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Our Spanish road trip in an electric car

Updated: Dec 21, 2023

What is it really like? Our experience from September 2023.


Our electric hire car
Our electric hire car

Hiring the car

For the first time ever, going for our usual compact car, we accidentally booked an all-electric car! Not a problem, we thought, for our road trip from Costa Brave to Costa Blanca and then on to Costa del Sol.


Collecting at Girona Airport

We used Europcar, who were very helpful and friendly. Car was ready and clean, and the collection process was a lot quicker than we usually find when hiring cars booked through aggregation sites like holidayautos.com or jet2carhire.com. We had used jet2carhire.com.


CS2 Charger Plug

In the boot we found two charging cables, one which had a normal domestic plug at one end and a CS2 plug at the other and one cable with a CS2 plug at each end. There are different plugs around, it appears, but the CS2 were very common.




Apps

You will come to rely HEAVILY on apps to find charging points and manage the charging process.


Electromaps logo

Electromaps is a very useful app showing the charger locations and, most of the time, availability and whether they are working. Use the filters to select 'real time' status.


So, on to charging. We had assumed, as the first charging station we used was at Girona airport, that we could simply turn up, plug in, charge and pay. This was an Ionity charger, which was dead easy to use - plug in, use the QR code on the charger to find their web site, add credit card details and start charging.


We made the mistake of turning up at a charging station and expecting them all to be the same as Ionity; they are not! Most chargers need the relevant company app to enable charging to start and to make payment. This can be a problem, especially when one of the chargers we wanted to use was in an underground car park - no signal, doh! It also seems to take some time for a registration to go through, so doing it in advance saves time and frustration!


We wish we had downloaded each app and registered before using the charging points.


Here are the apps we used:

  • Recarga Publica Iberdrola

  • Zunder

  • EVPower

  • Enel X Way

Using Electromaps to find the chargers does not immediately tell you which company, and therefore app, you need. However, sometimes people have uploaded photos of the chargers which is most useful. It can help locating the charger and also which company it belongs to.


Most apps also give you a real time indication of how much the battery is charged; very useful when your having a coffee whilst waiting!

Screenshots from the Electromaps app
Screenshots from the Electromaps app

Planning our road trip

Another lesson learned was that the available distance range shown by the car is NOT what it says after a charge. We got in to the habit of assuming we would get about 75% of the range the car told us after a charge.


So, our first long trip from Girona (Costa Brava) to Moraira (Costa Blanca) went like this:

  • Initial charge at Ionity charger at Girona airport. It was a super-fast charger so charged up quickly (about 15 minutes from 30% to 80%). We wish we had been a bit more patient and charged to 100%

  • Second charger was identified using the Electromaps app. It wasn't working, nor was the second one we found. The third was a slower charger in an underground car park - app and signal problems, but we eventually got some charge

  • We spent some time with the Electromaps app and planned out the next two stops, using the filters to find super-fast and working chargers. These were at service stations and worked well, once we had downloaded the apps and registered

Another lesson learned: even though your car might have max charging capacity of 100kW, you can plug it in to a 350kW charger and it will charge as fast as it can.


Next lesson learned, chargers at service stations tend to be super-fast chargers.


For our second long trip of Moraira to Estepona (Costa del Sol) we were better planned. Four charging stops were planned, service stations identified, all working, went to plan.


Final lesson, planning is vital!


Final Points

At our villas, we were able to use the charging cable using domestic sockets. We were lucky that either the cable reached a socket, or we found an extension lead to use. This is a very slow way of charging, but leaving it charging overnight worked well.


Conclusion

Would we hire an electric car again in Spain - maybe

Would we buy an electric car in the UK - yes for day-to-day pottering around, as long as we also had a petrol/diesel car for long journeys!

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