Students find free power almost everywhere
A ROADTRIP with an electric car, would that be possible? Wouter van der Wal along with a group of five friends took the challenge last summer.
“The first obstacle was the electric car itself, which we didn’t have,” he explained to Wheels in a statement.
“We created a pitch video and website to send to various car brands.
“The proposal: an electric car for three weeks in exchange for a movie about our trip. It was already mid- June, a month before take- off. Fortunately, Kia was quick to respond and decided to join the mission.
“They lent us the electric Kia Soul EV and a Kia Picanto on gasoline. Perfect reference material, it turned out.
“The Soul EV has a day- today range of about 160 km; after Tesla one of the cars with the best range. On top, it is relatively spacious.” Perfect for a road trip! In three weeks they drove almost 4 500 kilometres through 10 countries in Europe.
Van der Wal said they experienced the current state of the European charging network, learned the ins and outs of electric driving and meanwhile had a great holiday.
“Without any electric driving experience, it was hard to estimate the distance we could travel in a day and the time we would have left for adventure.”
The first thing they learnt was that Europe still needed a lot of charging points.
“[ On the first day] after we cross the Dutch border close to Maastricht, we discover that it is a national holiday in Belgium. Not only are all the shops closed, so is our first charging location at the Belgian supermarket Delhaize.
“The remaining two alternative chargers follow the same logic: company closed, charger closed.
“It requires some clandestine wiretapping to reach the border of Luxembourg. Here, we can finally plug the Soul into a functioning charger.”
The Alps proved no problem for the Kia’s 285 Nm, all which Newtons are directly available from zero rpm. And regenerative braking meant the steep downhill sections just added to the battery range.
The students’ biggest concern, that of fuel costs, dissapeared in Italy and France, where free charging of electric vehicles is encouraged in several cities.
Even when they paid, charging in general was very cheap, said Van der Wal. In total the group paid less then R880 to travel 4 486 km, including tolls and parking fees, mostly be- cause chargers were free.
“As Industrial Design students, we’re excited about the opportunities of new technologies.
“With this trip we want to show that range anxiety is something of the past.
“In our experience this issue is as much about the current range of electric vehicles as it is about the charging infrastructure.”
Van der Wal said many chargers they used were less than a year old, and they popped up from various directions, from stores to private homes.
“Compared to travel experiences of EV enthusiasts in past years, we see big improvements in coverage of fast chargers in Europe,” he said. • Read their retrospect on the trip at: https://electricroadmov-ie.atavist.com/en
FROM LEFT: Yannick Brouwer, Daphne Lamberts, Wouter van der Wal, Joch Jansz, Rachel Rietdijk and Gijs de Boer in Nancy, France.