There is no need to maintain a semblance of tension anymore. This round trip between Paris and Bordeaux by electric car went without a hitch. At the end of these almost 1,300 km covered over the course of a weekend, not the shadow of a scare, even less of a real “dry” breakdown. And no offense to foul tongues, no, it didn’t take three days to connect the capital and New Aquitaine, either way.
That said, there isn’t much more divisive than the electric car. Perhaps with the exception of how to designate a pain au chocolat or chocolatine by its proper name… Everyone will therefore have their own interpretation of this first feedback. In the eyes of the most “trendy” motorists who have forgotten the very existence of fuel pumps, this assessment, which is necessarily positive, turns out to be confusingly banal.
For many others, this is just a speech sponsored by a powerful lobby of “electrifiers”. For my part, I would just bring my testimony and nevertheless accompany it of 10 commandments/teachings so that this little adventure becomes no more than a simple journey.
As a good cautious dodger, fed on unleaded and other liquid fuels, I take my precautions. The choice of the car that best suits this journey in a relatively short time is crucial. There is certainly evidence for Tesla for various reasons: the sobriety of its Model 3, its relatively tight mesh in its charging infrastructure, reliable and fast moreover… But I’m a minimal gamer.
What remains is to find the right fit, between the thrifty city car, but with the battery capacity worthy of a button cell, and the dragster with the monumental package, but with more frothing engines. Then I set my sights on the BMW i4 eDrive40, which packs the same 83.9 kWh (gross) as its mighty M50 sibling, but makes do with just one of its two engines. Its 340 hp should be enough.
If its platform is not exclusively dedicated to electric propulsion (it is also that of the thermal 4 series), with the risk of compromising the optimization of its propulsion chain, this sedan has the good taste, by definition, not to be one of those massive SUVs with more than questionable relevance in terms of energy conservation.
Better, it equips itself in series with a route planner via its navigation and the automatic preconditioning of its battery. Nothing revolutionary in the category, but enough to make the optimal number of stops and save precious minutes at the charging station. In any case, my strategy is paying off. Only one refueling was needed, out and back, thanks to an average autonomy of almost 350 km on the highway, the computer shows a consumption of 19.4 kWh/100 km after 1,300 km.
2. You choose the right road axis
Not all French are equal when it comes to electrification. Converts know it well, The Paris-Bordeaux axis and the A10 are among the best served France in terms of infrastructure. No less than five Ionity stations are located along the highway towards the province from the capital. The choice of an electric car this summer holiday is therefore not crazy. It would no longer be the same story to connect La Rochelle with Saint-Etienne by the secondary network or even taking a round trip between Rennes and Quimper during the day, two cities where the density of the fast charging network leaves much to be desired.
3. Your offspring to the car you want to sync
When the destination is saved in the navigation, it automatically calculates where, when and how long to stop to shorten the journey as much as possible in case of insufficient autonomy. No way for me to stand up to him and launch myself into more investigations through the various applications offered on the mobile.
Satisfied with the result on the outward journey, i.e. 600 km covered in just under 6:50 (including lunch break), I obeyed once more on the way back. To the chagrin of the youngest strapped to the right rear. The heir does not see with a particularly good eye the only stop planned around Tours around 9:00 p.m., when he is used to having dinner at 7:30 p.m. sharp.
Then there are two solutions. Opting for the equivalent of an “underbid” so dear to some F1 strategists, that is anticipating recharging, to the detriment of travel time by risking another mandatory stop. Or endure the protests of a time-starved offspring to connect the stopover suggested by GPS. Here is finally the biggest dilemma, which postpones the long trips in an electric car (with the family).
4. You don’t stay long at the charging stations
Adherent to “splash-and-dash”, which consists of stopping at the pump as short as possible to reach the destination without running out of gas, I’m learning, in a “battery-powered” car, to take more time when I need to refuel. As long as one of them coincides with the children’s meal (see the 3rd commandment), time finally passes very quickly. A little too much.
