Did you know that an electric vehicle (EV) is almost silent, produces zero carbon emissions, and can save you a significant amount of money? These factors are part of why EVs are coming more into their own as a vehicle option to consider when doing a road trip, whether locally or abroad, if you’re considering hiring a car to explore an exciting new destination.
If you’ve decided that a road trip is the way you’d like to explore your bucket-list destination, and you’re keen to try an electric vehicle as your mode of transport, there are a couple of things that you need to know about travelling in an electric vehicle to ensure that your trip is smooth and enjoyable. Global travel search engine Cheapflights.co.za, that compares deals for flight, hotel and rental cars, gives some very useful and practical tips on taking to the road in an electric vehicle.
Choose your destination with infrastructure in mind
While Europe as a whole has a large number of charging stations, they are not evenly distributed, and some destinations are more charging-station-plush than others. The European countries with the highest number of EV charging stations per 100 km² are the Netherlands, Germany and the UK*. So, if you’re planning to do an eco-friendly road trip in Europe, these are great starting destinations to visit.
Make sure you add EV charging stations into your itinerary when you plan your European travels. Charging stations can be found at petrol stations, many supermarkets, and even a number of hotels have charging stations available on the premises. So check if your hotel does too, or at least where the closest one to your hotel is. There are some great open sources like Openchargemap.org that will help you find a charging station not just in Europe, but across the world.
Explore electric car hire options
Many car hire companies in Europe have electric or hybrid vehicles in their fleets, so you will be able to choose one that fits your needs and your budget – whether you’re a solo or business traveller, or a family exploring some European destinations. Simply use a filter to select electric car hire options to find great car hire deals on Cheapflights. You may be surprised to find out that in many countries the average price for hiring an electrical vehicle might be the same or sometimes even lower than hiring a conventional car. According to Cheapflights search data, the average daily rates for green car hires globally (about 47 EUR/day) are about 31% lower than for a conventional vehicle (about 68 EUR/day)**.
Calculate budget for your route and check payment options
Charging your car might be cheaper than fueling the tank, but it is not free. Travellers can check the estimated prices for driving your chosen route with the help of Cheapflights’ trip calculator, which allows travellers to find out what the total cost of a car journey is, including fuel or electric vehicle charging costs as well as any other rental charges.
And make sure you’ve got a payment type that will be accepted by the charging stations you’re headed for, like this pass that’s accepted at stations across Europe.
Planning your time is a key
When stopping at a public charging station, keep in mind that there are different chargers which charge at different speeds. Do your research beforehand to see what chargers are available at a station you are stopping at, and plan the length of your stop accordingly. For example, a slow charge with up to a 3kWh charger could take eight to 10 hours to fully charge your car – these could be chargers at your hotel or accommodation spot. A 22kWh charger (those usually found in car parks or at supermarkets) could take three to four hours to fully charge. And a rapid charge – 150kWh – will take you 30 to 60 minutes for a full charge. The challenge with using a rapid charge is that these chargers are only compatible with rapid-charging function EVs.
Charge your car when you are sleeping
But stop-over charging is always an option – whether you stop for a break while on your journey (which is always advisable anyway), or overnight somewhere and charge your vehicle while you recharge yourself through a good night’s sleep. For stop-over charging most EVs will have a charging cable that allows you to charge your car from a standard wall socket.
Do make sure to alert the accommodation provider or stop-over facility owner before you plug your car in to charge. Charging your EV will drive up the establishment’s electricity bill, and some facility providers may charge you for the electricity used to charge your car.
Get perks when driving sustainably
In some countries you might expect to be treated like a VIP for driving an EV. In Norway, for example, you can take advantage of free parking and the use of bus lanes during rush hour traffic. Plus, there’s no shortage of charging stations, so there’s never a worry that you’ll get stuck.
Moving forward slowly to electrifying your journey
Taking a road trip in an electric vehicle can definitely add a new level of excitement to your journey. Just remember that driving without sudden and strong accelerations can increase efficiency of your car. Also, EV batteries don’t do well in constant start/stop mode. So check ahead for any days at your destination when you suspect lots of traffic, like the start or the end of a public holiday, and try to stay away from going there that day.