Stelvio or Bust.

It sort of a tradition that we take all our cars up to the top of the Stelvio pass during the first summer that we have them. For the Ioniq, this was delayed a few times, but at last it was now time to do the trip.

We left Munich at about 8am with 80% or so charge and headed down the A95 towards Garmisch. I had it in mind there was a rapid charger at and A.T.U. between Garmisch and Lermos so when we arrived at the A.T.U. and found no charger I was confused and a bit worried, as I now only had about 20Km range. Our only option was to return to Garmisch and plug into a 22kW type 2 from New Motion. I am certain it is not a 22Kw connection, as the car told me it would take 8 hours to charge. This would suggest the charger was only providing about 4kW I think. After an hour we had an increase of 18Km. We decided to continue to Lermos where we charged for another 30 minutes and had an increase of 25Km. This gave us enough range to get to the Ella rapid charger at Karrösten. it was now 12:30. I had imagined we would have been at Stelvio by this time.

After the rapid charge was completed, it was time to goto Malles Venosta in Italy where I planned to have a rapid charge before the accent of the Stelvio. As with the rest of the trip up-to now, this didn’t go to plan. The charger is on a public square in the centre of the old town. As luck would have it, the square was closed due to a village festival. The only other charges are both slow type 2 belonging to hotels and one of those is out of action since July so I decided with 110Km range, that we had enough range to get to Bormio where we would charge over lunch before returning over the other side of the Stelvio. From Malles Venosta to the top of Stelvio is about 20Km, and then from there to Bormio about 30Km. So it shouldn’t be a problem

The drive up the Stelvio is not recommended for new drivers or people who are not confident. Its narrow with a lot of kamikaze motorcyclists going way to fast around blind bends and cutting the corners of the hairpin bends. Going up the mountain I had several occasions where I had to stop because of this and because of other cars coming down the hill that refused to give way on narrow stages. I was always taught that those coming uphill have priority unless otherwise signed, this doesn’t appear to be the case in Italy.

From our initial 110Km at the foot of the pass, by the time we were half way up, we were down to 40Km. by the last 5 turns I was at two bars on the battery meter, and I had doubts we would make the top. On reaching the top we had 8Km range left and of course there are no chargers or even 240V power points anywhere to be seen. We parked up and went for a pizza, and asked the owner if there was anywhere to plug in. As expected the answer was no. I didn’t really enjoy the pizza for some reason. The top of Stelvio is a mess of parked bikes and tourist trap stores. We didn’t look at any. I usually enjoy the view from the top, and usually spend a bit of time looking at the stores, but today I was very worried about how we would get the 40Km+ to the next charger.

Isn’t regenerative breaking a great thing?

On restarting the car and leaving the parking place we had 7Km range. using a combination of regeneration step 1 & 2 we dropped the 16Km long 2000 meter drop, 48 hairpin bed road and recovered to 62Km in range. in addition we used no power at all actually going down the road, effectively we had 71Km of fuel free travel. We headed to the closest rapid charger at Lasa. There were conflicting reports about the status of this rapid charger. One said it had been removed and was being upgraded, another said it was getting the price info and that it was all ok and operational. The former proved to be correct. The charge point has gone. So we continued onto Silandro and charged there instead. The RFID cards proved to be an issue. Maingau/ESL was refused, as was Ella, SWM, Hyundai/enbw, Smatrics, and Chargemap. It finally worked with Plug Surfing. The next stop was Brenner. No issues there. For the Tesla owners, the supercharger has been expanded to 16 bays, and the CCS charger has been moved along 2 bays. There are 2 empty concrete bases, so it looks as if extra CCS may soon be installed. The type 2 charger has also been moved over and replaced with another type I think.The rest of the trip from Brenner to Munich went without any real issue, except an SUV/Tank trying to run me off the road at the Brenner bridge video toll gate. We arrived back in Munich at around 11:00pm with 90Km range left. The total distance was some 650Km. I didn’t record the kWh/100Km.

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To France for first time in the EV

My wife’s family live between Le Man’s & Tours in West France, so we drive there a couple of times a year. This journey was the one thing that was putting me off getting an EV. The charging structure in Sartre is really bad. My impression of charging generally in France was not positive. There are plenty if type 2, lots of type 3c, but not so many CCS ( or CHAdeMO for that matter). 

I has searched all the charging apps for CCS on the route I take from Munich for many many hours and came to the conclusion that it would be difficult to make the trip. Between Auxerre and Tours a distance of about 300km there was no rapid chargers that are operational. There was an option via Paris which I hate, but again the last 300km has only 1 rapid charger, and if that is broken there is no fallback. 

