10,000 Km

Over the last 15 years or so, I have averaged around 10,000Km per year, so when I got the Ioniq I insured it for 15,000Km as being a new toy I was sure we would drive it a bit more. We had also decided we would take a holiday to Norway in June, so that will probably be at least 6,000Km round trip. So a bit of a buffer would be good. However after only 4 months we had already passed 10,000Km. As a result I increased my cover to 30,000Km back at the beginning of March. I hope that will be enough!

It seams to be a common theme amongst EV drivers that they end up driving far more than was the case previously in a “Suck, Squeeze, Bang, Blow” car. Why should this be? I can only speak about my own usage, but I find that there is a certain delight in driving a vehicle that is relaxing to drive. The noise level in the car is dramatically lower than in a conventional internal combustion engine. There is of course still tire and wind noise but the level is generally low, and usually masked by the radio anyway. The “instant” acceleration, the challenge to get the best range on a charge and just a different driving experience are all part of the equation. In the end driving an EV is just fun.

An EV does not encourage high speed, long endurance driving either, although the car is capable of 170Kmh such speeds make no sense due to consumption. The Ioniq battery is a usable 28Kwh, which is quite small, so you are more of less forced to stop to recharge every couple of hours or so depending on the road, speed, time of year, weather etc, or to put it another way every 150-170Km in Winter and every 220-250Km in summer. Personally, I have no problem with this as after 2 hours driving I need a break anyway to stretch my legs, have a drink or goto the toilet. This forced break is one of the objections I have heard from non-EV drivers and a reason that EV’s are not practical. These people often claim they will drive 800Km on a tank of fuel non-stop.

Personally, I call this total Bull.

Once upon a time,  I use to drive Munich to Cambridge or Munich to Le Mans in a day. Each trip was 1200Km or so, but always needed to stop. There was no way I could drive for 12 hours without a toilet break or something to eat, not to mention the dangers of getting overtired and stressed out. So over the last 15 years or so I have taken it a lot more relaxed when driving long distances. On the trip to Le Mans, I usually stop overnight in Burgundy, and have a a good meal and a refreshing sleep. Even so, the 700Km to Beaune from Munich we stop every couple of hours or so. The stops are typically 20 minutes or so, which, coincidentally is the time it takes to recharge the Ioniq from around 20% to 94%. This means that our trip really doesn’t take much longer than with our previous car. We may need to stop a couple of times more than we would otherwise, but it really isn’t much.

At least in theory.

We have not yet driven to Le Mans in the EV, that trip will be in July. I do have concerns about driving in France. I have seen some really bad reports about charging in France from Frank Doorhof (youtube Link), as well as “adventures” from other people.  One of the areas I need to pass through has only 1 rapid charger at a Lidl, and if that is out of commission, there are no alternatives except the granny charger in a domestic socket somewhere, and at our destination there are a few slow type 2 plugs in nearby villages. Having said that, it does look like some new rapid chargers are being installed at an autoroute exit about 20Km away from our destination, so there is hope. There is still a 240Km “gap” that I need to find a solution for. I could take an alternative route via Paris and the Périphérique, but I really, really hate that road. When eventually the chargers near Orleans are up and running again, it will be a lot easier. Still, until then West France is an area of concern for me.

As for the chargers at Lidl and co, I think they are super and I am really thankful to the companies concerned that they provide these charger. I do wish however they were available 24/7. I would rather have a charger open 24/7 that I have to pay for than one that is only open in business hours but free. Maybe they could somehow get connected to a charging network for the hours they are closed so we could pay for them outside of store hours ?

 

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Buying a Second EV

Because our garage is quite a way from our apartment, I have to take a bus to get to it, or have a 15-20 minute walk. I had been playing with the idea for a while to get a folding e-bike or similar. Most however are at least €1000 and quite heavy and as I have back problems, something heavy I have to lift in and out of the car is really a non starter. I did see one pedelec that folded and was a reasonable price about €600 or so but it had the tinyest wheels imaginable, and felt a bit flimsy. On the other had it weighed only 10Kg and contrary to the other folding e-bikes, it was tiny when folded. The wheel size was my main concern so I started to look at other options.

I also looked into the K1 Hammer, a really good folding e-bike that is authorised for use on German roads in the same class as a moped. Priced at around €1600, it was more than I wanted to pay, but the main issue was when folded, it was too long to fit in the back of the Ioniq.

