Some of us want to take road trips with electric cars. Thanks to ever-more-powerful fast charging systems and ever-larger battery packs electric car road trips are increasingly possible. A year ago a friend in Romania informed me he would not consider an electric car until it could go 1200 kilometers with minimal stopping, because of a road trip he takes at least once a month. As extreme (and unhealthy) as that expectation is, we’re beginning to see a glimmer that electric cars can fulfill such a demand.
Road trip success is only partly due to the driving range. How much driving range does a gasoline car have? Yet we have no hesitation taking one on a road trip when an electric car road trip is seen with trepidation. The gasoline car advantage is refueling time. Hence, successful electric car road trips depend more on recharging time than on the total driving range.
A few days ago Bjorn Nyland, the Norwegian electric car aficionado, took a pair of 1000 kilometer drives. In one he finally succeeded at a long-time goal of driving 1000 kilometers in 10 hours. That calculates to a 100 kilometer/hour effective trip speed, or about 60 miles/hr. Both trips were taken across the road system in Europe, including Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, in late October meaning that conditions are nearing winter-time.
Mr. Nyland has taken several 1000 kilometer trips with results shown here. In this article we’ll go over the most recent two, the Nissan Leaf 62 kWh car which is highlighted, and the Tesla Model 3 LR at the top of the chart.
In this trip he drove a Tesla Model 3 primarily using the Ionity charging network. The “200 kW update” notation in the chart above has to do with an update Tesla made allowing higher power charging on Combo Charging System (CCS) charging stations.
The Ionity network advertises a 350 kiloWatt charging rate on CCS. The European version of the Tesla Model 3 has a CCS Combo 2 port, and with the 200 kW update it can charge at about 200 kiloWatts.
Mr. Nyland had documented a problem several months ago about a limited charging rate with the Tesla Model 3 on Ionity chargers. His videos documenting this issue drew the attention of both Ionity and Tesla, and a fix has since been made.
With the 200 kW update the charging rate peaked at 192 kiloWatts on Ionity, whereas at Tesla Supercharger stations the rate peaks at 140 kiloWatts.
This means the Ionity chargers give a significant performance over Tesla’s own charging network.
This is what the Ionity charger showed at one charging stops. Mr. Nyland reported having arrived at that station with 4% charge remaining, and you can see that within 13 minutes charge had increased to 51% and the charging rate was still 146 kiloWatts (obviously some tapering happening). This is with a Tesla Model 3 LR, so 51% of 310 miles means about 150 miles of driving range was added in less than 13 minutes.
At this pit-stop, Nyland arrived with 18% state of charge and after 2 minutes it had gotten to 26%. Importantly this screen capture shows the car can hit a peak charge rate around 192 kiloWatts. The earlier screen capture was much later in the charging session, and clearly the charge rate had begun to taper.
This video shows a 1000 kilometer trip using a 62 kWh Nissan Leaf. As you can see from the chart above, this was his second trip using a 62 kWh Leaf, the earlier being during the summer. Mr. Nyland says he wanted to repeat the trip in different weather conditions and indeed the trip did go a little faster.
The Nissan Leaf is hampered by two things. CHAdeMO charging infrastructure in Nylands area is limited to 50 kiloWatts. The other issue is what’s called “Rapidgate”, or a charge rate limit that occurs on the Nissan Leaf. Even though the car was charging with a 50 kW CHAdeMO station, the actual charging rate was at 19 kiloWatts in at least one of the charging sessions.
Theoretically this Nissan Leaf can charge at 100 kW, but the available charging stations are limited to 50 kW.
The result is that charging stops with the Leaf were much more relaxed than with the Tesla Model 3. That’s the difference between the two charging rates.
The excellent result for the Tesla Model 3 relies on the Ionity charging network – until other charging networks implement ultra-high charging rates. I see from the Ionity map, that it won’t help my friend in Romania since the closest station is near Budapest and therefore only a portion of his trip would benefit from Ionity’s chargers. Or speaking more generally, it seems Ionity is the only provider with such a high charging rate, and therefore the benefit from the higher speed is limited to Ionity’s stations.
Most of the CCS stations I’m finding scanning across Europe only support 50 kiloWatts, just like most CHAdeMO stations only support 50 kW. Until the charging networks upgrade stations beyond 50 kW, Tesla will continue to have the advantage in high powered charging. Except for Ionity.
Even though it was hit by Rapidgating for at least one charging stop, the Nissan Leaf did very well. It wasn’t that long ago that a 1000km trip in an electric car was a major accomplishment. The Leaf did make the trip more slowly than did the Tesla Model 3, but as significantly more slowly as the different charging rate would lead you to believe.
The peak rate of the Leaf, 43 kW, versus the peak rate of the Model 3, 192 kW, is about 1/4th the charging rate. But did the trip take 4x as long? Yes each charging stop took longer, but the total trip time was 14 hours not 40 hours. And the effective trip speed of 70 km/hr is nothing to sneeze at.
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