The other, preferred, optional route has a charger at a LIDL that according to Chargemap has been out of order since last November. I sent a series of emails to LIDL France and the emphatically stayed the charger us operational. Using this route I could probably reach my in-laws without a great problem. Once we get there we would have to use the granny charger at it’s low power setting. My in-laws only have a 6.6kW supply into the property!

We have for many years now split the drive over 2 days. First to Beaune, and then the rest, so this time was not going to be different. I booked a room at the Mercure Beaune Centre hotel partially because of its location and partially because it has chargers. Most of the chargers were Tesla Superchargers, but they had one charger with Type 2, Type 3c and 2 pin 240V sockets.  On arrival, and plugging into the type 2 we discovered the charger wasn’t compatible with the the Ioniq for some reason. We kept getting “Charger Error” displayed in the Ioniq, and the charger never started charging. We reported this to the hotel, but they couldn’t do anything as the maintenance people had left for the day. So we had to charge with the granny charger. The hotel did say they would get the maintenance guys to look into it on Monday. 

The following day we drove via Chateau Chinon-Ville, and as expected the Lidl charger was out of action. It was powered off, and covered in cobwebs. So much for the assurance from Lidl  that the point was functional. My plan B was to charge at Magny Cours, and that was a faster charger and fully functional.

The rest of the trip to the in-laws was uneventful really, except we discovered a new rapid charger at Neuillé-Pont-Pierre on the A28 (at the exit after the toll booth, which is about 35Km from our final destination. This was excellent as it meant we didn’t have to load down my in-laws house with our granny charger. My in-laws house is only provided with a 6kW electricity supply as it is in the middle of nowhere and they have only a few fridges and thats about it.  During our stay we topped up a few times at the local supermarket on a type 2, and on a day trip we failed to charge at a type 2 at Montreuil-Bellay. The charger had 2 type 2 sockets. one was in use by a Tesla and they were charging, but the second socket gave us the same error as at the hotel. It did finally say it was charging, but it terminated about 2 minutes after we left, resulting in a bill for 45 minutes charging for 0.01kW.  I successfully challenged the bill later.

New Rapid charger at Neuillé-Pont-PierreThe return trip we did a bit differently. We headed along the A10 towards Orleans, charging at Villerbon which is finally in operation, and then cross country to Charny. In the car park of the supermarket we found a type 2 socket which we plugged into whilst we had a very nice lunch at a local restaurant. Much to my surprise the Maingau/ESL card worked here. We increased out charge by 35%.

After lunch we continued to the Autoroute A8 at Sépeaux where there is a rapid charger. Unfortunately this charger is not yet in operation, o we had to continue across country to Aillant-sur-Tholon which is a really small town that has a rapid charger next to the church. On arrival there was a Zoe which was just finishing its charge, so a short wait of 5 minutes was on the cards. This was the first time we had to wait for a charger during this trip, but half an hour later we were fully charged and on our way again via the A8 to Beaune and back to the Mercure Beaune Centre hotel.  At the hotel, the type 2 charger still wasn’t operational, and again the technician wasn’t available. The hotel received a written feedback on this when I received their satisfaction survey. Anyway, we charged again overnight on the “granny charger” and continued the next day in the direction Mulhouse and Germany.

In Germany I also wanted to try a different route. For some reason in the south west of Germany chargers are few and far between except on the Autobahn. Just before Freiburg we charged on the motorway to 94% and then headed to Tuttlingen. According to the apps there was a rapid charger at the VW dealership which may or my not be operational, depending which app you look at. otherwise, there are a few type 2 around. On arrival at the VW dealer, the road was dug up and it was not possible to access the dealership. At least so it appeared. I parked close by and took a walk around, eventually asking someone on a bike in the forecourt. The dealership had an access via a back road, so we were able to reach the charger and get fully charged again.  I had planned a stop at Memmingen but the rapid charger there is broken, and has been for a couple of months. The CCS doesn’t recognise any vehicles. As our charge level was getting a bit low, i need a charge so our next stop was at Autohaus Sangl, where we originally purchased our Ioniq. There there is a free 20Kw CCS. On arrival the park bay was blocked by an i3 that had stretched its charge cable over to a type 2 charger in the next (and empty) parking bay. My only options were to park on the pavement or block the entrance to the parking.  I chose the former and no sooner had I plugged in that I was verbally assaulted by an older couple for blocking the pavement and received threats that they would call the police and get me towed away. Whilst they were technically in the right, the way they spoke to me telling me “in Germany we obey the law, which obviously isn’t the case where you come from” was out of order. After I calmly explained to them why I was there, and explained that I was unable to drive further unless I charged as this was the equivalent of a petrol station for me, they calmed down and we had a chat about range and charging duration. They went on their way and I finished my charge.

We arrived home an hour or so later, tired but happy.

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