Back home for Christmas

Hello everyone, my name is Iván, I am a member of the Business Development Department of Cable Energía. In this chronicle I am going to tell you about my return home for Christmas, a 13-hour trip from Seville to Oviedo via Portugal. It was quite an experience, because the term “journey” is not enough to cover what I experienced, which was not carried out in any way, but on board a 100% electric Nissan Leaf, with which I tested the charging points that I found along the way.

The aim of my trip was, on the one hand, to check if it is possible to make a journey by planning it and complying with the established dates and stops; and on the other hand, to live the experience of making a long journey in a 100% electric vehicle, to check first-hand the situation of the charging network in our peninsula.

Do you want to know my experience? I’ll tell you about it!

Day 1

Excited, I headed north. After two and a half hours on the road, I decided to stop in Badajoz. Specifically at the 50kw charger of the Nissan dealer. As soon as I arrived, I found a combustion car occupying the space reserved for EVs, you might think: “A car that has not respected the reserved area”. However, I went over to ask and they told me that they were leaving the car themselves to ensure that no other combustion vehicles were occupying the space, how ironic! They also informed me that it was only possible to recharge the car when the garage was open. Fortunately, I was able to recharge my car without any problems before continuing on my route.

The second stop I made on my journey was in the city of Évora, in Portugal. Once I changed countries, I needed to pick up a Portuguese RFID card, as the Spanish ones don’t work here. By the time I realised this inconvenience it was too late for it to arrive to Seville, so I had to ask someone to send it to Évora and go and pick it up there. In my opinion, it would be much simpler if there was a single card for chargers in different countries.

The charging point in question was at the service station of a Spanish company, the only fast charging point in the whole city. I followed the instructions to the letter, swiped the card, plugged the CHAdeMO plug into the car and it started charging. So far so normal. Not five seconds into the charging process, the screen warned of a problem with the charger, so I had to call the number indicated on the screen, which turned out to be disconnected. Now what? I tried to check the website but it told me to contact the local supplier. A lot of time had already been lost, it was late and I had not been able to reach my next destination, Setubal, where I had planned to spend the night. I looked for the nearest charger and accommodation for the night.

My trip planning was going well, until this moment, when I had to stay in Evora because the charger I was supposed to use was not working properly. Why do some EV charger search engines do not update the status of their chargers? From my experience on this trip, I think it is essential that if a charger is not working, the platform that shows it as active should be alert and change it. However, from all of this I will take away some learnings that I will apply on my return to take them into account in Cable’s strategy.

Day 2

My second day of the trip was much better. I stopped at the Lidl in Vila Franca da Xira where I had no problem to recharge, I took the time to have a relaxing breakfast and then I got back on the road.

In the afternoon, after having done many kilometres, I decided to stop to recharge at a Repsol petrol station in the city of Santarém to arrive calmly at the hotel where I would spend the night.

The charging point was working perfectly, but a funny thing happened, a Tesla plugged into the second plug and the charger stopped charging my Nissan. This is because the charging station is not intelligent and prioritises one charger only. Luckily I was close to the car when it happened and could see it. Finally, the Tesla went to recharge at a nearby charging point and I continued my charging without any problem.

Finally, overnight I left the car charging at the Tesla Destination Charger at the hotel where I was staying.

Day 3

On my third day of the trip I headed to Salamanca, where I had planned my first charge. Upon arrival, I found a Hyundai Kona and a Mercedes charging. I had never imagined that I would have to look for another charger due to the excess demand. The transition to EVs is very close!

I had no problem locating another charging point, as the Nissan garage in town had a charging point available for recharging.

I finally made it to my city! Obviously, I couldn’t end my trip without trying a charger in Oviedo. The chosen one was the charging point of the Nissan dealer in Asturias, very convenient, as all Nissan dealers offer free charging to Nissan users.

In the end, although I had to make a few changes to my travel plans, I managed to get back home in the time frame I had set for myself. After so many kilometres, charging stations and different experiences, I have come to the conclusion that we must continue to invest in charging infrastructure and commit to sustainable mobility. The problem that currently exists is not a lack of demand, but a lack of quality charging stations that allow citizens to choose clean energy.

I will take all these conclusions with me. When I return they will be transformed into useful information about the real experience of an EV user. My goal will be to try to find a solution to these problems. I got home for Christmas in an electric vehicle in 2020 with only some little changes in my planification. I am sure that next year I will be able to make it in the time I plan.

We have a lot of work ahead of us. However, we don’t lose hope or the will to keep working to make an uneventful journey possible. The beginnings were never easy, but I am sure that electric mobility is part of our near future.

I will return by a different route, and I will let you know soon how it went!