I had often wondered what a Segway was like to ride, but due to the exorbitant price, almost that of a small car, I had never looked into getting one. There is a company in China called Ninebot. I think they were a startup financed by a company that makes mobile phones, Xiaomi. In short, Ninebot copied Segway, Segway Sued Ninebot, Ninebot took over Segway. As a result Ninebot now sell Segway type personal transportation devices under the name Ninebot by Segway. One device I was interested in and nearly bought was the Ninebot Elite. Priced again at €1600, the main problem is the size and weight. Again too heavy for me to life safely and probably a bit big for the the back of the Ioniq. There is also another model called NineBot Mini Pro, or in Germany called Ninebot Mini Street. This also has authorisation for use on the road in Germany and at circa €700 was an ok price.

So I bought one. Now, the advertising wasn’t exactly accurate on the German road authorisation, because you need 2 items. First is a technical test from Dekra or TÜV, and second, you need an ABE (Permission for General Use). There was no ABE for the NineBot Mini Street. In itself, not a great problem, “just” goto the bureaucrat’s get a stamp on a document and thats it. Well, first problem is I was directed to the wrong office and after a 30 minute wait, my turn came around, and they said not here, go over there to room 131.  There was no waiting time at that office, but they were not happy with my Dekra certificate. This certificate may not be over 18 months old. Listening to them I found out they had had a lot of these Ninebots come in and all checked by the same engineer back in 2016. They were just telling me they couldn’t accept the certificate when one of the two officials realised the certificate was 2 weeks under the 18 month limit. So they gave me a ticket and told me to wait. An hour later, I was called back in and they gave me a bill for €40 to pay, and when paid I got my documents to get insurance.  My insurance plates arrived the following Monday, so now I can use the Ninebot to get to the car and back, and its street legal. Its also good fun to ride as well. Generally it is to be ridden on cylce paths, but can also be used on side roads and pavements (to a limited extent). The range is supposedly unto 25Km or so, but I wouldn’t want to ride it so far. It can also go upto 18Km/h so a bike helmet and pads like an inline skater is also a good idea.

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Regensburg and the Hundertwasser Turm

Time for another day trip. This time a quick trip to Regensburg. We charged for free at the Autobahn station Pentling. Its only 20Kw but free is free. After watching an airport shuttle park in 2 of the 4 available EV charging parking places (there is only 1 charger at present) and just sie there for no reason, we continued into Regensburg itself. I had read in advance that charging in Regensburg is difficult at best, due to the local mayors politics, so it didn’t surprise me to see only 2 charging point, a slow one. But at least it wasn’t blocked. Due to the local policy of not towing away cars blocking chargers, and instead issuing only a parking ticket for 15€, its cheaper to pay the fine than to park all day in a garage. So those chargers there are are often blocked.

Following a walk around the city we decided to start the trip home. We had often seen the sign on the Autobahn for the Hundertwasser Turm at Abensberg but we had never stopped there. The town is a bit off route, but we went anyway. There is one charging point next to the “Altes E-Werk” which has two type 2 connectors and standard power sockets. Again, this charge point is free and delivers up to 22Kw. As we plugged in, another Ioniq pulled up with stickers from Autohaus Sanlg, the dealer where we purchased out car, but the driver said the car had nothing to do with Sangl, he was just giving free advertising for him.

In Abensberg itself we were just in time to be too late for a fete. The town is attractive in the center. Small however. The Hundertwasser Turm is a part of the local brewery. It it possible to tour the inside, but it was a bit too late. The cost of a tour is €18 per adult.

On returning to our car a good 90 mins later, we drove across country back to the Autobahn, and passed filed after field of what looked like brand new cars all in storage. There must have been a few tens of thousands of vehicles  of all makes, mostly SUV. I have no idea why they are there, but as a distribution central in fields? Seams unlikely.

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Lets go for a short drive.

And so another weekend comes around. Saturday I must work, as so often, but Sunday the weather was sunny, if a bit cold, and I was free. So after a slow breakfast we decided we would go for a short drive, maybe to Mindelheim. We had often passed by Mindelheim and once stopped for a pizza, but we had never visited it. We set of in a fully charged and heated car. As we were leaving Munich, I had a change of mind. Mindelheim would be closed, its Sunday, and I didn’t feel like walking too much so I suggested we just when wherever we ended up. Our short drive ended up going down towards Fussen, crossing over into Austria, over Telfs, through Nauders down to Lago di Resia, which is where there is a church tower sticking out of the water. The history of Lago di Resia and the villages that were destroyed is worth reading about.

