I have been traveling by electric car for months. These are my tips for the uninitiated

travel in Electric car for Spain it is possible. But the reality is that it always requires having an accompanying infrastructure at hand, essential planning before leaving home and knowing how to get the most out of our car.

In recent years, I have taken a few trips with an electric car, I have seen how the charging network has changed and, little by little, a long trip with this technology has become possible in our country. Although with certain limitations.

Since I write for Xataka, I’ve tried a few electric cars with some regularity, but I’ve also traveled with them before. Although, to be more exact, he could say that he had “suffered” a trip with them. This has completely changed and with good planning it is possible to reach almost any point in Spain.

That’s all I learned add kilometers by electric car and what we must take into account if we want to do it with confidence.

What kind of trip do we want to do?

This question, at the moment, is fundamental before starting with an electric car. When someone asks me to recommend a car to buy, it is essential to know what their daily routine is and what types of journeys they make throughout the year.

The average driver uses his car little or very little, since it is estimated that 97% of the time it is stopped. But when someone buys a car, they’re not just buying transportation, they’re buy freedom and the flexibility that no other mode of transport offers.

For this reason, before leaving home, it is important to know how we plan our vacations. If the idea is to go to the beach, spend a few days off and return to our habitual residence, the electric car is a more than useful product.

If, on the other hand, we want to do active tourism in the destination, it is essential to know clearly in advance where we want to go and how many kilometers are we going to do each day. In the latter case, I recommend taking a look at Electromaps before you leave home and answering the following questions:

  • How many kilometers per day do we want to do?
  • Is there a sufficient charging network to leave the car on charge while we visit?
  • Is there a socket in the hotel or accommodation where we are going to spend our nights?

It is possible that if our target is lower than the 300 kilometers per daywe can return to our destination each day and leave the car to charge overnight to charge the next day.

But if we plan to do more kilometers or if our accommodation does not have a plug, it is advisable to go through the application of Electrocards and be clear on which cities or towns have plug, what type, with what power and their schedules. And, with all that in mind, plan our route.

Traffic jams, the biggest problem

At the moment there is a bigger problem in Spain than the autonomy of electric cars: there are few sockets and they are poorly distributed. Traveling to the Levant coast is not the same as traveling to the Galician coast. In fact, I advise you not to visit the latter without much planning your itinerary.

if they existed fast chargers enough, the autonomy of electric cars would take a back seat. But last February, we only recorded 109 outlets that will provide 150 kW of power. To get a better idea: between Pontevedra and Bilbao there is only one Tesla supercharger available, passing through A Coruña, Ferrol, Oviedo, Gijón or Santander.

In this little guide how to charge our electric car, we explained how to always have the batteries ready. Before you get to an outlet, it’s important to know the charging speed.

Charging stations managed with alternating current, typically operate at 3.5 kW, 7 kW, 11 kW or up to 22 kW. Obviously, the higher the power, the faster the car will charge, but it is also more likely that we will be charged for charging (and at a higher price). Direct current gives us fast charges, currently up to 350 kW, although the most common are powers of 50 kW.

In this case, it is important to know what power our car supports. To give a practical example, it is not necessary to connect the new kia niro electricwhose charging power is 100 kW, in a 150 kW charging station, since it will not deliver all its power and, in addition, we are surely paying a higher price for charging.


where to stop and why

Directly linked to the charging sockets, it is important to check What are these conditions?, especially slow-loading ones. Many are free in malls or owned by municipalities (some charge very little) so this might seem like the perfect solution if we want to recharge our car batteries while sightseeing.

But, very important, before arriving, it is advisable to look at the conditions of use. Some outlets are only available during business hours, others require consumption at their facilities (hotels or restaurants), and others have time limits. All these limitations are usually specified in the Electromaps application, where users leave their opinions and experiences.

A concrete example: the shopping center X Madrid It has sockets with powers up to 7 kW. They are free but power cut every 90 minutes. An afternoon at the mall will force us to get off at least once to move the car and restart the process if we want to recharge for more than an hour and a half. For a plug-in hybrid it can be interesting, in an electric it is clearly insufficient.

