Namlos and Bschlaber Tals

It was Whitsuntide and Whitsunday the weather was not good so the tour we had planned was postponed to Monday. At least it wasn’t so bad Monday, so it was down to the car and time for a tour. I wanted to try out a video camera in the car to record the drive as well, so first I spent a few minuted setting that up in the car.

The plan was to go via Linderhof to the Namlos Tal. I had never heard of this place e, but it is not really so far away. The drive was easy of course, but my concern was where to charge. According to the apps I have, there are no rapid chargers in the area, only a couple of type 2, and I really don’t want to hang around in the middle of nowhere to charge for hours on end. So I chose the BMW hotel at Ammerwald where there is a free CCS. Its also a good place to stop for a coffee and the toilet. I arrived with about 43% charge, and the car told me I would need about 30 minutes to reach a full charge. Charge started timer on iPhone set and off to the hotel. 25 minutes later we returned to find the car had not charged. The charge had failed with a communication error after only 5 minutes. Annoying. Anyway,Chantal went for a short walk, and I stayed at the car and monitored the charge until it ended. It only took 15 minutes. The road is nice in this area, typical Austrian tan road with a nice lake to one side. It is not a fast road, but it is relaxing.

We reached the Namlos Tal easily and had a pleasant drive along the valley. It is an attractive place only 10Km or so long. However, the number of crazy motorcyclists driving way to fast and often on the wrong side of the road spots it. The motorbikes also make it a very noisy place. Our charge level was very good, I don’t remember how high it was but the drive up to the top of the valley and the decent basically more or less cancelled out.

So there was no need to look for a charger and we decided to have another pass, this time the Bschlabertal, also an unknown valley for me. The peak of the Bschlabertal is about 1900m I think. It is very bleak and there was still quiet a bit of snow off to the side of the road. The decent is quiet narrow and very windy, with an impressive view. As a driver you feel like your on a ledge on the side of the cliff. In addition there was also again a large number of mad motorcyclists risking their lives. Crash at those speeds on that road and you won’t live to tell the tale, you could easily end up smashed against the cliff or catapult over the railings and fall to your death.

After the Bschlabertal We decided to start home as the weather was deteriorating. First we needed to get a quick top up, from 65% to make it home. We went to a charger at Ötztal-Bahnhof and used the Maingau charge card where we fully charged in about 15 minutes. We returned home via Mittenwald and the Kochelsee. This was a mistake as we had a 45 minute delay due to traffic at Kochel. Something I also noticed is that the navigation in the Ioniq is sometimes very strange on its routing algorithm. I had selected Fastest route no motorway, expecting it to put me more or less parallel to the Munich autobahn, but instead of heading toward Munich, it took me due east and then north, brining me into Munich from the south east. We were originally south west of Munich, and there is a nice fast road which goes most of the way. The route it took was through a lot of winding side roads. Very strange.

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Romeo, Romeo, therefor art thou Romeo? Or to put it another way, lets goto Verona!

Italy has been outside my comfort zone when it comes to using my Ioniq Electric. To understand why we need to go back a couple of years to the time when we were first considering the possibility of going electric.

We had driven in our hybrid to Milan, an attractive city, at least in the center, and we were looking to see where the charging points were. We didn’t see many, in fact as I remember we saw 1 rapid charger and a couple of slower chargers, possibly type 3c. On the drive back to Munich, we decided that we would simulate an EV with a range of 200 Km and stop at recharging points on route. We didn’t find any rapid chargers but 1 slow charger. I  think we had the New Motion charge app with us at the time but I am not 100% sure. In any case we came to the conclusion that Italy was “difficult” for charging.

So back to the recent past and we now had our Ioniq Electric and we decided to make a tentative exploration into Italy. I had read in the GoingElectric forum of other users and trips to Italy, and one of them showed pictures of a rapid charger at the Brenner Pass. So, we decided to go there, and if possible a bit further. It was winter and therefore our range was limited. On reaching the top of the pass we drove into Brenner town, and looked without success for the charger. We saw a local police car, so we asked them where the EV charging was, and they said there wasn’t any but maybe in Vipitino which is about 30 Km down hill. We were at about 20% charge, so I was a bit worried about going further, but we rolled down hill without using any power, in fact we gained a bit. We found the charger, which was a 11 Kw Type 2 and  for an hour whilst walking around, but I was still worried. on that charger we didn’t get much of a recharge and most of what we gained we used returning back up to Brenner. 

