Belgian Steven Peeters recently drove his Tesla Model S on a family road trip to Norway, covering over 5,400 miles. During the journey, he made a number of videos depicting the various events along the way. Much of the Tesla news coverage is US-centric and at times can be overly slanted, so this seemed like a breath of fresh air. Steven’s Norway road trip videos are much calmer and provide a view into a European Tesla experience. He just returned from his trip and answered some questions about it for CleanTechnica.
1. Why did you want an electric vehicle and why did you choose a Tesla Model S?
I had been following Tesla for a long time and was interested in the Model S early on. However, being an employee at that time, it was impossible for me to have such an expensive car. In 2012 I became a freelance consultant and after a few good years I was feeling confident enough to start leasing such an expensive car. When Elon presented the P85D in October of 2014, I was immediately sold on the all-wheel-drive concept and the fact that this was a very beautiful car and also a very fast one. The practicality was also a key selling point for me. Having 3 young kids, I wanted to be able to take the car on vacation as well.
So, basically, there was no other choice than a Tesla. And in my opinion, there still isn’t any other choice today to have a full electric daily driver that you can also go on vacation with, thanks to the Supercharger network. I love the fact that the car is better for the environment, but it was not a selling point for me. As an IT guy, the whole promise of constantly being updated and having the latest and greatest was more appealing to me.
2. How long have you had it and how many miles have you driven it?
I wanted the P85D as soon as it was announced. The days after that announcement I talked to lease companies and my accountant and 3 days later I placed my order and received the car at the end of March 2015. I was one of the first in Belgium to get this P85D. That car I drove for about 75,000 km (or 46,613 miles) before I upgraded to my P100D on March 1, 2017, which I still drive today. It now just crossed the 90,000 km (or 55,935 mile) mark on our annual family road trip. So, in total I have driven a Tesla for 165,000 km (or 102,547 miles) in those almost 4.5 years of ownership.
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3. How many kilometers did you drive on the trip to Norway?
This epic road trip was a total of 8,707 km (5,411 miles), of which about 5,500 km (3,418 miles) I drove all alone, as the family took the plane to Norway and I picked them up in Bodø and left them at the airport in Tromsø. That was quite the trip just to get there and back home again, which I underestimated a bit, but was still a lot of fun.
4. How comfortable was the trip for you and your family? How many children do you have and was their leg of the trip comfortable with your wife?
As said, I have 3 young boys, ages 12, 11, and 8. They took the plane for the very first time to Bodø, while I had already left 3 days prior to that to cover the 2,300 km to pick them up at the airport in Norway. They were all looking very much forward to being on a plane for the first time. Aside from the fact that they almost missed their connection due to a huge delay in their first leg to Oslo (it was not a direct flight), the kids were really excited.
As for the rest of the trip with the car, the fact that it is a wide and spacious interior, the kids were really comfortable in the back. At that age, the car can comfortably accommodate all 3 of them in the back seat. They even use the extra space to stuff all kinds of things on the floor and still have room to put their feet. That is also one of the reasons why I drove the car over there: you can bring a lot more luggage than what you would do on a plane!
So yes, they were very comfortable, as was the wife in the front.
5. Were you able to mostly charge at Tesla chargers during the whole trip?
Getting there and back again I only used Superchargers to cover the vast distances. The Supercharger network is so extensive that I don’t even look at a map anymore before I take on such a trip. They just are almost everywhere now. It was quite different 4 years ago, when we did our first road trip to Sweden. At that time, traveling these distances required a bit more route planning of where to stay to stay close to the Supercharger areas. The car has always taken care of itself when it comes to planning routes along Supercharger locations. But I never let the car dictate where I would be going. I decide where I want to go and only then see if there might be any charging issues I need to resolve.
The same principle was valid for this trip. Once I reached Bodø, we went off-Supercharger-grid for over 10 days before we encountered another Supercharger. On Senja, there wasn’t even a public charging station, so I relied mostly on destination charging on a regular socket at the houses where we stayed.
The same was also true when we went all the way up to North Cape. After Sørkjosen, the northernmost Supercharger in the world, there are not a lot of charging options that can give you a quick charge. And when we arrived at the house where we stayed in Skarsvag, there were no usable sockets. The owner only lived 200m away from the property and was kind enough to let me charge there, but he regularly had to unplug the car, so he could use his water heater to take a shower. That was a very tense moment for me, as we took an unexpected detour of 200 km (124 miles) without charging options and we arrived in Skarsvag with only 5% battery remaining. I basically needed at least 80% charge to get to where we needed to go next and were going to spend some more as we drove to north Cape itself and only stayed for 2 nights. So, we almost got stranded as we could not stay longer to charge, as my wife and kids had a plane to catch in Tromsø only 2 days later. That was the first time in 4.5 years of driving a Tesla that I was a little worried.
