The following morning we arrived at the Beneluxhaven in Rotterdam around 9am. After going through customs we started on the 225 km (140 miles) drive to my parents in Hardenberg. The weather was fine. Just a few showers lingering but no problems were expected. Holland has one of the best infrastructures in the world with around 10000 11kW AC charge points in a small country. As I knew the locations of some 43kW AC units and the directions I did not buy and load the Benelux maps into the R-Link before setting off. As a result I was relying on my memory and “sense of direction” to find the charge points.
First stop was about 35km from the port at a roadside hotel chain. I completely missed the turn off and before I knew it found myself heading for a big motorway intersection with no easy way of turning around. I stayed on the direction we needed to go for my parents but Zoe started complaining about low battery very soon after. 10 miles later I finally saw a exit and went for it. Thankfully there was a hotel nearby and we pulled in for some free wifi and breakfast to steady the nerves. Zoe was at about 8% battery at this stage.
Making use of the free hotel wifi I bought and downloaded the R-Link map using my laptop. Looking on Google maps it occurred to me that we were only about 6.5km (4 miles) from the next 43kW AC charge point. Feeling better after breakfast and with the maps now loaded in R-Link we set off. We arrived with 4% of battery remaining. Feeling relieved I plugged in, swiped my TheNewMotion card only to find it being rejected!! The 22kW point next to it did the same. So I rang the 24 hour helpdesk and after a few minutes they started the charge remotely. I was told that there may have been a setup mistake on their end and to only use TheNewMotion charge points not their partner companies with my card for the next 24 hours or so.
After 20 minutes we had enough to get to the next stop. A shopping centre in Utrecht. Sadly, my card again did not work. When the charge could not be started remotely I had enough. The shopping was abandoned and we went home using the FastNed network. Since these chargers use a smart phone app instead of a card there was no problem. The chargers did cost more than TheNewMotion ones but a working charger is more important. After 2 stops at De Kroon, Nieuwegein and Bornheim, Wezep we got to my parents.
The following day I tried out my card at several nearby TheNewMotion chargers and a partner company one and had no issues. I also checked with the partner company in Belgium (The Blue Corner) to make sure my card was in their system. It was. Both TheNewMotion and The Blue Corner were very quick to respond to emails and Twitter help requests and thanks to their swift response the holiday could now truly begin!
The days in Holland were spend doing family visits, enjoying the weather and an occasional spot of shopping and Zoe was a delight to drive on the smooth Dutch roads. One of the longer trips I did was a 100 mile round trip to Groningen to visit a friend. I drove the speed limit and not very economical but using a nearby 11kW charger meant I had no worries about range. We also did a day trip to a castle in Germany. We charged up just before the border and did not need to find a charger in Germany.
The 9 days at my parents flew and soon it was time to start the next part of our holiday. 5 days along the coast in Ostend, Belgium!
For the last few years my wife and I have done a road trip to my parents in Hardenberg, The Netherlands from our home in Mallow, Ireland. As Zoe is our only car I immediately started planning for an all electric road trip.
After reading Surya’s posts about his camping trip from Belgium to the UK, and considering the infrastructure in France seemed patchy, driving through the UK seemed the only viable route.
I would have to make use of several charge station providers in several countries. Ecotricity’s Electric Highway should see me through the UK. Signing up was easy and the card arrived in the post a few days later. TheNewMotion in Holland seemed to be a widely accepted card in several EU countries, including Belgium (Blue Corner), the UK (ChargeYourCar) and they had several stations in Germany. This was starting to look good. Using their sign up page was not possible as it needed a Dutch address but after emailing their customer service with my address and bank details a personalised welcome pack was sent to me in the post.
After hearing of additional Ecotricity charge points in North Wales as part of the Rapid Charge Network I decided on the following ferries:
Dublin, Ireland – Holyhead, Wales (May 30th)
Hull, England – Rotterdam, The Netherlands (May 30th)
Dunkerque, France – Dover, England (June 13th)
Pembroke, Wales – Rosslare, Ireland (June 20th)
In addition to visiting my parents and my wife’s sister and family in Farnborough, a short holiday in Ostend and Weston-super-Mare was also scheduled.
The planning was complete and the countdown could start!
Mallow to Hull
On the morning of the 29th of May my electric journey began with a trip I had done many times. Mallow to Dublin is very easy in theory but the reliability of the charging network in Ireland makes it a bit of an adventure most times. This time I made a quick 10 minute stop in Urlingford, Co. Tipperary before moving on to a newly opened service station at Manor Stone, Co. Laois. Zoe was charged from 34% to 99% in 25 minutes. My next planned stop was the Tesco in Naas, Co. Kildare. Sadly this charge point had an AC error and after reporting this to ESB I moved on to a nearby 22kW charger which charged Zoe from 25% to 45% in 15 minutes. This was sufficient to reach Dublin Airport. After failing to get a charge at the airport parking I collected my wife from her delayed flight from London Gatwick and drove to our airport hotel. The charge point there did work and charged Zoe from 12% to 100% overnight.
The following morning we took the 8:15 swift ferry to Holyhead. After some careful driving we arrived at our first Ecotricity charge point: the new station at the services in Holywell. This was a very busy spot and after politely asking a car to park elsewhere we were able to charge Zoe from 12% to 83% in 24 minutes while enjoying some lunch. Next stop was Chester services where we met up with Dan, a member of the forum, who had just done his first 100 miles in one charge. Zoe charged from 52% to 99% while we spent a bit too much time having a nice talk and a coffee. 30 minutes later we were back on the road.
Birch services East was next. One of the 2 chargers there had a user session error which had locked the whole charger. Thankfully the other one worked fine. After 26 minutes Zoe had charged from 45% to 95%. The last stop of the day was Ferrybridge services. We arrived to find 2 Leafs charging. After a 10 minute wait one was finished and moved on. Zoe charged from 38% to 98% in 25 minutes. Here we also met up with a subscriber to my YouTube video log. Then it was time for the final 65 km to Hull. The plan was to grab a bit of a extra charge at The Deep in Hull but the charge point there kept tripping the fuse. It didn’t matter as I still had 40% of charge remaining. Plenty to reach the first charge point in Holland the following day.