Here’s everything they need to know about electric motoring in the EU.
As the range of electric cars increases, employees will be more confident of taking them abroad. And while travelling long distances in an EV in Europe is perfectly doable, there are a few things to consider such as price, charging and planning to ensure a stress-free, efficient holiday run.
According to the EU’s Alternative Fuels Observatory, it would cost approximately 25 Euros to charge a Volkswagen ID.3 from 10-80% in public in France, which is marginally cheaper than in the UK. Prices do vary in European countries quite a bit though. The Alternative Fuels Observatory (AFO) pricing estimates the same charge would cost 32 Euros in Germany and Italy, and 30 Euros in Belgium, for example.
When abroad and paying in a different currency, it’s not always easy to work out if you’re getting good value and so to get a good idea of whether it’s about the right amount, check the AFO’s calculator here.
It’s just as easy as in the UK. There are more than 101,000 chargepoints in France, which is about double that in the UK – but then you need to remember that France is two-and-a-half times the size, and many journeys are far longer, so they’re needed. There are 90,000 in Germany too, and around 35,000 in Italy.
One country that is currently underserved is Spain. The AFO reports it has only 27,000 chargepoints – less than half the UK number for a country twice the size.
The first roads drivers are likely to encounter are French autoroutes, and they’re a famously fantastic way to travel. For electric car drivers they provide plenty of charging too, with 97% of services now equipped with chargers.
Estimates from Renault claim that 90% of all charging in France takes place at home, and so outside of holidays there should be plenty of capacity on the public network. But be warned: in French holidays, autoroute services are extremely busy, and so it would follow that chargepoints are too.
Because French holidays aren’t always the same as UK ones, it pays to do a little research before you leave. The association representing the companies running the autoroutes has a handy traffic forecasting tool here.
Paying for charging in Europe varies from country to country but you will recognise the processes from various UK networks.
In Germany, the government mandated that every new chargepoint must accept debit and credit cards by July 2023, which should make it easier for UK EV drivers to pay for charging there.
To pay for charging in France, though, it’s really important to get your apps up and running before you leave. A lot of charging networks in France require you to have signed up to apps rather than paying by bank or credit card, and even to have pre-loaded your account with money. They’re often run by regional companies or authorities too so there can be far more operators than you get in the UK.
One thing you don’t want to be doing is trying to sign up to a local chargepoint app or website, in a foreign language, in a remote location, using your phone’s signal and trying to load money onto it. It can be a very frustrating and long-winded experience.
In the UK, almost all EV manufacturers use the EU Type 2 connector, or the Combined Charging System (CCS) Combo 2 for faster charging, which is standard across Europe, so there shouldn’t be any problems with plugging in.
If the vehicle is equipped with a CHAdeMO connector - usually from a Japanese manufacturer – then there is still plenty of availability: around 25,000 across Europe at the last count.
Also, and especially if staying in a villa without a wallbox, it might be useful to get an EU adaptor for a granny plug (if there is one with the EV) so it can be charged slowly over a day or two. But check this is allowed with the owner/operator of the accommodation, and also make sure it has been bought from a reputable supplier.
If their EV is used mainly for work purposes, drivers might not be used to what happens when their car is filled with kids and holiday gear, and perhaps even has a topbox or trailer. It will affect range, so try and use the onboard computer to quickly get a feel for consumption, and plan stops accordingly.
Hopefully, they will be heading for warm weather, which means better battery efficiency, and so longer range. But be warned: heavy use of the air con is a range killer. If possible, try and pre-condition the car to make it nice and cool while it’s plugged in before setting off every day.
Plan, plan, plan. And then plan some more. Drivers don’t want to be stuck halfway up the Alps with no charge, or crawling along long stretches of autoroute or autobahn in desperate need of far-off services. Plan routes carefully. There are lots of options and lots of charging points so ensure locations are identified before setting off.
All the usual requirements around insurance, paperwork for leased vehicles, and stickers to display apply for EVs as they do for petrol and diesel vehicles. If drivers need a definitive checklist of what drivers need to do to travel in the EU, we produced a guide last year. You can read it here.