We eventually spent an additional few hours along the route down south and did some mild hypermiling to get where we needed to be the day after, because that was a 400 km (248 mile) leg of the trip back down to that Supercharger. But that far up north, even gasoline cars have range anxiety, as fuelling stations are also hard to find. We eventually made it, but that day was a very long day of driving and charging.
6. How much did you spend on electricity?
My car still has the free lifetime Supercharging, so that part of the trip didn’t cost me anything. At the houses we stayed in, I asked the owner each and every time if I could charge and offered to pay for the additional electricity. Only one property actually charged me 100NOK for 2 nights for charging. This amounts to a total “fuel” cost of €10.30 ($11.50) for the entire trip. If we would have done this with my wife’s people carrier, that amount of driving would have cost us about €870 (or $970) on diesel fuel. That is quite a saving on the travel budget.
7. Would you do another long road trip in the Tesla with your family again?
This is the 5th time we took the Tesla on our family road trip. We did Sweden the first year, went to Croatia twice, and now Norway for the second time. So, yes, of course!
The first year, my wife had some reservations about the trip, as she anticipated having to spend a lot of time at the Superchargers. But as soon as we got back, it wasn’t a question anymore if we would take the Tesla on our next trip. In fact, every trip (short or long) we do with the family is in the Tesla. My wife’s car is only used for her commute to work.
8. Where was that giant moose you stopped at?
That moose is called Storelgen and is located on the road between Elverum and Alvdal Superchargers. So, that is conveniently located. It is also just alongside the road and doesn’t even require a detour. It’s just a little resting area. Norway is just filled with these resting areas that have either things to do or have a very nice views. So, taking a short break is no hardship at all. It does add to the travel time of course, in such a beautiful country.
9. Was there charging available when you were at the Arctic Circle Center?
At that location, there were no charging options. But you have the Storjord Supercharger to the north, only 20 minutes away, and Mo i Rana to the south, which is a little further away. So, nothing to worry about when you want to visit this place.
10. The Norwegian coastal areas you were driving near seemed quite beautiful at times. Are they open spaces with mostly small villages?
It depends. In the southern part of Norway, the country is more densely populated. But as of Trondheim up north, it is indeed more desolate nature with mostly smaller villages and a small city every now and then. But it’s not only the coastal areas that are beautiful, the entire country is. For 2 years now I’m under the strict instructions from my wife not to stop at each and every corner to take pictures. 🙂 That is how beautiful it is. After each corner there is yet another impressive view. I have hours and hours of footage of driving and exploring this country. The hardest part of making my road trip videos here is to select the best and most interesting views to share. I could make each day a 1-hour long video no problem. That’s how beautiful nature is here!
11. What did you and your children enjoy the most about the trip?
For me personally, I would say the driving part and seeing those sceneries. It relaxes me and road tripping is for me the best way to explore a country. I’m not someone who would enjoy spending 2 weeks in the same location, the world is too big to be stuck in one place. The wife enjoys the scenery and walks as well, so I’m lucky we are on the same page when it comes to spending vacations.
If you ask the kids about what they liked best, they all reply the same: walking and spending time with the Huskies and secondly the whale watching trip, where we got to see a bunch of killer whales and a sperm whale (which is quite rare to see them both on one trip as they normally don’t really get along).
12. Would you ever go back to owning a gas-powered car?
That is a very complex question. I would say that I’ll probably never go back to gas powered cars again. I’m trying to get my wife on an electric car as well. I’m really happy with my Tesla, but there are still some downsides to it as well. Although Tesla is improving quite a bit each and every week, the car is not without flaws and monthly service visits have been part of my life with a Tesla up until the end of the warranty period. The bigger issues have all been fixed by Tesla service, but I guess now I have to learn to live with the minor issues that may pop up in the future. As my wife says: if it were any other car that required so many service visits, I would have sold it a long time ago. And she is right about that! But that testifies at the same time how much I like this car!
The downside is that with 3 kids, I need a big spacious car and Tesla is the only viable option for the moment, but it is too expensive for us to own privately. So for now, we have to stick to a gas-powered second car for the wife until cheaper models become available (maybe from other manufacturers).