heavier but most of my high fuel consumtion driving around london will be fully electric (charge points on my street from street lamps). The car does a few miles a day around SW London or drives to the Alps - not much in between. For the latter it’s cruising on French Autoroute at 140kph and hopefully in 9th gear for some of the journey.
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meh, that's just another car designed to fiddle the company car tax scheme. Carrying 300Kg of extra weight and with less boot space, so that you can run the battery flat in 20 minutes on a motorway. 95% of them will never use the batteries, as they cruise the motorway network with sales managers behind the wheel.
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2 friends drove from S Wales to Ste Foy 2 weeks ago in a Tesla. Car calculated the route via Tesla fast chargers, so effectively fuel was free.
There were no mishaps and they’re now back safely. Don’t have any more detail yet.

As an aside, they booked the holiday very late as they wanted to go where there was likely to be fresh snow. They were prepared to drive down without accommodation if need be (certainly for the first night) as there’s enough room in a model S for a double blow-up mattress when the back seats are folded. You can also set climate control to any given temperature while you sleep.
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@flangesax, lidl chargers are great as most of them are free, and you can nip in and grab a cinnamon bun while the car is charging.
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@ousekjarr, the idea is electric around town - 20 mile range gets me - a week in London and diesel on motorway. Suits me better that an all-electric with longer driving time to the Alps.
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@Ozboy, then you're one of the edge cases where it works, lucky for you. On a longer journey, you'll be paying 5-10% more in fuel, but if you've shelled out >£50K for the car then I suspect that won't be a consideration.
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Quote:

@Ozboy, plug-in hybrids are a waste of space - when running on petrol or diesel they have to lug around the batteries so you get 5-10mpg less than you would in the same car if it had a standard drive system, then when you switch it to electric running the range is about 30 miles at most - see https://www.drivingelectric.com/mitsubishi/outlander/489/mitsubishi-outlander-phev-range-mpg-co2-charging for an example. What's the point? I expect them to be banned entirely if they can't run at least half the time on electricity, with a minimum range of 100 miles. For now, they're OK if you can commute less than 10 miles, or as a local runabout, but for anything beyond that they're entirely unsuitable. Plus the claimed 140mpg is closer to 30 when running on petrol, which it will be for much of the time in the real world.


This. I very much doubt that a new hybrid is any greener than an equivalent petrol or diesel car over its full life-cycle. And indeed they are included in the new 2035 internal combustion engine ban, so it seems that government agrees
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@Ozboy, David uses the Outlander for local driving erring around 34 miles from the electric supply which works fine for into Chi, down to the sailing club or to the marina or beach and back again, and is meticulous about plugging in as soon as home. Petrol used when longer journeys and he turns the electric battery off if driving to a town, or London particularly as exempt from congestion charge atm, so he can use the electric bit of it in traffic in town. I am sure it is not the most economical for trips to the Alps, but once there it is driven very little. Personally I wouldn’t want to be all electric yet, I would like to have sets of batteries like a CD stack that could be plugged in on long trips. Bright young people need to be working on that.
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imorris wrote:
2 friends drove from S Wales to Ste Foy 2 weeks ago in a Tesla. Car calculated the route via Tesla fast chargers, so effectively fuel was free.
There were no mishaps and they’re now back safely. Don’t have any more detail yet.

As an aside, they booked the holiday very late as they wanted to go where there was likely to be fresh snow. They were prepared to drive down without accommodation if need be (certainly for the first night) as there’s enough room in a model S for a double blow-up mattress when the back seats are folded. You can also set climate control to any given temperature while you sleep.


A couple of years ago a friend drove his model X to the South of France for a family holiday. His experience:

1. totally doable and of course the car is very comfortable
2. obviously takes longer - he used Tesla fast chargers which worked well but also found that it was optimal to drive at 60mph (driving faster means more charging!). He was a bit self conscious because they were going with another family in an ICE car and he felt he was holding them up (obviously they didn't have to stop when he did).
3. He was staying in a friend's parents holiday let - he got a bit embarrassed about sucking their power so ended up getting up early to drive 20 miles to a Tesla charger a few times!

Conclusion - not ideal but certainly doable.

At NY I noticed a few Teslas in Les C - new to me. Not sure if France has given more generous subsidies now?
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jedster wrote:
[

Not sure if France has given more generous subsidies now?