One weekend in July at By 12:15 the restaurant area of the gas station we stopped at on the way out was literally full. Suddenly, “WHO IS THE OWNER OF THE BMW REGISTRATION GD-853…?! » exclaims the graceful young woman behind her counter in a heartily accusatory tone.
I am happy to introduce myself without further introduction to 300 strangers. Of which probably well over fifty already have a good opinion of these incorrigible behemoths, ready to do anything to make themselves interesting. The search message actually comes from another EV user inviting me to free the terminal that I’ve been squatting for almost an hour as my battery is now nearing full charge. Despite their layout, which often retains ambiguity, very different from that of fuel pumps, charging stations must not be confused with parking! A big rookie mistake.
5. A pack of Teslas you want to overtake
Among the surprises in store for this journey is the pace at which most of our fellow travelers traveling in the Tesla travel. As mentioned above (see 1eh command), the American brand’s sedans and SUVs are among the most efficient on the market, in addition to benefiting from a dedicated and powerful charging network. But for reasons I can’t explain, their drivers, in any case those overwhelmed by this experience, are content to drive cautiously in the right lane, at a speed well below the applicable speed limits. A wisdom that is obviously very foreign to me, I drive a BMW, mind you.
6. GPS you will be wary of
An electric car is generally dependent on its navigation system. If it is not to calculate the most appropriate charging strategy to save time, it is at least to set the course for the nearest terminal. However, be careful not to be led with your nose towards a station that does not exist. As was my case in the Bordeaux region. The reinforcement of the internet or a mobile application is sometimes not a luxury to separate the wheat from the chaff.
7. On the Ionity network, you are addicted
The result of a consortium that brings together several manufacturers, including BMW, the Ionity terminal network is almost essential on the motorway. But its strengths are accompanied by persistent weaknesses. The power and density of the infrastructures on an axis like the A10 will have especially enabled me to limit myself to a single stop per trip, which the navigation has suggested a recharge of 26 minutes left and only 20 minutes left.
In return, not to mention the prices mentioned below (see 9th offer), the reliability doesn’t seem to be quite there. Each of the two stations visited this weekend in July has at least one of its terminals out of service. These maintenance concerns do not appear to be isolated as during a previous electric tour (on the A11) the first question asked by other users was on their arrival “Does it work? “
8. Traffic conditions you will not neglect
Both the weather and the traffic naturally have an influence on the consumption of a thermal vehicle. But on an electric car, their influence is even more noticeable. This is evident from the difference in the consumption of our i4 between the round trips. From 18 kWh/100 km times 25° in heavy traffic, which favors the regeneration phases (98 km/h average speed), the engine’s appetite increases to 21.1 kWh/100 km with 34° in the absence of traffic (112 km/h average speed). A difference of 16%, with autonomy reduced by the same amount.
9. You will get lost in the tariffs at the terminal
Another phenomenon which does not spare the thermal world, but which assumes wild proportions in the electrical one. If prices at the pump fluctuate from one fuel to another and between two stations, those of kWh reach surreal differences. Mainly because some networks still charge by the minute, while others calculate the bill based on the amount of energy supplied.
Ionity has just switched from one pricing mode to another, as kWh is now shown at €0.69 on 350 kW terminals (the most common on the motorway). Enough to increase the price of “full” to more than €50 in the case of an i4 eDrive40. Fortunately, like the other manufacturers in the consortium, BMW offers a subscription (free for the first year) that gives access to favorable prices… but always depending on the time spent! For €17.99/month, the minute at the Ionity terminal costs €0.30. This explains the €16.50 paid for the outward journey (67.5 kWh in 55 minutes) and €14.40 (72.9 kWh in 48 minutes) for the return. You follow? No, and that’s normal.
10. With your caring friends you will argue
While I am aware that the debate surrounding the electric car has done nothing to abate, I continue to be amazed by the detachment that rages between the different demographics of motorists. At the end of this pivotal experience, packed with facts and figures, some of my friends, colleagues and nevertheless opponents go so far as to claim that it is only the result of the Coué method. An irrefutable argument.
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