Bet wins, they cross France in an electric Fiat 500

“After Thionville, you’re going to call the ACL, because you’re going to run out of power,” we tell Claudine in early July when she mentions the idea of ​​going to her holiday home in the south of France, more than 1,000 km from her home in Luxembourg in an electric Fiat 500.

The autonomy of approximately 260km of the small Italian car does not predispose it to swallow the kilometers of Autoroute du Soleil. Claudine knows this very well, but decided to take advantage of her stroller, named Tony, which she just acquired. Most of all, she wants to demonstrate to her husband, who is a bit mocking, that crossing France in an electric car is possible with a little preparation.

“It was a little frustrating to receive this car a few days before going on vacation to leave it in the garage for a month. It’s like receiving a gift and not being able to touch it. With the idea of ​​taking the road with the Fiat 500 to reach the south of France, my husband started to laugh, as did the salesman. I took it as a challenge”, explains Claudine, who lives in the north of Luxembourg and is a professor of hospitality. The choice of this small electric city car was made to make small daily trips.

Learn from friends and ACL

Before hitting the road with her 13-year-old daughter Alix, Claudine learned about best practices. “ACL has a new office in Ingeldorf. I went there to ask if it was better to do national roads or highways with an electric car, as well as some other advice. Obviously, for energy recovery, secondary roads are better, but I still chose the highway because of the more developed infrastructure, with rest areas and more charging stations. In the event of the unexpected, I really didn’t want to find myself deep in the French countryside. I like the risk, but it has to be controlled”, smiles Claudine, who is also following the advice of a friend who opted for electric motorization two years ago. “I wanted to be informed about cards to pay at charging stations and about applications to use, such as ABRP (for A Better Routeplanner, editor’s note) – which calculates the route in relation to the location of the charging stations – or even NextCharge, to find a nearby terminal,” says Claudine, finally ready to get started despite a few questions. For example, she doesn’t know if, on the way, she will be able to connect her Fiat to a Tesla-branded fast terminal, which is starting to open up to other car brands.

first difficult step

With 271km of autonomy from Erpeldange-sur-Sûre, Claudine and Alix are on vacation. At the same time, Claudine’s husband and youngest daughter leave two hours later in the family’s other car, a diesel BMW. After traveling 175.6km for an average consumption of 14.1kWh, mother and daughter are considering a first recharge in the rest area of ​​Toul. Bad surprise, the terminal is out of order. “We looked in the app for where to find a nearby terminal, telling ourselves that in Toul there must be charging places. Impossible to find them! After an hour of searching, we discovered a terminal in the parking lot of a McDonald’s. The charge is free, but when you start the car, it indicates… that it takes 27 hours for a full charge”, sighs Claudine. At this point, she really starts to doubt that she can make it to her destination.

The departure is from Erpeldange-sur-Sûre.

(Image: Modern House)

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First step and first bad experience to load the vehicle.

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The loading time can sometimes be extremely long, depending on the terminal chosen.

(Image: Modern House)

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Tesla’s Supercharger terminals stand out as a benchmark.

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In the Fiat 500, it costs just under 20 euros to fill up at a Tesla terminal.

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Sometimes, highway areas are the scene of a rat race among motorists.

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A moderate ride saves range and travels a greater distance.

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It is possible to charge an electric vehicle from a conventional outlet.

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A long journey in an electric car is like jumping from one charging station to another.

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Once charged, the vehicle has a range of over 250 km.

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Some applications, such as ABRP, provide information about the accessibility of a charging station.

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Charging stations are also available in shopping center car parks.

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Under ideal conditions, it takes almost an hour to fully charge the batteries.

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In total, the Fiat 500 covered 1,115 km and needed eight pit stops to recharge its batteries.

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Claudine and Alix hesitate. The rest of the family joins them temporarily. Two hours later, Claudine decides to go back, just a few kilometers. Even Laxou where the Fiat 500 is hooked up to a Tesla Supercharger. “The good surprise of the day! The Tesla Supercharger works and is incredibly simple. In 28 minutes, the battery is 80% charged.” As well as the two ‘adventurers’ morale, re-inflated to block. “From the beginning, we should have trusted the app and opted for Tesla terminals. In short, you shouldn’t want to outsmart the app,” laughs Claudine.

