EV Public Charging – In Charge in France

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.

EV public charging

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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Barcelona Rapid Chargers – Mini Road Trip

The last time I did a trip to the Barcelona airport was just after I got my new car, the Nissan Leaf 2018. I wanted to use one of the Barcelona metropolitan area AMB chargers, but I couldn’t work out how to get it started. I didn’t know anything about the Barcelona rapid chargers and how to make them work.  I was under the misguided belief I would be able to use the Girona electric vehicle card. At the time I didn’t have the card from Barcelona, but that wouldn’t have worked either. It only works with the other Barcelona rapid chargers. I did have the application on my phone and I had registered with the service. Somehow or other though I still couldn’t make the damn thing work. Finally, I asked for help and advice from the Internet and it turned out to be quite simple. All you have to do is to slide something from the right to the left within the application to activate the charger. I had rang up the number on the side of the charger but these people were of no use whatsoever. The people don’t know anything about the charges or how they work. The people on the other end of the phone have no idea whatsoever about the application and it was a waste of time ringing them. Here is a map for the charging points in Catalonia,


Barcelona Rapid Chargers

In the AMB Barcelona rapid chargers application there are 10 chargers providing free electricity to Barcelona EV drivers. These charges are dotted around the city and within the application you get information about the charging points. The icons for the charging points show whether they are available, reserved, busy or unavailable. I’m just looking at the map now and as luck would have it, the one I was planning to use this morning first of all is unavailable. The other one I had considered is at present busy, but will almost certainly be available by the time I get there. It’s particularly useful one of the charging points is close to the airport. Even though it is possible for me to drive from home to the airport and back again on one single charge (it is a little bit tight) I would rather add 10 or 15 minutes worth of charge. This would mean I wouldn’t have to take it easy on the speed during the motorway driving. I’d like to be able to drive normally and not have to do any hyper mile type of driving. Run into a headwind or maybe even wet weather and the energy usage could increase. Or you could have a detour to contend with and that could add more kilometres to the journey too.

Barcelona Rapid Chargers

The Barcelona rapid chargers planned for the day.

I did apply for a card for the charger in Sant Cugat de Vallés and it was even sent to me using a courier. The town seemed quite pleasant and wouldn’t mind giving that a try. There is one of the AMB charges there also. Maybe I’ll try one of the other rapid chargers first and try to end up back there. I’m starting the day with a full charge in the battery. I charged up Rosie the 2018 Nissan Leaf with the Type 2 charger overnight in my garage and we are ready for business. It would be good if I could find something to visit and look at in Barcelona during my trip. Just to make it a little more interesting. There is an amusement park which is outside of the city, out in the direction of Parc Güell. There will be places there I can get something to eat there so that could be a good possibility.

So how did that plan work out in real life?

I stayed off the motorway to begin with. I headed down towards Barcelona rapid chargers on the A roads. The GPS wanted me to get onto the motorways from time to time, but I stayed on the road going through the small seaside towns, or not so small, on the way to Mataró.

Charging by the beach -Or Not

The charge point I was heading for what is right by the beach, seaside. There was a small tunnel going underneath the railway and bringing me to the road by the beach. There were plenty of parking spaces and I soon found the parking space for the electric vehicle charger. I could see immediately the charger looked a little bit dead. I got out of the car and pressed a few buttons and was able to confirm that fairly quickly. I was disappointed to find the charger was in operable and I had to get back in the car to look for the next charger. Fortunately, there is another charger not far away in Mataró.

Rapid chargers barcelona

Briefly ICE’d

I only needed to drive inland from the beach for about 20 or 30 minutes to get to the next charger. This was in Carreterra Finlándia. When I got there a large truck was in the parking space. I’ve pulled up behind and there would have been just enough room to use it. I was going to ask the driver to get out of the way. But before I could do so he started reversing back towards me. I had to get in reverse quick in order to get out of the spot before he bumped into my car. Once in position I was able to start at using the charger. This charger was in operation and I could use the Barcelona Ajuntament EV charge card.

