Hi, I’m Simon, the founder and CEO of StepTribe. This is my story of our new electric car and our family vacation to Spain by road covering over 5000km in 4 weeks in our new EV.
Recently, it was time for us to replace our car. This time it was not the usual discussion of the brand, model and colour but more a discussion of the fuel needed for the car and whether now was the time to make the jump to electric driving.
I live in the Netherlands which is one of the best countries in Europe for EV charging stations so if you can change to electric driving probably here is the easiest place to do it (Norway may be easier!). However, a few times each year we drive further afield and when we do the car is normally fully loaded with 2 adults, 2 teenagers, a dog, 4 bikes and all the luggage that goes with a family trip. So we had to think long and hard if an EV could meet this need as well as our everyday short trip requirement.
We made our decision against the advice from a couple of car salesman from major brands. 5 weeks ago we took delivery of our new electric vehicle! And, guess what, 2 days later we left for our planned summer holiday with the car fully charged (both in terms of the battery and it being fully loaded up).
From our home near Amsterdam, via our old home of Luxembourg, down to Barcelona and then 4 weeks of holiday/work travelling around Catalonia, before driving back over the Millau Bridge and through Belgium back home. Over those 4 weeks, we travelled around 5000kms.
Living with an EV, even on a long journey, was easier than I expected. There are charging stations on the main routes, and in the main service areas, that make longer journeys more manageable. However, driving for around 250kms and stopping to charge for 20-30mins does add more time to the journey. Usually, there are plenty of charging spaces, but on a couple of occasions, we had to wait, which meant a stop time of closer to an hour and then this really adds a lot of time to the journey.
Do you save money? Well for sure the electricity is cheaper than the petrol or diesel equivalent. But with 2 teenagers in the car, the cost soon adds up with a trip inside the service station. Drinks, crisps, biscuits, a sandwich all bump up the cost up a little. Planning in advance would alleviate this!
The long journeys were fine. It took a little longer than usual overall but there was only one occasion for the well-publicized “range anxiety“. Driving a little slower meant we cruised in to the charging bay still with 20km range to go. That was the closest we came to zero.
Once in Spain, not known for it’s EV charging network, we often were able to charge for free and often the charging parking space was in the center of town so you got to park for free too. So there are advantages. The only thing to remember is each charger often needs its own card or app to get it started so now I have about 7 different Spanish charging apps on my phone.
Why did we decide on electric and why do I think this is important?
There are a number of big issues in the world at the moment which influenced our decision.
Firstly, climate change. I wanted to do our bit to help. Whilst we are only a one-car family, we do use it a lot so by converting to electric we hope that this will reduce our emissions. I only have to look at the devasting floods in Belgium, Germany and our old home of Luxembourg recently, as well as the forest fire behind us in Spain, to see that climate change is definitely happening. Whilst countries and large companies need to make changes to see a real difference, I hope we can all play our own small part to fight the change in our climate. I don’t pretend that by buying an EV I have done everything I can, or that it is all I can do, but it is at least a small step for us as a family to helping.
The second issue is our health. Covid is upon us. Aside from that though, our overall health is suffering. The pandemic has not helped this but we, as humans are suffering from inactivity and our sedentary lifestyles. An electric vehicle does not help this but the electric vehicle was able to transport our 4 bikes and sports equipment to enable us to be active whilst away. I was worried that this would not be possible or that the range would be so badly affected it would be painful. It wasn’t.
It also brings me to life in the Netherlands where EV’s are popular. But so are bikes (and walking). The transport network is vital to helping play a role in climate change and a healthy lifestyle. Cycle paths are everywhere and they are mostly away from cars and clearly marked so safe for all to use. They are also well signposted. This helps us to be active.
It also made me think about my company, StepTribe, which is trying to get people active through steps. We travelled around 5000kms. At my height, 175cm (on a good day), that’s 6,925,190 steps, or based on my daily average step count, 384 days of walking. Even the 1350kms to Spain was 1,877,858 steps or 104 days of walking.
An EV definitely took us longer to travel on our holidays than our old diesel car. But only a few hours longer based on a +/- 15-hour journey. Walking would definitely have taken us a lot longer, but it would have been healthier. However, at least with an EV, the emissions (tailpipe) were at least the same as walking and has proven to me an EV is possible for whatever journey you intend to do.