EV public charging France – All the Options
On one of my first trips to France with my electric car, my 2018 Nissan Leaf I got a little bit worried about EV public charging. I wasn’t able to charge the car at the Nissan dealer in Perpignan due to it being closed for lunch. I didn’t have the right card for charging at the large shopping centre either. So I continued on my journey towards my chosen destination a little further north of Perpignan. I was feeling sure one of the RFID cards I had would let me charge. As it turned out, the one I thought would work, didn’t. I started to sweat a little bit, wondering if I was going to have to call out the flatbed truck. I got lucky with the Newmotion RFID card which I had recently acquired. Nice to have a little bit of luck when you really need it. So I was able to plug-in, get something to eat in the Double Dutch café and then continue on my journey. Trip to Leucate.
Thank goodness for Newmotion
I also used the Newmotion RFID card on another trip to France when I connected to another CHAdeMO charger. This was on my trip to Quillan which is on the other side of the Pyrenees from where I live. That was the trip where I decided to make a little detour to the top of the mountain to Les Angles. Drove up a delightful small winding road to arrive in the middle of a thunderstorm. On the way down from the top of the mountain on the other side, but still going towards Perpignan I was able to pull into another charger at Villefranche de Conflent. That one was a slow charging point, type II Mennekes and again I was able to use the Newmotion card. The battery of the car really didn’t need much, if any charge, but I wanted to try out this other Réveo electric vehicle charge post.
My latest trip to France to a small town called Céret
On my way my first stop was to the Nissan dealers at Figueres which is the town of Salvador Dali. On this occasion I didn’t go into the centre of town, instead I went to the Nissan dealer on the outskirts. A good choice for Nissan EV public charging. First of all I was happy to see the CHAdeMO charging machine was not hidden away inside a workshop or the compound of the dealership. This makes it more useful as you can get to it 24/7 and I didn’t even need to put in any code to use it. I stayed there for 20 to 30 minutes before deciding to continue on my journey towards France. When the dealership is open it’s useful to be able to use the facilities which were clean and pleasant to use. So onwards towards France, steering clear of the motorway for a more enjoyable drive. There were huge tailbacks on the motorway going into France due to roadworks on the motorway bridge at the border.
Autumn driving an electric vehicle through the foothills of the Pyrenees
The day turned quite dull but this just made the autumn leaves look even more spectacular. Some parts of the mountain were covered in low cloud making it a fairly dark day. I didn’t care because I had a nearly fully charged electric car. My rear end and the small of my back was delightfully warm due to the seat heater. The cabin of the car was also fairly warm due to the efficient heating of the 2018 Nissan Leaf. Interesting roads to drive on and my comfort level was high, just perfect. With the sort of roads I was driving on there was no need to use the Pro Pilot Assist. I had made use of that technology while on the straighter, less interesting roads on the way towards the border with France. Now I was into enjoying the E pedal technology and not having to touch the brakes hardly at all. When I arrived at Ceret the GPS took me through narrow village type roads to get to the old centre where the car park is containing the EV public charging point.
Each EV charging point seems different from the last
Aside from the fact the charge points of difference when some have DC charging and others only have AC charging, there’s such a lot of difference between models. Some are activated using a QR code, others need an RFID card, some are activated by an app and one or two you can just plug in. The ones you can just plug-in are generally the free ones and I like those the best. So take some time to get used to all the different types of EV public charging equipment out on the road.
The charge point in Ceret was another new style of charger for me to use. The network was Reveo and the charger contained two type 2 Mennekes sockets and two of the Shuko sockets. I expected the type to sockets to be up to 22 kWh, but I was wrong. I only discovered this when looking at the details on the website later. The car was only charging at 3.7 kWh which was very slow indeed. It’s exactly the same as the maximum as you get from the Shuko sockets.
The cost of charging electric vehicles using EV public charging
One of my reasons for the trip to France on this occasion was to test the new card I got from Sodetrel/Izivia. There was a small screen at the front of the charge point. I first needed to put the RFID card next to the screen. I somehow carelessly managed to touch the flag for Germany. So I had to put up with all of the instructions being in German. I can understand German but I would prefer English for the first time using this electric vehicle charger. It’s recognised my card and I could move on to the next stage which was to plug-in. It took me a while to realise I had to fully close the door covering the sockets before the charging would initiate. After a little bit of head scratching I managed to get the thing working. It was time to go and have a wander around the town.