We continued up the pass in sleet and fog to Sluderno, and followed the road to Merano. Its is a pretty area we have not driven through before as we usually go up the Stelvio pass, which is currently closed due to winter. As time was getting on, and I don’t yet trust charging in Italy, so didn’t want to drive down to Bolzano, I thought it would be best to go back over the Jaufenpass. In retrospect maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. The pass was open. What it didn’t say was that it was open until 18:00. We got to the start 17:50 but started started the accent. At first all was good. not much traffic, and a nice drive. After a while though it started to snow. By the time we got to the top we were in about 5cm of snow, and it was steadily increasing. It was not an option to turn around. There was another car behind us which couldn’t wait to overtake but I refused to go faster than what I considered safe. Once we reached to top, then the difficult part started. The decent on the north side off the mountain in fresh snow. I went very slow with regenerative breaking at the maximum step to keep speed down. Basically we just rolled down at about 15Kmh until conditions improved. Once we got to the snow line, things improved rapidly and we got a good regen and a fairly rapid decent. Still, it was not the nicest part of the drive.

Arriving at Vipiteno, it was a quick drive up the Autostrada to the Tesla superchargers at the Plessi Museum where there is also a CCS rapid charger. This charger is also free. I sometimes wonder why they put chargers at the top of a mountain when its possible to regen going down, but still, its an ok location. Charged to 94% we started the decent down the Brenner and I expected to have to recharge at Völs but when we got there I was still at 95% so I carried on over Garmisch towards Munich. In the end we didn’t need another charge before home, as I tucked in behind a coach and actually saw my expected range increase. At Garmisch the cars systems said I would not have enough charge to get home, by the time we got to Munich, it said we would have 25Km left. In the end when I connected tot he charger nt e garage, I had 31Km range left.

So, our short drive turned into 680Km.

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Ah Vienna

Chantal was registered for the Vienna Marathon in 2017, but due to a fractured kneecap, she was unable to take part. We still went to Vienna as Chantal had wanted to go for a long time, but due to her injury, and the terrible weather, we didn’t really see very much.

In February 2018, Apple opened an new store, the first in Austria. As I like to visit new Apple stores, I suggested to Chantal that we went to Vienna for the weekend. She immediately said yes. So about 7am we jumped in the fully charged preheated Ioniq and set off for the circa 500Km drive to a hotel right in the middle of the city. In comparison to the trip to Brno, I decided not to go to Austria via Rosenheim but towards Passau and cross into Austria near Branau am Inn. I find this route is more relaxed compared to the rather overcrowded and fast A8. As a side effect, its also a bit shorter route.

The weather was cold. Very cold at about -5c or colder. Our first charging stop was at Frixing, and the second at Branau am Inn where there is a charge in a shopping center carpark. Last time we were here, it was late at night and the carpark was closed. The position of the charge point is right at the edge of the parking and it would be possible to park on the pavement to charge, but we just opened the barrier and went into the car park, making sure we closed it again when we left. On this occasion the charger was occupied by an e-golf that was plugged into the charger, but not charging. It looked as if the charing had just finished as the point’s display said something like charging finished. I plugged our car in to charge and waited by the car. The e-golf owner came back a few minutes later and I told him we had moved over the connector as he had finished. He was quiet happy about it. As far as I am concerned if the charging has finished, there is no problem with moving the cable. Some people, however, don’t think its ok.

We drove a little bit off the Autobahn for a while before rejoining it and eventually charged at Wels. Further along the Autobahn we charged at Loosdorf, and then St Pölten (Lidl). The hotel in the center of Vienna we reached at about 15:00. When I booked the hotel, I specifically chose one that said it had a charging point. In reality however, it didn’t even have a garage. Instead, they directed us to a public parking at Franz Josef Kai, which has Wien Energy charge points. My New Motion, Plugsurfing and other cards didn’t work with Wien Energy. The hotel also had no card for Wien Energy.

