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With the e-car through Europe - a horror trip

A retired couple wants to go to France with their new e-car. Despite the best preparations, the journey turns into a horror trip due to broken charging stations, incorrect charging cards and the poor range of the new VW - and clearly shows how far we are from e-mobility in Europe.

From Freiburg to Camargue in the south of France: actually a journey of just under 7 hours that turned into an involuntary adventure for a retired couple. They were on the road for 26 exhausting, nerve-wracking hours until they arrived at their holiday home in their new, fully electric VW ID.3.

Because of the new car, the two prepared themselves perfectly before setting off: they had the "VW We Charge" charging card in their luggage so that they could easily charge their vehicle in the Europe-wide VW charging network. They also installed two apps. The "WeConnect ID", a kind of operating system for the electric Golf, and the "Chargemap" app, which shows a map with the appropriate charging stations. Even before they left, they knew where they wanted to stop to charge the VW. This promised a range of up to 550 kilometres.

But shortly after the journey began, the range indicator in their new 35,000 euro car dropped ominously fast. So the first, unplanned charging stop was to take place after only 180 kilometres. Unfortunately, the charging station was defective. The map app did not know this. A VW dealer nearby was happy to help, but he only had a 22KW socket. After 2 hours of charging and a battery charged to 40 percent, they went to the - according to "Chargemap" - next charging point on their route. The app was wrong again. Far and wide there was no charging point here. Again, a simple socket with 22KW had to do. After 3 hours of charging, it was already evening.

On the next 400 kilometres to the holiday home, the two of them encountered only one charging station, which delivered what the app promised. After one and a half hours, they continued from there with an 80 percent charge. Unfortunately, most of the other charging stations recommended by "Chargemap" did not accept the "VW We Charge" charging card. For example, the new Ionnity charging stations. Due to the lack of range of the e-car, the 20KW sockets had to be used several times until the two arrived at the holiday home almost 20 hours later than they had hoped.

The experience of the two shows how much there is still a lack of e-mobility. The fragmented charging system with many different providers, apps and payment methods, but also the technology of the e-car, which did not even come close to offering the promised range, is sobering. It is no wonder that the e-car still finds little acceptance and they are used, if at all, as second cars or only for short distances in big cities. For this, however, the bicycle or public transport would be more appropriate.

The two adventurers have sent the logbook of their horror trip to Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU). Whether it will solve the problem any faster remains questionable.