One of the good things about having an electric vehicle is that you have to stop and spend time in a place. Usually it’s necessary to take breaks for food, drink and natural requirements. Often this is all the time you need, especially with the rapid DC charging. It’s often welcome to take a break and stretch your legs. I was glad of a chance to have a walk around the town. I found a supermarket where I could buy some apples and have something to eat. The rest of my walk around the town was pure discovery. I was happy to find a small art gallery who are setting up an exhibition for the next day. They still let me into look at the work even though it wasn’t officially open. I would have visited the Museum of modern Art which was totally unexpected in such a small town. Unfortunately, it was closed due to it being a Monday. I have to go back and visit on another day of the week. I even spotted another small art gallery on my travels. I think I spent about 40 minutes walking around the place and I got back to the car and started my journey back home.
I wuz Robbed…
It was when I got back home I saw on the website for my account how much the charging had cost. I had paid €4.50 for just a small amount of electricity. The reason for the high cost per kilowatt-hour was due to there being an initial charge to activate the charger, followed by a per minute charge. With such a slow rate of charge it can get quite expensive per kilowatt-hour with this type of charging. The Reveo charges if you don’t have a subscription which costs €12 per year charges €3 to initiate the charge. With a subscription this comes down to €1.50. There is still a charge per minute from 7 AM in the morning until 9 PM in the evening, but during the night time you can avoid the per minute pricing.
Reveo EV public charging is a network contained within the Izivia group which covers the whole of France and some other countries. I have downloaded the app so I can use Reveo chargers directly although there are some which only will activate with the RFID card. I’m not going to get a subscription even though it’s effectively only one euro per month because I don’t go to France that often. If you live in France it would definitely be worth it.
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The truth about using electric vehicle public chargers
For the most part most of us won’t be using EV public charging very often. 90 to 95% of our charging is done at home or work. We can plug-in our car at night time and wake up the next morning with a fully charged battery ready to go. Even so, we still want to see reasonably priced charging options available for the occasions where we do need to travel further afield. I have seen petrol stations which are charging $0.30 per kilowatt-hour which is reasonable. The IBIL chargers in Spain have a set up/initial charge plus a cost for how much electric you put into your battery. I’ll probably have to use more of these when I do my tour around Spain and Portugal.
Plugging in at the dealerships
If you have a Nissan you can plug in at some Nissan dealerships. I have encountered to dealership so far were they have claimed the CHAdeMO charging point was not working. Nissan should be making sure these charges are properly available. I would like to see Nissan making available Type II chargers in accessible positions so they can be used 24/7 by Nissan Leaf drivers. It would make buying an electric vehicle a much more promising proposition. Electric cars do cost more to buy and so we do need to have the savings in the running costs. We need good EV public charging options.
Travelling home from France
After getting across the Spanish border I pulled into the shopping centre at La Jonquera. There are four well marked electric vehicle charging points just as you pull into the parking area underneath the shopping centre. I toyed with the idea of plugging in. In the end I didn’t bother and I parked elsewhere in the parking area. I am intended to run in quickly use the facilities and to run out again. It wasn’t worth the effort in getting the cable out of the boot of the car.
One more stop on the way home for a bit of EV public charging. Again it was necessary to pull in to find some facilities and also to add some juice into the car. I stopped at the Girona North Electric vehicle charging point. I have the card from the Ajuntament to use this one for free. You can stay for 30 minutes, which I did, using the CHAdeMO connector. As I pulled into the car park there was a Hyundai Ioniq plugged into the charger in one of the two bays. It wasn’t charging so I can assume he had gone over the 30 minute limit. There was a car in the second charging bay. I get lucky and only had to wait less than a minute in order for that paid to become available so I could pull in and connect my car. It’s not a bad place to stop. There is a supermarket there, so often you’ll be able to get provisions as necessary. There is also a café next to the supermarket as well as other bars and restaurants not too far away. With 30 minutes of charging I had more than enough to get home. I probably could have got home without stopping, at least as far as the battery of the car was concerned. By taking the free electricity out on the road I was able to reduce the amount of electricity needed to bring the car back up to full charge using my home charger during the night.
My costs for the daytrip
My first stop for charging the vehicle battery in Rosie my 2018 Nissan Leaf was free. The cost for stopping and charging in Ceret was €4.50. The cost to bring the battery back up to 100% was about one euro. So it only cost me about €5.50 to drive 237 km. That seems like a bargain to me!
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