#ArcticEVRoadTrip Day 1 Review: Kent, UK to Dortmund, Germany

Netherlands Council of Europe stars sign alongside motorway

Yesterday marked the start of our long-awaited electric car journey. Our excitement was palpable as we hit the road, leaving behind the familiar UK surroundings of Kent, near London, and heading towards new experiences on the continent.

Our Day 1 leg included five countries, with wide variations in road surface quality, traffic levels, speed limits and – dare we say – motorway service station standards (you know who you are!)

Car charge and usage data

Our journey included a variety of situations affecting battery efficiency. There was the Eurotunnel with various stops and starts for border controls, the annoying traffic jam around Antwerp in Belgium, roadworks and the smaller roads around start, finish and charging points.

Even so, we managed a respectable 3.9 miles per kWh, as you’ll see in the overall stats for Day 1:

Driving statistics.  Distance 303 mi, net 253 Wh/mi, gros 267 Wh/mi

Story of the day

The first official step of the day was to leave our base in Kent. We had all our bags packed and were practically screaming with excitement and not at all nervousness about the trip. We drove down the M20, and switched to the other side of the road due to the fairly low-tech lorry queuing system that is Operation Brock. After overtaking a few unwitting cars which had joined the lorry queue, we did eventually move back to the usual side when we got close to Folkestone.

When we entered the Eurotunnel terminal, there were so many cars parked in the car park from tourists and commuters. With the school summer holidays in England only having just started, it’s a familiar sight at this time of year. One of the great things to see was that there were a lot of owners of various types of cars charging at the Tesla Superchargers. It would have been cool if they were doing their own road trips as well. We got through passport control and on to the train without any problems.

Once the train had started moving, the team got to work on planning the day ahead. We also listened to music and did some playlist building which was really good fun but also vitally important for the longest legs of the trip when we will need to build some motivation or atmosphere.

After the 35 minute journey from Folkestone, we arrived at the Eurotunnel exit near Calais, and drove straight to the Carrefour. This hypermarket is part of the Cité Europe complex. There we stocked up on supplies, including lots of fruit and water, so we were set for the adventure. Easier to buy stuff on the French side, due to various restrictions on what you can and can’t bring into the EU. We also picked up some Euros from a cash machine. Although we are trying to be as cashless as possible, there will be some things on the journey where cards are not accepted. But perhaps most importantly, we did buy a KitKat each which for reasons we can’t quite remember had been our plan on arriving in France for for a very long time.

Soon after, we got back on the road again. (We got sidetracked with the hypermarket stuff – it is a road trip after all.) Our satnav suggested one charge stop. As part of the rules we set ourselves for the trip, we didn’t do any pre-trip charge planning – we just see what’s available on the day. A single stop at a Tesla Supercharger in the Netherlands was recommended. But wait – what’s a road trip without sampling the local cuisine? So we stopped at an enormous petrol station in Belgium. You know, those ones where you pay 80 cents to use the loo and you get a 50 cent voucher back from the machine, which hardly anyone collects. This was great because we decided to buy some lovely Belgian chocolate. And as it turned out, there was marshmallow inside. This was, our photographer says, a very pleasant surprise.

Once we started out on the road again, the next stop was the Netherlands. It is a beautiful country but we observed much of it from the motorway as we needed to get where we were going. Evening was coming. This was however the country for our charging stop, with the specific stop in Eindhoven containing 24 Tesla stalls and many others, of varying speeds. It was outside a large hotel. Very efficient.

After the reasonably quick stop to charge, we decided to make a checklist of just one sweet treat – a chocolate bar – to eat in each country. On days 2 to 20 this is a fairly moderated affair but on our first day there are five countries to get through. For the record, in the Netherlands, we decided to have a Mars bar as it is definitely a team favourite.

It was yet again back on the road after this, and no stopping until we reached our hotel in Germany, which was very nice indeed. Because we are not staying long at each location except on our rest days, we didn’t go for anything particularly luxurious on the main trip legs. However, this hotel was pretty grand with the huge entrance lobby and all over marble (effect?) bathrooms, and we declare it a bargain.

Travelling through five countries in just one day was an enlightening experience. All along, our brilliant Tesla handled the interesting mix of situations efficiently.