Electric vehicle cross-border driving – Or not?

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Another RFID Card

On account of receiving the new RFID card for Reveo which is an energy group for electric vehicle charging points in the south of France, I decided to take a trip to test it out. Started the day with a full charge which I have noted is less at this time of the year than it was in the summertime. The guess-o-meter now tends to show me approximately 250 to 260 km on a full charge. In summer it could be as much as 280km. The weather isn’t too cold here, so I wonder how things are for people with electric vehicles in more severe climates. So off I set on a mission to drive into France to the nearest Reveo charge point. I have the application from Reveo to help me find their charging stations. It can be used for the charge point activation too. I quickly saw there were five charging points to choose from just across the border. The cost of charging was going to be €1.50 for one hour and then after that it would cost 2.5 cents per minute. The charge points were rated at 22 kW delivery and I was interested to find out if I got that much in my Nissan Leaf. On my last visit to France when I went to Céret the station there was rated at 22 kW in the application, but was only delivering approximately 3 kW. On that occasion I used the Sodetrel/Izivia card and I didn’t have a good experience with the charging or the price. It ended up costing me €4.50 and it is a complete mystery as to why it was that much. I think it could have cost less if I had used the Newmotion RFID card instead.

Getting blocked at the border

On the drive towards the border I drove next to the motorway for some of the way. As I got closer to the border I could see a large queue of lorries on the AP7 building up. Just before I got into La Jonquera I joined a queue of traffic which was going very slowly and for a few minutes was stopped completely. There was some distance to go before I could get into France and get past this blockage, so I decided to do a U-turn and look for a different route. I pulled off just a short way back on a road suggested by Waze. This took me through a ford on a road going over towards the other side of the motorway. I took a short break on the other side and checked the map and decided the re-routing wasn’t going to do me any favours. It was only bringing us past a couple of roundabouts and back into the queue again. I decided it was a much better idea to head back home and give up for the day.

Driving through a ford near La Jonquera. Motorway in the background.

Testing rapid chargers in Figueres

On my last trip I tested out a rapid charger at the Nissan dealer in Figueres and I could have gone back to that one again. However, there is another rapid charger in the centre which needed to be tested. I was there before and was disappointed because it was in place but not yet commissioned. The electricity hadn’t been turned on. I had received word from the Ajuntament in a reply to an email asking about the charger to say that it was now working. I has a plan to follow – a rapid to try out.

On arriving at the charger, a car was pulling into the charging bay and it was an ICE, Infernal Combustion Engine vehicle. To be fair, he was only half on the green painted bay for the charging point. I got out of my car and tapped on his window and asked if I could pull in to access the electric vehicle charging point. I gave him space to reverse back from the charging bay. He moved out of the way and left a space reason for me to reverse into.

This rapid charger is a large electric vehicle charging point. It is set in between two charging bays, one in the front and one at the rear. The charging bay at the rear is suitable for front loader cars like the Nissan Leaf or the Hyundai Kona. The charging bay at the front can really only be used by cars which have the charging socket at the rear of the car. The road is a one-way street so it would be difficult to turn the car around to make use of the other bay if the one you wanted was in use. Mind you, it might not make too much of a difference if the machine was already being used in the DC mode. Perhaps if someone was charging a Renault Zoe with AC then the DC connections could be available. I kind of think that the rapid charger wasn’t put in the best place. It could have been better in a more open car park area. On the plus side, there were facilities available next to the charging point.

Charging point facilities

The charging point was next to a fruit shop and a couple of supermarkets. Just around the corner there were three or four restaurants of various types. Also in the vicinity there were two or three cake shops where you could perhaps also get a drink of something. Not only that, there was a small park area and benches you could sit on to watch the world go by. For this reason this rapid charger gets the best marks for chargers in the town. When you go to the other ones there’s not much available to distract you while the car is being charged.

Activating the rapid charger in Figueres

On this occasion I used the RFID card from Barcelona. There is also a card you can get from the Figueres Ajuntament. I saw on the instructions on the machine it’s also possible to use an app to activate the charge point. I don’t have that application on my phone. I do have several others, just like RFID cards I seem to be collecting them. The electric vehicle charger works really well and it didn’t take long for my car to suck in plenty of electrons. I had a walkaround to stretch my legs while waiting. To stop the charger from charging you put your card back up to the card reader on the machine.

 EV charging Catalonia

Taking advantage of free electric

I decided to continue on the route back home via Girona and use one of the rapid chargers available there. I headed for the charger at Girona South. This charger is situated in the car park and there are no facilities nearby. It would be possible to walk to shops not too far away, but you wouldn’t have time to do anything while there. Walking to the shops and then walking back would be long enough for the amount of time you have available on the charge point. Lucky for me, I had my new 12V car kettle. This is a small kettle I got from Amazon and it seems to work fairly well. It heated the water up to the proper temperature to make tea. It seemed to take a long time to heat the water up, but it worked. Happy days!

When I got back home I’d covered around about 185 km. Because I stopped in Girona and topped up the battery, when I got home I still had about 75%. This means my driving for the day was extremely cheap. Topping the battery up to 100% using the cheaper night-time electricity cost me less than one euro. A day out for next to nothing! The joys of driving an electric car, especially the Nissan Leaf. I know I did go off last week to see the Tesla Model 3 in Barcelona, but I still love Rosie, my car.

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One Reply to “Electric vehicle cross-border driving – Or not?”

  1. […] days we were away. It was an easy drive down and on the way there was time to pull into the AMB Electric vehicle charger near to the airport. It didn’t take long to get the battery up to just over 75% so when I arrived […]

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