I'm sure I read that France has virtually cancelled it's EV subsidies.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
could be - the perils of extrapolating for a small data set!
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@Pamski, that’s pretty much our use case and would love to adopt electric but will need to wait as the rate of progress seems to be very fast and possibly a lack of standards as different manufactures try to outdo one another.

They showed a new Porsche electric on this week’s Top Gear and highlighted there were currently only 4 suitable new generation rapid charge points for this model and introducing new standards.

On another note our local Shell garage as a trial is in the process or ripping out all the petrol pumps and setting up an all electric charging station with mini Waitrose and coffee shop to accommodate those waiting.
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You know it makes sense.
Quote:

@Ozboy, then you're one of the edge cases where it works, lucky for you. On a longer journey, you'll be paying 5-10% more in fuel, but if you've shelled out >£50K for the car then I suspect that won't be a consideration.


Not sure that @ozboy is such an unusual case for urban driving.

For myself, a hybrid works well for a family runabout in a rural area.

I commute ~13 miles to work in my Golf hybrid, and then lots of local journeys as parent taxi at the weekend. All mainly hilly country lanes. I do almost all of my miles on electricity, with petrol for the occasional trip further afield. I probably get through about 30l of petrol in an average month, whereas before I was getting through about 30l of diesel a week in my previous Golf.

On long motorway runs at 80mph I get ~50mpg. Not stellar performance compared to a diesel. The main benefit on longer runs is the auto coasting when the engine isn't needed, and the boost that electric can give the engine when you need to do an overtake.


Last edited by You know it makes sense. on Mon 10-02-20 14:03; edited 2 times in total
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Ditching petrol/diesel and going to a full electric vehicle is a big decision, which no doubt will mean changes to how you use your car. But should that big decision be determined by the inconvenience of two or four days long journey per year to or from the Alps?

We're a two-car family and I don't think Jane's car has ever done more mileage per day than the range of current plug-in EVs on a full charge, and in typical weekly usage might need charging twice per week. For my car there's probably less than a dozen days per year when my mileage exceeds the range of an EV, so in the grand scheme of things 'range anxiety' shouldn't be a big factor in a decision about when to go electric. Those long mileage days always involve motorway journeys, so ready access to EV chargers and the inconvenience factor might be measured in an hour or two rather than anything more life-changing. The biggest difference it will make to Jane and I will be the need to be a bit more coordinated about who parks on our driveway (near an EV charging point we'd install) and who parks on the road. For me the decision about when to switch will be based largely on total cost of ownership rather than how inconvenient it will be to drive to the Alps. I think it's getting closer and closer to the point where a full EV is clearly cheaper to own and run than an equivalent petrol/diesel car.
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Driving to the Alps in an electric car is a more complex case than ‘will the car make it’.

Obviously if an EV is the only car you have then it is possible and that’s what you’ll do.

There are probably enough chargers en route(s), for sure you will be comfortable with ‘adjusting’ your thinking / planning around range and recharging etc., you will also accept a little delay getting onto popular chargers and it will all be very plausible (but different).

However, a key upside for no emission electric vehicles is in urban areas where ICE emissions have a more immediate impact on the population. On a long motorway trip the actual impact of no emissions is much less; yet the ‘centralised’ impact of generating the electricity at the power station remains. So I think the environmental impact is positive but limited.

For me, the killer consideration is the rate the battery runs down at motorway speeds. I drove back from Austria this weekend and saw all EVs travelling at circa 60mph. The general speed of traffic was around 80mph and I don’t think the EVs were slowing down to eek the last few miles out of a diminished battery - I think they needed to travel at these lower speeds to get close to the anticipated / required overall range.

In itself travelling slowly isn’t a bad thing however on a 500 mile journey the difference between 60mph and 80mph can make a 2 hour difference (excluding charging time).

My point being that travelling slowly and taking longer starts to make the journey more of a 2 day tour with many stops, as opposed to a single point-to-point sprint.