When I was considering going to Vienna, I had looked at the charging systems and noticed that most of the points appeared to be from Wien Energy, so after a few messages from others about a special price that was being offered, I applied on line for an RFID card. A few days later the card was in my mailbox. Great, but … I then had to send in a written contract, wait for the reply, then they sent another letter saying the card would be activated a week later. All in all it took nearly 3 weeks to get the card and activate it. In the mean time I had been to and returned from Vienna. So the whole application was a waste of time. However, I had the card in my wallet, and in the Franz Josef Kai car park, even thought the Wien Energy card was not “activated”, it did start the charger. I don’t know when or if I will receive a bill for this single charge, but so far I have heard nothing.

In Vienna we spotted an Ioniq Taxi. I have seen many Electric Taxis over the last few years, mostly Tesla, and Leaf taxis but this was the first Ioniq Taxi I have seen.

The return trip on Sunday was uneventful and we used chargers at Altlengbach, St Pölten (where instead of Lidl we charged at the “Landhaus vor Haus 17” which is rather slow at only 20Kw, but free), St Valentine, St. Martin im Inn Kreis and Frixing. I have come to the conclusion that driving longer distances at night or on Sundays can be an issue as a lot of rapid chargers at shops and centres are closed.

In total the round trip was 880Km and cost circa €48.

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Chemnitz

Unusually I had 3 days off in a row from work, so we decided to take a mini break. We wanted somewhere not too far away, and place we had never been to before. Chemnitz was decided upon. The trip was very uneventful in both directions. We drove we charged once we drove on. Thats about all there is to say about the trip there and back.

And how about Chemnitz? Well I can sum it up in 4 words. Been there, done that.  It’s not that Chemnitz is uninteresting, its more, how can I say, uninspiring. The major tourist attraction is and oversized bust of Karl Marx, apart from that there is, frankly, not much.

Ok, so how about charging infrastructure? Well, there is 1 rapid charger a few Km outside the city on the Autobahn going from Dresden to Chemnitz, none in the other direction. There is a type 2 charger in the Galleria car park, which can be started with a local RFID card or SMS, but the parking costs a couple of Euro per hour. We did find a type 2 charger on the street about 10 mins walk from the hotel outside the IHK building. This can be started by SMS and you can stay connected for upto 4 hours. We were of course charged for the SMS at standard rates, but I never saw a charge for the charging. e charged to 100% and then re-parked to the hotels car park.The hotel said they could not provide charging “for liability reasons” What?

The next day we drove to Coldiz Castle, famous to Brits as a WWII POW prison and the  subject of films, books and even board games. I visited the castle back in 1990 not long after the fall of the DDR. Since then there have been a lot of changes at the castle, and the town of Colditz. The town is quite nice, but the tourist office looked at us like we were from Mars when we asked if there were any charging points for Electric vehicles in town. Needless to say, there are none. Chantal had never been in the area so the tour of the castle was new to her and I think she enjoyed it. We were there just after some massive storms which caused quite a lot of damaged to the Castle, and they were already doing repair works. The car park was partially dug up as well. It turned out that our guide was half British so we had quite a long chat to him after the tour. We mentioned we were in an EV and that it would be good if they could get a charger installed as Colditz was a black spot, and a charger would attract EV tourists. I was pleased to hear him say it was already planned.

Currently the area around Chemnitz is a very black hole for EV tours.

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The search continues in Brno

Following on from our failed search for a cat, we had made contact with someone in Brno (CZ), who had some ragdoll kittens for sale. She offered to come to Munich so we could see them,but we said we would goto her. It would be less stress for the kittens if we didnt want them and we could see the mother and father as well. The only problem is the Czech EV charging network. The only access to it is with a contract at €15 a month. They are not connected to any roaming network, nor is there a pay as you go possibility. I took the step of writing to the network owners telling them how tourist unfriendly there network is, and I actually got a reply which in a nutshell said. “so what!”.

This mean of course the best route over Prague was a nonstarter for us. The best alternative was to drive to Vienna,and then go straight north via the shortest route possible, and back the same way. Each way would be close to 600Km. As this probably wasn’t going to be possible to go there and back in a day, I looked for a hotel in Brno with a charger. I found one that had a Tesla destination charger. I emailed them and they confirmed they had 2 points. This meant that one was free for non-tesla usage as well. A trip of 600Km was going to be our longest trip to date. I already had a Smatrics app and account so I foresaw no major issues with charging.

Going to Brno we charged 9 times. The motorway was taking its toll and it was very cold.  Our last charge in Austria was at Hochleiten and it was with a very uneasy feeling that I entered the Czech republic. The destination in Brno was about 90Km away, so if the hotel charger didn’t work, I would have enough charge to get about half the way back to the charger.

