OFFERone year I drove my Renault Zoe to Tuscany. I won’t hurt you with the full details of my five-day journey, filled with broken chargers, discarded chargers, inaccessible chargers, and chargers claiming a valid tax code. Italian standards before they squealed in kilowatts – but suffice it to say it took most of the holiday for my heart rate to return to normal.

So when I announced that I would be doing it all again this year, my friends used words like “brave” and “very brave.”

But there are signs that things have improved since last year, and my recent nervous breakdown has taught me a lot of important lessons. Lessons, such as don’t leave my smartphone next to a glass of wine on the rooftop where a fox might run after it: no phone, no EV charging. And to carry umbrellas – QR codes can’t be read in bright sunlight or in heavy rain – plus a European home charging cable (Italy doesn’t have many public chargers and placing the adapter on the plug of He is also inactive).

The ChargeMap and Plugsurfing RFID tags are useful, and the NEXTCHARGE app is essential: it locates chargers, plans routes and gives access to a wide variety of chargers across Europe.

Ionity has an extensive network of charging points

(Lizzie Wingfield)

But the most important thing is the Ionity passport. Ionity is a network of super-fast, reliable electric car chargers funded by the European Union, and you wouldn’t be able to function across France without it. But it’s horribly expensive, especially in France, where charging is charged by the minute – great for super fast charging Porsches, but exorbitantly expensive for the slower, cheaper chargers on the market. However, with the passport (reasonable £16 a month), the rate is halved, making it the cheapest passport in Europe, including the UK.

The best route to Italy in a tram is via the free Gotthard Tunnel – and you can do the whole thing using Ionity toll points. The Mont Blanc route is longer – and has higher tolls – but is also doable. However, I was visiting friends on the go, so I used the Grand St Bernard Tunnel, which is a bit more complicated. I still don’t trust the network, and so are multiple power banks, which take time – the fuller the battery, the slower it charges – and make me miss dinner. Twice. But after my third stress-free Ionity charge, I’m starting to feel like driving an EV has become a regular mode of transportation, rather than a funny story you’d expect is happening to someone else. .

Charges outside of the network aren’t quite as straightforward: TOTAL says a lot about the number of EV chargers it offers, but at its vast Air de Brognon (A39) offerings there’s only one, a must-call. to the helpline to get it started and another to turn it off. In Switzerland, I was nearly beaten by the MOVE charger, but after he spent 10 minutes getting it to work – in the pouring rain and freezing cold – a helpful young man used his access card myself, this card worked. (He also went to great lengths to refuse payment.)

I’m starting to feel like driving an electric car has become a normal means of transportation, not some kind of funny story you’d expect happening to other people.

After recharging overnight, I almost didn’t bother stopping at the Ionity charging point near Aosta, especially since it’s on the left side of the highway and involves a detour. But luckily I did: Italy’s FreeTo motorway network is still under construction rather than operational, so by the time I arrive at the next EV-equipped services at Fiorenzuola d’Occa ‘Arda (A1), I’ve got 10% off. I’ve never dared to go that low, and it’s nice to see I still have 30 miles to go. The charger was a bit complicated to use the NextCharge app, but it worked fine in the end.

And as for driving: acceleration is quiet, smooth, and very handy as a Milanese frantic rushes toward my rear view, blinking furiously. So I arrived in Tuscany, relieved but with a “normal” level of soul.

For the return journey – this time via the Gotthard Tunnel – instead of an overall toll journey, I opted to use the Ionity app’s route planner to get me from one charging point to another. next. It works almost perfectly.

Clear instructions – always helpful when charging abroad

(Lizzie Wingfield)

The first leg, from Pieve Santo Stefano to Piacenza, was a bit of a stretch for a single game. So I was planning to stop at the services of Fiorenzuolo d’Arda if things turned alarming. Which they got it right – I got to the last 22 miles and 5% battery life – just before I discovered the chargers were on the other side of the highway, 20 miles away. Holding my breath and gripping the steering wheel with my empty hand, I pressed against Piacenza. I did – and with 15 miles to spare – but next time I’ll stop at Modena.

The A2 from Como to Basel gets a gold star for electric vehicle services: there are chargers in every service and parking area. But Ionity didn’t seem to know about its charger at Gotthard Nord and wanted to take me on a 40-mile detour back to Gotthard Sud.

Holding my breath and gripping the steering wheel with empty hands, I pressed Piacenza close to me

An electrician told me that between Champfleury and Calais (A26) – more than 220 miles – both Ionity centers are on the other side of the highway. Luckily, at Urvillers services I found a 50kW charger – next to a long line of Tesla super rapids – that worked and provided free electricity, so I avoided the detour and saved my money. get some money.

As I waited for the train in Calais, it suddenly occurred to me that even if there was a problem – which could be easily remedied next time – my journey was almost as quick and easy as in the car. powered by my diesel engine.

But there’s no pollution, carbon emissions – or fuel costs of €1.90 a liter.

Travel essentials

Necessary applications

More information

The Renault Zoe has a range of 200 miles and a maximum charging speed of 50kWs.


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