Just outside Brenner I stopped and pulled up Apple maps, put it into satellite view and manually searched for possible charging locations. It was then I spotted the Tesla superchargers outside of Brenner on the other side of the autostrada. tracing the road back I found there was a tunnel to the other side, and we only a few meters away from it. So we got our charge, and it was free. 

Lidl, Hall in Tirol

Now to the present. Since the first test of Italy we had been to Vipitino a few times and once from Lago di Resia to Merano and back over the Brenner without incident. So it was time to step out the comfort zone a bit more.  I decided on the following strategy. I would drive to Brenner, and fully charge, then drive to the next charger that I found listed at Bolzen, or if the charge was ok Pagenella. From there to the next charger and so on in the direction of Verona, never letting the battery fall below circa 55%. If there was any issue with charging I would turn around and go back. 

The route went first to Hall in Tirol, to a free Lidl, where I would give a quick charge, Pagenella Oestjust enough to get up the Brenner. There I charged to 94% and started downhill “into the unknown”. Downhill I needed very little power, and it made no sense to get out at Bozen, so I continued to Pagenella, and on arrival had only used 40% of the battery.
The charger was free and worked perfectly. Here I have to say, not once was any charge point blocked by another car, and all chargers worked perfectly. Very impressive. The next stop was planned to be Affi, but I actually had enough power to get to the charger at Verona. Realistically I could have gone all the way from Brenner to Verona Veronaon the one charge if I had kept to circa 110 Km/h, but I did go to the autostrada limit of 130 Km/h which of course takes its tribute.

The charge point in Verona was also free, as was the parking, but had to be started with an app. I had already downloaded and installed the app, so after finding the correct QR code, the charge was easy. I stayed there about 2 hours, and then started the return trip. 

The return trip was, needless to say, without incident.Affi Almost. First a quick toilet break and 10 minute top up at Affi, and then onto Pagenella. This is the only incident I experienced. It poured down with rain and there was a very close lightning strike. Luckily it only lasted about 15 minutes and during this time the temperature dropped from 27C to 15C. At Pagenella, the charger was a bit out of the way but well signposted. 20 minute or so charge up to 94% again, then up to Brenner arriving with 19% (27 Km) left. All uphill of course so high consumption. My longest charge was here. 40 minutes to reach 94% When I was almost finished a Tesla X P90 driver arrived and was very interested in the Ioniq. Surprising to me was that when I told him I get a range of up to 240 Km, he said he doesn’t get much more with his Tesla. The final part of my trip was over Garmisch to Munich, which was completed in one go arriving home with 31% (74 km) battery left. 

The totals were 869 Km covered in 10:45 hours of driving (plus charge breaks), average speed 86Km/h and a consumption of 13.2 kWh/100 Km.  Overall I think a good day and certainly a successful trip.

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Neuburg an der Donau

On a rather grey Thursday with  about 19c I decided to go for a drive. I didn’t really know where to go, but I just wanted to get out for a few hours. A quick look at the map and a pin in a random town not too far away, that I hadn’t been to before. A second quick check on the ChargEV app to see what Charging was available and then off. 

Neuburg an der Donau was the target. It’s about an hours drive away but in the 29 years i have lived in Munich, I have never been there. The route took me first on the Autobahn direction Ingolstadt and I thought I might make a quick top up at the Tank&Rast but I decided I had enough charge  to get there and back home again. As I drove by the Tank&Rast I saw that there were a large quantity of police and it looked like there was something going on, so it was probably a food idea not to stop. 

I turned of the Autobahn shortly after and drove across country via Schrobenhausen and it’s asparagus fields eventually crossing the Donau and parking at a small car park 10 minutes away from the old town. The parking was free as was the type 2 charger. The charger needs to be activated by an RFID card, I used the Maingau card. 

The old town of Neuburg an der Donau was very quite. It is full of historic buildings, a couple of cafes and very few stores. In this area is also the tourist information office and the theatre. There is also the old castle which now has a museum in it.  The new or lower town was not so interesting but it is where you feel M.D. most of the stores and restaurants. 