We arrived at a motorway rest area with 7 Ionity terminals. But there were dozens of electric cars waiting for a spot.

Terminals taken by the storm

After this first full electric tank (for about 17 euros), Claudine and Alix hit the road again, planning a stop at the Langres-Perrogney rest area, 150 km away. New test. “We arrived at a motorway service area with 7 Ionity terminals (supplier with a network of more than 400 terminals in Europe, editor’s note), but there were dozens of electric cars waiting for a place. And the tone is sometimes a little high. After 1h30 of waiting, we arrived at a terminal… but impossible to make it work. Fortunately, the Ionity helpline was responsive and quickly cleared the situation without charging us for the 35-minute recharge to reach 90% of our autonomy.”

Alix, 13, and her mother Claudine aboard Tony, an electric Fiat 500.

(Claudine and Alice)

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It took between 30 and 40 minutes to fully charge the Fiat 500 with a Tesla Supercharger

(Claudine and Alice)

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After two days on the road, Claudine and Alix arrived safely.

(Claudine and Alice)

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Another 160km, one more stop for a Tesla Supercharger, in Tournus. And 35 minutes to reach 90% autonomy (220 kilometers), all for 14.96 euros. Mother and daughter take the road back to Sainte-Colombe and spend the night at an inn called La Glycine.

“Halfway, we understood the importance of planning long trips with an electric car. It forces you to travel differently. Driving is also very different. With a temperature of 37°C, we don’t skimp on air conditioning. But I paid attention to my speed whereas normally, when I go down south, I am whenever possible in the third lane to go as fast as possible. At least this time I didn’t lose any points”, jokes Claudine.

Only 16 Superchargers Open to Non-Tesla

After a night of rest and recharging from an outlet at the guest house, Claudine and Alix head back to the Tesla Supercharger in Salaise-sur-Sanne. This time, 25 minutes is enough (for 100% autonomy and 8.84 euros), then head to the Nîmotel car park in Nîmes and its Tesla terminal. Only problem, the Supercharger in question is not open to other car brands. “In France, there are only 16 Superchargers open to non-Tesla. This will teach me not to check the information on the ABRP app”, admits Claudine, who then has only 52km of autonomy. “There were still 231 km to go and it was 41°C,” she sighs. “I won’t hide it at that point, we were fed up with the road!”

Supercharger terminals provided by Tesla in France.  (Photo: Shutterstock)

Supercharger terminals provided by Tesla in France.

(Photo: Shutterstock)

After a quick search in an app, head to a shopping center in Nîmes Ouest that has Allego charging stations. “In the end, we started the car and cheered up going shopping and enjoying the mall’s air conditioning.” Charging time: 75 minutes for 8.62 euros. 100% autonomy.

Another 40 minute stop at the Tesla Supercharger in Rivesaltes. After having driven 195.4km and a remaining range of 31km (15% of the battery). A little too much to do the 37.7 km to finally reach your destination.

Total: 1,115.2 km for 66.42 euros

Not dissatisfied with this adventure, Claudine, however, will not attempt the experience again next year. However, she met her challenge by understanding what it means to switch to an electric car for long distances. “It was a great experience. And I could see that there were also two worlds in electric when a Porsche driver asked me if she could replace me on the pretext that my little Fiat 500 needed less electricity than her vehicle.”

Despite the various unforeseen circumstances, Claudine does not regret the internal combustion engine, although she knows that the Fiat 500 is not cut out for this type of trip. Who lives differently. “I don’t know if we can say that we waste time on refills, because we can use this time to shop, read, etc.”, concludes Claudine, who believes that almost everything depends on good planning. Arriving with their daughter at their destination, they will be able to enjoy the sun of the south of France.

Claudine and Alix will have traveled 1,115.2 km in an electric Fiat 500 and made eight charging stops, for a total value of 66.42 euros, taking into account that two charges were free.

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