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Published on May 5th, 2018 | by Jacek Fior

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CleanTechnica’s Tesla Shuttle Weaves Through Romania, Bulgaria, & Macedonia … But Does The Battery Die?

May 5th, 2018 by  


Where did we leave off? Right, in beautiful Romania. Since then, the reports we are getting have become somehow more chaotic. It could be the heat, it could be the tiredness, or it could simply be excellent wine. We will never know. Anyway, in the last entry, I said we would save driving on your last kilowatts for later, and here we are.

The last night in Romania in a small port of Corabia led to a huge EV driver mistake — the driver forgot to connect the car for a good night’s charge (wine? :-). The morning was a rude awakening, as they were about to cross Danube and head for Sofia. Tesla’s navigation left no hope whatsoever — without charging, the Tesla would reach the destination with -14% battery capacity. In other words, it wouldn’t reach the destination.

No problem, they thought. PlugShare showed a charger in Pleven at a Kia Store and they found a friendly car wash place where they paid €10 for the whole package: wash, charge, and coffee. The staff were absolutely fantastic and the money was simply agreed to on the spot, as they had no idea how much (or little) they should charge for charging. Classic.

Better moods, the majestic Danube to cross, and … ooops, the next ferry from Corabia is in 5 hours. With a tight schedule to follow, Tomek decided to head for Oryahovo for a crossing some 60 km away. Good decision, it was, as the wait for the ferry was short. As they were still desperate for more kW, they found a makeshift socket mounted on … sleds, which was apparently used by the ferry to charge its small battery each time it docked there.

The Danube on the horizon.

This sled elegantly holds a charger ….

The initial excitement faded away as it turned out the cable had no grounding and the Tesla righteously refused to charge. This won’t be the first time that grounding proves a challenge. So, we are now on the other side of Danube, in Bulgaria with a new, or actually old, reading on Tesla navigation: “Charging needed to reach destination -7%.” That -7% is what the battery capacity would theoretically be at arrival — if it were possible. Well, -7% is better than -14% and Tomek is a seasoned EV user and does long-range trips in his Nissan LEAF, so — Sofia, here we come.

What do you think? Did he make it?

Romania–Bulgaria border.

Well, the five times they were stopped by the police on the way didn’t help. And, no, they were not interested in the Tesla — they were interested in checking on foreigners in good old communist style. The funny thing is they got away with no consequences (almost) each time because of the guitars they are carrying — “Aha, muzikanty!” The stop ended with a routine check almost every time. 🙂

So, the question you all want to ask — did he make it? Well, with truck drafting skills Tomek has, there was no other scenario. They reached a Sofia KFC charger with 2% to spare!

Was anybody saying anything about range anxiety? Please!

Generally, Bulgaria seems less advanced in the EV revolution than Romania. There are fewer chargers, less interest, lower awareness — admittedly, these would be general impressions from a somewhat short stay and as such may not represent the whole truth about the country.

If you look closely at the picture above, you will notice a Nissan e-NV200 there, and they also passed a Nissan LEAF. The people behind did not gather to watch the Tesla but instead a street race — the Fast & Furious kind — that was taking place right behind the charger. Were they tempted to give them a lesson? They said they weren’t. I found it difficult to believe, but further information was provided!

Sofia at night ticked off the to-do list and the next stop was Kratovo in Macedonia, a charming small town of countless bridges and towers.

There was no way they could forget about night charging this time. The only thing was, there were no chargers and the sockets had no grounding. Tomek literally walked from house to house with the Tesla charging cable and tried connecting to all possible sockets. The LED lights went red many times before they finally found one that worked. We are in the Wild(er) East.

A Polish tourist finds us in Macedonia.

If you own an EV and like adventures, Macedonia is a place to go! If you are less adventurous but still want to visit Macedonia, stay around Skopje. OK, there are no fast chargers, but you can find some semi-fast 22 kW chargers like the one in the picture below. Add, there are very friendly staff — a few euros to charge, a beautiful city around you, and what else could an EV enthusiast want?

22kW charging in Skopie

Quite eventful couple of days, wasn’t it? As before, the CleanTechnica Tesla Shuttle receives quite a lot of attention (not always welcome, like in Bulgaria) and sometimes leads to funny encounters, like the one with a tourist from Poland easily recognized via his plastic bag from the most common market chain in Poland. Who would have thought they would pop up in the middle of nowhere in Macedonia.

My gut feeling tells me that we’re in for some more stories. Albania, Montenegro, and Croatia are waiting to be explored. Stay tuned, folks.


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About the Author

Jacek is an entrepreneurial type who sees opportunities all around. He runs his own corporate language training company and international translation agency, Better Horizons. One of his many passions, besides card tricks and mixology, is electric cars and their introduction on the market. He is currently working on launching the Polish platform of CleanTechnica — cleantechnica.pl — in the hopes of helping people to understand the revolution we are witnessing. Jacek is also a founding partner of Tesla Shuttle.



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