Finlandia Mataró

All of the instructions on a small LCD screen were in Catalan. You can expect this with the Barcelona rapid chargers. Some do have options to see instructions in other languages. It was easy enough to follow. The charger and the car did the necessary handshake to activate and for the charging to begin. I got back into the car to check at the rate of charge. The car was pulling in 32 kW. The temperature of the battery was in the middle but it perhaps it should have pulled in more than 32. I didn’t really need much of a charge anyway so I wasn’t too bothered. The point of the day was to try out a few chargers. I arrived at this one with 75% battery still available. On account of not driving at the motorway speeds to get to Mataró I had not used much energy. I stayed at the charge point long enough to bring the battery up to 86%. Then it was time to move on to the shopping centre nearby. I needed to make use of the facilities in and have a little look around.

Looking for Vegetarian Options

It was getting towards lunchtime but I didn’t find anything suitable for a vegetarian to eat in this small sized shopping centre. The last time I visited the shopping centre was quite a few years ago and I remember being disappointed then. So after only about half an hour it was time to move on to my next destination.

GPS Magical Mystery Tour

For the next destination I decided to let the GPS guide me. Sometimes it is easy to just miss a turn when there are multiple choices at a roundabout. I’ve pulled off one junction to early from the roundabout and ended up going on a magical mystery tour. Considering I was not in a rush I didn’t mind in the slightest. The GPS was guiding me on roads away from the motorway is because I had set that up in the settings. I ended up on tiny country style road visiting small villages. You would not believe you were so close to the metropolis of the coastal towns of the Costa Brava near Barcelona. It was a pleasant and interesting fun drive. I did get a little bit bored with it eventually. I was glad to get back onto the main AP7 not too far away from the Circuit of Barcelona motor racing track. I had a bit of a distance to drive to get to Sant Cugat de Vallés. Needed to make up some time.

Barcelona chargers video

Activates with an app

There is a AMB charger right next to the shopping centre. My plan was to try this charger which I had tried to use before. Last time I was unsuccessful because I didn’t know how to work the application. I had to ask for instructions on Twitter. I found out I needed to do a swipe from right to left on the listing for the ChadeMo charger connector. On my second try the charge activated and we were in business. The charge once again was going in at just over 30 kW. It was time to go and use the facilities again and to find somewhere to eat. Once again the vegetarian eating possibilities were slim. I did manage to find a place selling sandwiches and there was one vegetarian possibility. It turned out this was an excellent choice as it was exceptionally tasty with sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. I was a happy vegetarian. When I got back to the car there was a Smart Electric car pulled up to use the AC charger. My 2018 Nissan leaf had company. My car was charged to 98% and was now pulling in only a small amount in terms of kilowatts.

Using the AMB App

Using the AMB App

Fluid plans for the day

I had wanted to go to another charger in the same town. I had the RFID car dividable to use it. There was no point in trying it out due to the fact I had charged up so much using the AMB charger. I hadn’t planned to stay so long at the previous charging point. So due to a tasty sandwich my options had changed. The only thing for it was to get back on the road and head home.

Easy drive home

After the visit to the Barcelona rapid chargers It was an easy drive home on the motorway all the way. I only stopped once for a short break. I arrived back at the house with 60% of charge in the battery. I left with 100% and both of the chargers we used were free. A rough, in the head calculation of the approximate cost of the electric used, 40% meant that the days driving, about 250 km cost me only €1.20.

Red Rosie 2018 Nissan Leaf

Mission rapid chargers Barcelona

Aside from finding one charger out of operation it was a successful mission. I had intended to try out a couple of the charging points to see what options I would have for charging in Barcelona for free when going to collect someone from the airport. I now have a couple of chargers I’ve tried and used successfully. The one at Mataró would be easy to get to with a divert from the Motorway.

There is an AMB rapid charger right next to the airport. Next time I go to the airport I will make sure to use that one. A good day with the Barcelona rapid chargers.

Plugshare Charging Points in Barcelona.

Barcelona rapid chargers