I must have spent a couple of hours there in total. The sun had come out and it was about 21C. Returning to the Ioniq I had about 81% charge. For the trip back I went first in the direction of Augsburg and cross country until I reached Odelzhausen where I rejoined the Autobahn back to Munich. 

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Does size matter?

I was watching a YouTube video the other day and it got me thinking. Is there an incorrect focus on battery capacity? Should the focus be more on the efficiency of the EV? I don’t know of anyone who went to buy a fossil car who asked “How big is the fuel tank?”. On the other hand, I do know a lot who ask “What is the l/100Km (mpg)?”. Come to think of it, I can’t recall ever asking “How far can I drive on a full tank?” either. 

There is a fundamental problem here. Consumers, and dealers, are fixated on battery capacity instead of the more important efficiency of the car. Think of the Tesla Model S for a moment. P60, P75, P90, P100. All based on battery capacity. Yet the Tesla isn’t really so efficient, I think somewhere over 22kWh/100Km. Imagine if you went into a fossil car showroom and they said, “This SUV has a 60ltr tank, or you can have this one with a 100ltr”  then you go down the road and the dealer says there “This city car has a 34ltr tank” and you never asked how much fuel it actually used. Maybe the SUV is using 15ltr/100Km, and the city car is using 7ltr/100km. Which is really better when you consider all factors, such as cost of fuel in addition to range? 

My Ioniq has a usable battery capacity of 28kWh, I understand there is actually more, but its a sort of buffer/reserve. This is currently giving me a range of about 200Km, and then with a rapid charger I can refill in 20 minutes or so, depending on charge level, to 94%.  In comparison, the new Nissan Leaf has a 40kWh and according to the Nissan Germany website a consumption of 20.6kWh/100Km. (I will say here I am surprised it is so much, I had expected more in the region of 16kWh/100Km). Ignoring the reduced charging times due to non-existent thermal management, the Leaf takes 40-60 minutes to reach 80% after an official 415 km on from a full charge (again according to the Nissan Germany website). The website does say its possible to charge to 100% at normal speed. So a bit of simplified maths, to cover 800Km at 100Kmh.

Leaf = 8hrs driving @100Kmh +  2 x 60 minutes charging (Total 10hrs)
400km on the initial charge, then 2 charges of 80% (320Km) to reach destination

Ioniq = 8hrs driving @100Kmh + 4 x 20 minutes charging (Total 9hrs 20mins)
200km on the initial charge, then 4 charges of 94% (188Km) to reach destination

Now, before anyone says anything, yes these figures are unrealistic as for the last charge it wouldn’t be really required for the Leaf to charge to 80% but I am ignoring the Leafs reduced charge rates of only 14Kw with a hot battery. Also I took the WLTP range for the Leaf, not a real world value, and for the Ioniq I took the range shown on my car a few days ago, rather than the (unavailable) WLTP value. The calculations also take no account for breaks or whatever, but the point is, even with a smaller battery and more stops, the better efficiency makes a real difference.

So returning to my original point, shouldn’t we be focusing on efficiency when talking about EV’s and not the capacity of the battery?

The second area that also needs to be addressed is charging rate. The Ioniq can charge at up to 70Kw, the Tesla Supercharger up to 120Kw the Leaf and Ampera-e up to 50Kw and the Zoe up to 43Kw. Sounds good in principle. Realistically the Ampera-e and Leaf charge a lot slower, I am sure I read the e-Golf tops out at about 40Kw. The Zoe can charge at up to 43Kw 400V three phase AC 63A. However, at least where I live, most Type 2 chargers are 240V AC three phase 32A or 22Kw.

Charger speeds are increasing however. When you look at the next generation 350Kw rapid chargers from Ionity it is clear that in the future charging will be quicker. Lets hoe they install enough chargers. It is already an issue with cars blocking the chargers, EV that are not charging or have completed charging, or fossil cars that are just parked in EV charging bays. I do sometimes worry if the next generation Porsche Mission E cars will use the rapid chargers as personal parking spaces.

