So, here we are in united Europe, where many charging stations for electric vehicles are built with EU funding as part of the “Connecting Europe” program. In theory, it connects, while in real life, things are a bit less rosy.
The Porsche Taycan that the Wysokie Napięcie team is driving through Europe is made for motorways — fast and furious, yet quiet, comfy, and offering a large battery fit for ultrafast charging (our record was 262 kW). Check out this example: the team arrived at an Ionity station near Barcelona with 8% battery charge and charged up to 80% — meaning 300 km (185 miles) on Spanish motorways with a speed limit of 120km/h — in exactly … 20 minutes. Note this as well: up to 56%, our Taycan was sucking in 200 kW of power.
That is precisely the kind of convenience you can now expect from a good electric vehicle while travelling a long distance. There is, however, one condition — the network of charging stations needs to be dense enough and their output capacity high enough. Oh, and you should be able to start charging without extra hassle. Unfortunately, the grim reality west of Paris and Barcelona is that the realm of ubiquitous ultrafast charging stations started with RFID cards or applications of large operators gives way to the fallow land of scarce 50 kW chargers started with all kinds of applications or cards issued by various local operators.
The team managed to download some of them, register, and initiate charging. If they were lucky, an application was used twice, other times only once. On many occasions, though, they couldn’t charge at all without an RFID card in hand, and one could only be mailed within … three(!) weeks.
Okay, you may say we could have ordered the cards before when planning the trip, right? Well, not exactly. Virtually all charging stations in Portugal fall under one operator — Mobil.e. The fact that the app and website are only in Portuguese could be somehow handled, but the requirement to provide a Portuguese tax number seemed to be a bit more challenging. We were smart, at least we thought so, and we copied a tax number of a random Portuguese company taken from its website. However, the Polish address and telephone number simply didn’t go through.
All in all, the charging network in Portugal can basically be used by the Portuguese. The only exception being Tesla Superchargers, which charge Tesla cars everywhere in the world. All other EV drivers will face some serious challenges there, as even the largest roaming operators, which cover thousands of charging stations, fail to include Mobil.e (that applies to New Motion/Shell Recharge, JuicePass, Avia/Nexity, Plugsurfing, Fastned, and Iberdrola, to name a few). A similar problem was experienced with one major operator in Spain.
To be fair again, we must admit that Poland may be challenging to foreign EV drivers as well. The largest operator, GreenWay, launched the option to charge without setting up an account using an app or website, which works great, and a similar solution has been introduced by Nexity, which is operating the largest AC network in Warsaw for Innogy. It’s less friendly when you look at the networks operated by Polish state companies, and we have five of them developing their own networks separately.
Orlen and PGE (state petrol and energy entities) also offer app access, but you cannot install them if you are a foreigner, as the telephone detects your device is registered in another country. Theoretically, even in the case of other operators, you may have trouble charging when chargers are located near state borders and your telephone starts using a cross-border GSM operator. The same happens in underground carparks.
Many GreenWay stations are located on the premises of shopping centers, and on Sundays or at night, you may need to call or simply find a local security guard to open the gate for you, and not all places allow that anyway. We learnt all these pains when talking to Dainius Jakas, a Lithuanian EV driver we met during our #eRally to Nordkapp two years ago, and our team faced similar issues in Lithuania. The density and distribution of charging stations in Poland is still far from satisfying, and you may sometimes find yourself range-anxious when driving a smaller-battery car, as Jakas did in his Ioniq 28kW a few days ago.
The best we can think of is simply charging and paying with your bank/credit card, nothing more, nothing less. No applications, no RFID cards, no registrations. That is what Wysokie Napięcie has been campaigning for and writing about for years. That solution has been launched at the Ekoenergetyka station — still the best charging station we have seen in Europe. When our Taycan was charged at the very start of this #eRally at the Ekoen station, the team simply connected the car to one of the superfast chargers, charging began without any additional authorization, and at the end they went to the pay terminal, picked their charger, and settled the bill. You can even request an invoice be sent to you via email! We hope to see more of this solution across Europe in the future.
Here we are at Cabo da Roca!
Hope you did not forget that we are actually in an e-rally! Due to the many charging adventures in Portugal, we reached Cabo da Roca mostly driving on picturesque country roads. In total, we did 3692 km (2294 miles) from Warsaw to the tip of the Old World with an average consumption of 23.6 kWh/100 km. Most of the distance, the Taycan drove at maximum permissible speeds. That meant consumption of 25 kWh/100 km in Poland, with speed limits on motorways of 140 km/h, and 27 kWh/100 km in Germany at higher speeds. 😉 We were only forced to save energy in Spain and Portugal, and our consumption dropped to 19–21 kWh/100 km.
What a ride it was! Time to turn around and head home. We will surely take a scenic route to tell you more energizing stories, including a bus revolution in Paris. That is coming next.