I’m sure that an EV trip on a popular route could emulate a point-to-point sprint with ultra efficient planning, precise execution and a bit of luck (no headwind etc.) but I’d still get fatigue anxiety at the tail end of the trip where I’m more worried that I have another couple of hours on already flagging energy levels.
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One thing that I could see happening is car manufacturers agreeing a standard size of luggage container. This container would fit onto trains and slot into a pickup style vehicle that you could hire from the train station.
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tomj wrote:
Quote:

@Ozboy, then you're one of the edge cases where it works, lucky for you. On a longer journey, you'll be paying 5-10% more in fuel, but if you've shelled out >£50K for the car then I suspect that won't be a consideration.


Not sure that @ozboy is such an unusual case for urban driving.

For myself, a hybrid works well for a family runabout in a rural area.

I commute ~13 miles to work in my Golf hybrid, and then lots of local journeys as parent taxi at the weekend. All mainly hilly country lanes. I do almost all of my miles on electricity, with petrol for the occasional trip further afield. I probably get through about 30l of petrol in an average month, whereas before I was getting through about 30l of diesel a week in my previous Golf.

On long motorway runs at 80mph I get ~50mpg. Not stellar performance compared to a diesel. The main benefit on longer runs is the auto coasting when the engine isn't needed, and the boost that electric can give the engine when you need to do an overtake.


I agree this use case is common for a lot of families in London using cars as a run around for schools and weekend activities etc. and then getting away on long weekends or for schools holidays. The bigger issue is what have to use the car all all. But freeing the local roads near schools of pollution but paying higher MPG for a motorway run on petrol is not that much of a big deal given the overall cost of car ownership.
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Our car is electric. I must confess we wouldn't have considered driving to the Alps even when we had a diesel - we'd take the train instead - but for journeys that mean charging away from home it's really not a big deal. Zap Map is an excellent resource for finding suitable chargers. As others have alluded to, you do need to shift your mindset slightly from put-your-foot-down-let's-get-there-asap to where-would-be-an-interesting-place-to-stop-for-an-hour. Even the time at a motorway service station while everyone uses the toilet and then there is an in-depth analysis about whether the Gregg's vegan sausage roll is better or not than the normal one is long enough to get us enough charge, though I think we as a family prefer to break the journey more often than some others.

And there is a lot of truth to driving slightly slower getting you there sooner by avoiding the need to recharge.

I consider a hybrid a poor compromise - increased cost, increased weight, increased servicing costs. If I was in the situation where I felt I needed a hybrid to manage occasional longer journeys like the trip to the Alps at speed, I'd instead consider going full electric and then hiring a regular car for those longer journeys.
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My personal view is that we are at best 10 years away from a truly workable network based on a common manufacturer and government EV strategy, and as such the infrastructure is adhoc and personal investment required does not dictate that anything other than a hybrid is a realistic option for those doing regular long business journeys atm. It’s akin to the VHS vs Betamax era of the early 1980’s imo, plenty people taking a punt but you could very quickly buy into obsolescence as progress evolves.

A friend of mine, a big Tesla fan set off to drive his to Italy for his annual holidays last summer, got as far as Brussels and decided he’d had enough - and stuck it on the car-train at Köln at great expense rather than mess about......it’s too early to even consider a EV car journey at 80mph cruising speed imo, and there’s no way I’d be driving down the Rhine mixing it with the HGV’s in the slow lane on the AB just so it’ll be anything like range efficient.


Last edited by Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do. on Mon 10-02-20 14:26; edited 1 time in total
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A friend in the motor trade reckons battery driven cars have too many drawbacks. He thinks fuel cells are the future.
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@Gordyjh, or hydrogen
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@Markymark29, Hydrogen cars use fuel cells.
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15 years ago we all used Nokia phones which had a battery life of a week, or a month if not used. How we laughed at that fancy Apple phone which sold bells and whistles to hide its rubbish life of barely 24 hours.

Times and priorities have changed.

Most users don’t need more than 200 miles to go shopping or see friends before they charge/refill, 50 weeks of the year, and they will appreciate a quiet, smooth, intelligent transport without fumes. No oil changes, spark plug problems etc. Running costs halved. No need to visit a garage for servicing, updates overnight.

Why would anyone want an expensive complex piece of untested machinery using exotic fuel when horses and hay are plentiful?

Change is coming. To each the choice of when to make it.
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@Gordyjh, By coincidence I was just reading this article about the future of Hydrogen fuel cell:

https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/industry/analysis-do-hydrogen-powered-cars-have-future
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