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St. Johann in Tirol

Today we just went for a short drive of about 263Km. We went exclusively over main roads, avoiding all motorways and fast route. When we set off we had an indicated range of 224Km and by the time we arrived in St Johann in Tirol we had 121Km left and a consumption of about 9.8kWh/100Km which is one of the bast I had had. We plugged into a slow charger whilst we went for a walk, and a very bad meal. We left an hour later with a range of 158Km and on the way back at one point our consumption had dropped to 7.2kWh/100Km before climbing again to end up at 9.2kWh/100Km when we parked up at home.  The weather was dry and temperature around 18-22C.


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“Auf diese Steine können Sie bauen“

Another day,  another trip. This time to Schwäbisch Hall in Baden-Württemberg. We left at around 9am with a full charge and a range of about 215Km. We drove along the A8 direction Stuttgart keeping up with the flow of the traffic. Usually I like to go at about 110Km on the motorway, its a good compromise between speed and fuel saving. Having said that, this stretch of motorway is very fast, and has a lot of slow moving lorries, the result is that there is a tendency to go faster and faster. I can say the Ioniq electric can move at 180Kmh, but the power soon gets drained. So we pulled off at Ulm and went to IKEA to get a free charge and something to eat. We arrived at about 10;:30 and spent about a 75 minutes charging. The Ikea charger was 20Kh so in the time there we went from 18% to 65% charge. Next we went to Wiesensteig which has beautiful wood framed houses, stopping on route at a fast charger at A8 Nellingen, I have stopped here before and had nothing but problems with the charger. Today was no different. I started the charge session with the eCharge app, and of course charging didnt start. Tried again and again the charger reported and error said charging had stopped, but in fact it did charge for 9 minutes, and then stopped. I appear to have been charge for only one session, but its so hard to tell with the terrible echarge app. Anyway we had a few more kWh of power soon to Goppingen to a charger that is in the Ioniq Navigation. It turns out this charger is in the park place for the upper management of a company and the parking place is marked as Reserved for CEO (or similar). Strangely, the charger isn’t on any of the standard charger maps, such as Going Electric, plug share, new motion etc, so I wonder if it is actually a private charger. As there were no signs to the contrary, we plugged in and had another free charge. I have not seen this type of charger before in Germany, but have
seen videos of one in the Vlog of TeslaBjorn.

The next stop was in park house P6 in Schwäbisch Hall. This is a type 2 charger, and again, free, and for 2 hours the parking cost €3. The town is well worth a visit with its old buildings. In some ways it reminded me of Sarlat in France. On returning to the Ioniq we had an indicated range of 224Km and the distance to home was 198Km. We tool the non motorway route over Nordlingen, at speeds approaching the limit on the area we were in, so between 70Kmh and 100Kmh outside towns and 50Kmh in towns. We covered in total 204Km to home without recharging on route and still had 9% battery left.

The total distance covered was 470Km and the total cost of fuel was probably €7. I say probably as I don’t know the price of the motorway charge yet and the eCharge app doesn’t show the cost.

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Tyre Change

Over the last few weeks the temperature has finally started to rise, and we are now in the mid teens to low 20 deg C. I think its safe to say winder has finally gone, if not forgotten, at least on the low grounds. So last week I gave Autohaus Sangl a call to book an appointment for my tyre change. Usually I have summer and winter complete tyre sets, but as I had the winter tyres put on the standard rims, I have this time had the summer tyres put back onto the original rims. Sometime during the next few months I will purchase rims for winter. Currently I don’t know which rims I will get but I am leaning towards an original Ioniq set. It took about 90 minutes for the 4 tyres to be refitted and balanced. The cost was just over €120 including storage of my tyres. This is in line with what I was expecting. As an aside, when I called to book the appointment, for some strange reason I was told it would be €20. I asked if that was per tyre, but was told, it was the total price. It was obvious to me this price could not possible be correct. Anyhow, my car was also washed, which was a nice surprise.

Whilst I was there I took a short recharge. I didn’t need it but I had 10 minutes to kill waiting for my appointment. Our old car that we traded in was still there, waiting for a new owner. Next to me however were 2 white Ioniqs which had a vehicle to vehicle  (V2V) system built in. The idea is that one of these Ioniqs could goto a stranded EV and recharge it enough to get to a charge point. If I understood correctly, these cars are for the ADAC.

I also discovered that I need to get my charge port exchanged on the Ioniq. Currently the parts are out of stock, and have a longer delivery time, so Sangl is going to order the required items and contact me later to arrange an appointment to install them.

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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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