And just as it is important to choose this type of space well, it is also important in the case of fast recharges. The more power the poles offer, the further they are from urban centers, since the installation generally requires a lot of land.

Therefore, and especially in summer, it is important to look for fast charging stations where you can at least have a coffee while waiting. In the worst case, it is good that you have a shaded area nearby. And don’t even think about leaving the car behind. Tesla already charges inactivity fees if the battery is full and we don’t release the plug.

Other practical tips

For the moment, the charging stations of the different companies require you to go through their own apps to make payment at every hold we step on. The result, at the moment I have the following applications installed on my mobile phone: Electromaps, JuicePass (Endesa), Iberdrola RecargaPublica, Wenea, Zunder and Tesla.

Electric car charging

For this reason, before leaving home, it is advisable to have all the battery of applications that we hope to need, to register, to fill in the forms and to complete all the card data. Not all applications allow loading immediately after registration. Endesa, as was my case, reserves about 20 minutes to activate the account once the form is completed. This meant that on my first visit to one of their outlets, it took half an hour to start charging the car.

In addition, the power offered by an outlet is the maximum you can deliver and not the one who will really deliver us. A good example is the image on the left, with a 150 kW pole recharge that did not exceed 80 kW. Here are some reasons that may vary. Some of them, like those related to the battery, I will explain to you later.

In my case, the most reliable network was that of Tesla. Its socket has always delivered 150 kW of power in a sustained manner. Other companies, such as Endesa or Wenea, have not exceeded 75 and 90 kW of power despite announcing recharges of up to 150 kW. Which can be an additional problem if we go with the right timing. My advice is to let us plan the route with some extra time at each stop.

It should also be borne in mind that the maximum power is distributed when there are two vehicles plugged into the same socket. That is to say that there are ten free places which offer up to 150 kW, and two cars are placed in parallel, power will be distributed and we can only reach a maximum of 75 kW. As much as possible, space should be left between car and car.

When we’re on the move

If we have a clear route and we know where we can stop and when, it is important that we also have a plan B. As I said, it is possible that a pick-up may not load as quickly as expected but, in addition, you can end up with the unpleasant sensation of seeing how the only 150 kW outlet within a radius of 100 kilometers does not work.

This is what happened to me, for example, with the BMW iX. No one had reported the incident in Electromaps (it is possible that he was the first to find the station out of order) and the solution went through there load much slower (50 kW) or continue to the next point at 150 kW, which was 116 kilometers away and required me to deviate slightly from my trajectory.

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Example of load lower than expected power.

So my advice is that we always have extra electricity available in the car battery. It’s better stop twice in quick 15-minute recharges that drain the battery and find that the long-awaited quick plug either doesn’t work or delivers less power.

Therefore, I always go out with the battery fully charged and, while riding, I try to keep it between 30 and 80% of its capacity. In this way, I guarantee that the recharge is as optimal as possible (above 80% the charging power generally decreases a lot) and I have a cushion in case of problems along the way.

Regarding driving technique. The best is be easy on the throttle and keep in mind that the higher our cruising speed, the greater the consumption of an electric car. Driving at 20 km/h faster or slower can make a substantial difference in kilometres.

On these types of tracks, I turn off (or minimize) the regenerative braking, so that when you lift your foot, the car does not slow down at any time. The braking gain does not compensate for the new acceleration that we have to do. Therefore, it is best to maintain a sustained speed.

If I activate the regenerative braking downhill, since most cars can be driven with one pedal in these circumstances, I will recover a good handful of kilometers and reduce the cost of the brakes.

Finally, I always recommend selecting the route in the car navigator. some models preconditioning temperature of the battery when the selected charging point is reached (by heating it or cooling it), so that we have the right temperature so that the car can receive the greatest amount of energy possible.

These are my main tips for starting long-distance journeys with an electric car, which, as I said, are based on three fundamental pillars: planning the route, knowing all about the charging stations and driving according to what we have need every time.

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