Arriving at the border to the Czech republic, I had to buy a toll sticker, and whilst chatting to guy at the kiosk, he told me there was a charger at Lidl in Brno. For some reason I hadn’t seen this listed in any of my charge point apps. A quick google search and I had the address of Lidl in my navi and we headed there first. On arrival I was surprised to see the point blocked my a Nissan EV-200 which was charging. I plugged into the Type 2, as I had no idea if or when the owner of the EV-200 would return, and as I turned around he returned. We had a quick chat and he explained to me that the point was relatively new, and Lidl was rolling out more chargers around the country. As he left, I moved over to the CCS and got a full charge and did some shopping. It turned out Lidl had an English week with all sorts of English food goodies (all made in Holland!). Arriving at the hotel, I pugged into the destination charger to top upto 100%

We bought two Ragdolls from the breeder and set off for home on Sunday. Brno looks like an nice place to visit sometime, when its warm. As we had the two kittens in the car, we didn’t look around. On the way home we took a different route and only recharged 5 times. It was still bitterly cold. One thing that irritates me a bit is that some chargers close on Sundays, and after shopping hours. Now I understand Lidl & Co put in the chargers to attract customers, and that is super, but I think it might be a two edged sword as the local councils my have less incentive to install rapid chargers. This in turn means outside of store hours transit traffic can have problems getting a charge. Please Lidl & Co leave the chargers on 24/7, even if that means we have to use a roaming card like Plugsurfing or The NewMotion to pay for the chargers. Free is good, open 24/7 is better.

I found charging in Austria to be expensive. The distance covered was 1193Km and the total electricity cost was €108,76 which works out at almost 11 cent per Km. The killer in these cost were the adhoc charging rate and the €1 start charge. The charge locations and costs are below.

New Motion

Frixing €‎ 5.67

Smatrics

5280 Braunau am Inn €‎ 9.05

Smatrics

4300 St. Valentin €‎ 14.90

Smatrics

3500 Krems €‎ 13.37

Smatrics

2123 Hochleiten €‎ 14.27

Free

Hotel Advanti €‎ 0.00

Free

Brno €‎ 0.00

Smatrics

2123 Hochleiten €‎ 15.09

Smatrics

Stockerau €‎ 6.65

Smatrics

3373 Bergland €‎ 13.57

New Motion

Amstetten €‎ 1.68

Free

Gmunden €‎ 0.00

Smatrics

Piding €‎ 13.11

Plug Surfing

McDonald’s €‎ 0.00

Free

Park One €‎ 0.00

 

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Looking for a Ragdoll

It was empty in the apartment without a cat so we started looking around and decided on a ragdoll, which in tern mean we had to make trips to visit breeders. One weekend we visited 2 breeders in the Bayerischer Wald and somewhere east of Nuremberg neither had what we were looking for, but it did confirm the type of cat. Even thought we didn’t find what we were looking for the trips in the area were excellent. Both areas were places we had never been to before and certainly and area that in summer I will drive in again.

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A sad day

I am a cat person. We had a really lovely cat called Cyclops. She was so named because she only had one eye. She was as daft as a bat, very loving and a stay at home cat. She would spend the whole day on the balcony during the summer and never once tried to leave its safety. She was also quite a sick cat. When we got her, at the age of 6 months,  we were told she would only live a year or so. Toward the end of 2017 she started to deteriorate rapidly. She was 9 years old. Its always sad to loose a loved pet, especially one who was so loving, but we had to let her go for her own good. We didn’t want to see her suffer. 

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Car tax demand. Are you joking ?

When you buy an EV in Germany, you gat a few advantages from the state, such as the €4000 refund on the purchase price. Strictly speaking its €2000 with a matching €2000 from the EV maker. This is in addition to any other discount you maybe able to negotiate. I didn’t need to negotiate, our dealer gave a very fair price without asking bringing the car about €7000 below list price.

You also get a 10 year no road tax period. The strange thing is you still get a tax demand payable in 10 years time by direct debit. I have forgotten how much the demand is for, I think something silly like €10 or €50. In any case, I doubt in 10 years time we will still own this car.

Additionally you can get a numberplate with an E at the end. In some areas this gives privileges such as free parking or bus lane usage. The only problem is this is regulated at the local, not national, level, so you never know whats allowed or not. So in practice, there is little advantage in having an E plate, but at least there is no extra charge to have it.

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