Following up on the first part of this journey in the Hyundai Kona Electric from Warsaw, Poland, to the easternmost point in Europe — and our earlier EV journeys to Nordkapp (the northernmost point in Europe), Cabo da Roca (the westernmost point), Punta Marroqui (the southernmost point) — this article covers our travels through Greece, Albania, and Croatia in the Hyundai Kona Electric. (See the previous article here.)
Greece — Albania
“Can you charge in Albania?” is something we hear quite often, as it’s becoming a more and more popular holiday destination. Well, quite honestly, we still don’t know much about this, as the team didn’t use many publicly accessible chargers. Actually, they used only one destination charger at the hotel. The answer why is a bit more complex than simply saying there aren’t any.
First of all, Albania stretches 400 km south to north, and with Kona’s regular range of 500 km, there was no pressure to charge. Secondly, truth be told, Albania is everything but abundant with chargers (there are officially three publicly accessible DC charging stations). Thirdly, the team didn’t buy a SIM card for Albania (available on the border for €20, but nobody felt like being bothered time-wise or cost-wise). At the same time, using the internet on a regular roaming plan costs … €6,000/GB or more, which was unanimously agreed to be too expensive (make sure you turn off your mobile data roaming on your phones when entering Albania, Montenegro, Switzerland, and Turkey — otherwise you may be in for a nasty surprise). Searching for a charger without being able to use an app was pointless. Finally, as if we needed this last straw, the charging roaming cards the team had wouldn’t start any of the chargers and it was necessary to download an app. Well, see the comment above about the internet.
The lesson was learnt, Albania is lagging behind other European countries when it comes to EV infrastructure. The country understandably has other priorities, knowing where it is in its development. Fingers crossed they will catch up on EVs and in other areas needed to make the lives of Albanians better.
Nevertheless, it wasn’t very difficult to locate a hotel with a charger through Booking.com, and so the Kona EV arrived at the Adriatic Hotel in Durres at the seaside where a very friendly guard, with some good English, plugged in EVs according to what was requested by the owners at reception. You could decide what time your EV got connected and how long it should charge for, and instead of an app, the guard would perform all the necessary operations. Since each hour cost €4 and the Kona charged at 6.7 kW, the cost per kWh proved rather high. All in all, our road-trippers asked for 3 hours of charging, as the Kona didn’t need that much energy. The cost for charging was added to the invoice for the stay. All neat and smooth.
Let’s share some more insight on the Albanian stage, as our Kona was simply unbelievably efficient there. Driving along kind of infamous Albanian roads, I’m happy to report the one along the coast is in very good condition, with only a few holes and bumps (one of them quite deep, though, and a less careful and impatient Albanian driver lost one of his wheels seconds after he had overtaken the Kona). Anyway, with speeds in the 30–80 km/h (19–50 mph) range, energy consumption averaged 12 kWh/100 km, and it would have been lower if it hadn’t been for some steep climbs up the mountain passes from sea level to 1000m (3280 ft) above sea level.
If you ever decide to visit Albania, make sure you stop in Butrint, you will experience the Balkans in a nutshell — well maintained city walls of a Hellenistic settlement offered shelter to Troy survivors, and it includes remains of a Rome theater, has basilica dating back to early Christianity, and is home to a Venetian fortress, all in one place (no chargers there, though).
Albania — Dubrovnik
Did I say the Kona’s range was 500 km (310 miles)? Well, the team got it all wrong and I apologize for that. It appears we had all underestimated what the crossover could do! Driving from Durres to Dubrovnik (actually driving up a little), energy consumption averaged(!) 10.7 kWh/100 km, which translates to 600 km (372 miles) of range. You can’t complain about that, can you? Okay, when driving through Albania the day before, the team mostly used state roads and occasionally hit 100 km/h. Today, however, driving through the north of Albania and Montenegro, our Kona EV slid along picturesque narrow roads winding through hills and small coastal towns. This scenic route meant lower speeds, never going above 70–80 km/h (43–50 mph). Also, most roads in Montenegro, just like in Albania, are in a good condition, so there’s no stress on the car’s suspension.
Montenegro is ranked higher than Albania in terms of GDP and state of development, and that becomes quite evident when checking the list of available chargers. There is only one publicly accessible DC charging station (in the capital of Podgorica). There are, however, quite a number of AC charging stations available in roaming. That is how the Kona landed in one of the most beautiful charging stations the team has seen (and they have seen plenty). The station was in a small parking lot above the beach in Sveti Stefan. It felt good to start it with the charge card we use in Poland. It was good to be back in Europe when it comes to EV charging. As for the view, it overlooked a small island that used to be a fishermen settlement and a pirate hideout, to be later converted into a luxury resort visited, among many others, by Marilyn Monroe. Since the budget was not prepared to spend €1,000 for a night at Amani Sveti Stefan (you are most welcome to jump at this opportunity yourselves), the team had coffee on the beach, enjoyed the view, and headed for Croatia.
What a disappointment to start with in Croatia — the largest local charging network, Elen, remains unconnected to Europe. That is, you can’t use it within any roaming plan. With no intention of setting up a new account with the operator, a smaller competitor, Hrvatski Telekom, came to the rescue. It’s not perfect, as you can’t start it with the card, but it worked through the app. It’s not the kind of EV experience we would all hope for, but in the end, all that mattered was it worked and it let our little Kona reach Dubrovnik with its amazing city walls and narrow streets. It’s still warm in October, and it’s not clattered with noisy tourists. Pay a visit if you can. For the Kona, it was another peaceful night charging at a small Bed & Breakfast. €15 was acceptable to be fully charged in the morning and set off for more EV adventure. To be continued. …
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