Electric Vehicle Journey – start
It’s been over a year since the last EV trip to the outskirts of Europe by the journalist team of WysokieNapięcie.pl (unchangingly, the #1 analytical site for energy and technology news in Poland). That was when they were travelling to the southernmost point of continental Europe — Punta Marroqui — in a Volkswagen ID.4. Regular readers will remember it was the third trip of their quest to reach all four corners of Europe, after reaching Nordkapp driving a Nissan LEAF in 2018 and then hitting Cabo da Raca in a Porsche Taycan in 2020. Only a year later and it seems like we’re living in a different world. Our winter expedition across the Nordics in a BMW iX was brutally interrupted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Nobody gives in, though, neither Ukrainians nor Poles, and our team is proving, yet again, that we don’t need bloody oil from Putin and can reach … Bosphorus on kilowatts.
Nissan, Porsche, Volkswagen, and now the time has come for another major EV player — Hyundai — and its electric crossover, the Kona EV. About 4 years ago, I was talking to one of Hyundai’s executives in Poland, off the record at a conference afterparty, and he claimed with a lot of confidence that Hyundai would be the first car manufacturer to fully electrify its entire fleet. The bet is still on, and Kona is now just one of Hyundai’s EVs available to drive, test, and buy. For us, it’s always the same — how quickly, how comfortably, how efficiently, how economically, and another how outside the car — how the charging infrastructure is doing along the way in Southeast Europe.
Electric Vehicle Journey day One: Warsaw — Dracula
We like setting off early, so we left Warsaw at 5:30am ready for the final adventure of our ultimate EV quest to the ends of Europe. Unlike the other trips, we had no detailed itinerary, no route to follow, so we played an American in Europe and took Google’s advice. Good decision, as after the first 200 km on express roads, we then drove through winding mountain roads we didn’t know existed in our beautiful homeland. Great scenic route, no question about that, but we’ll take a more developed one next time.
The benefit was we could compare the consumption and time efficiency in both of the environments. Driving at maximum allowed speeds on express roads and motorways, that is 120–130 km/h (75–80 miles/h) with consumption averaging 20–21 kWh per 100 km (62 miles). On other roads, including the picturesque mountain serpentines, we did 12–14 kWh per 100 km. Knowing that the Kona offers a battery with 64 kWh of capacity, its max range varied between 300 km (186 miles) on motorways and more than 500 km (310 miles) on other roads. You can’t complain, can you?
The team’s rough plan was to make it to Dracula’s home, Transylvania, which is about 800 km (500 miles) away from Warsaw. With the battery the Kona EV has, they could actually do it with just one charging session in the middle. Possible, but why? There is no hurry and who wants to drive nonstop for 7–8 hours?
In the end, they had three charging stops. The first one, still in Poland, was at one of GreenWay’s 40kW chargers. It was ideally located for breakfast, some final shopping they could still do with Polish zlotys, and a bio pitstop. “We didn’t need to charge in this spot, but we still spent a little over half an hour there, so it was simply a reasonable thing to do. 21 kWh later, we were on the move again and enjoying mountain serpentines in Slovakia this time (be careful with Google Maps). Our next stop was in Prešov, a town with a population of about 80,000, more or less the level of Polish district towns, with a good selection of super-fast chargers from GreenWay again. Prešov offered more super-fast charging points than most larger Polish province capitals, I’m sorry to report. The one our team chose was a hub of 4 super-fast points of 150kW and 6 slower points of 22kW. Choosing hubs on your long journey makes more sense, as you reduce the risk of queuing. It feels we’re slowly moving from range anxiety to queue anxiety in the EV family.”
Time to tell you how much it cost the team to drive all these kilometers and how much it could cost you, as the answer is not as easy as it is in the case of bloody oil. They used GreenWay chargers and they could use GreenWay pay plans or simply charge without a plan. The cost per kWh would range from PLN1.37/kWh ($0.27/kWh) using the plan to PLN2.09/kWh ($0.42) without a plan.
In our team’s case, they were using the card that rules them all — Shell Recharge. It gives you access to thousands of chargers across Europe with a fixed DC charging rate of PLN2/kWh ($0.40/kWh) regardless of the operator. Translating that into cost per 100 km, often used by bloody oil drivers, our guys would pay between PLN42 ($8.40) on motorways and PLN24–28 ($4.80 to $5.60) on other roads. This overall cost, however, is often lower on long-distance journeys, as you often charge for free in hotels or on free chargers (and, surprisingly, these freebies are growing in numbers). Again, you can’t complain, can you?
“Reaching Hungary, we couldn’t resist lángos with cheese and cream (a solid portion of fat and calories), meaning we had another opportunity to charge up a little. Ahead of our Kona was the final stretch of 250 km (155 miles) to reach our hotel in Cluj-Napoca in Romania. Needless to say, we booked a hotel that offered free charging, and finding one in Romania proved super easy, actually — it may have been even easier than in Poland. As requested, the charger was booked for us. The booking system is very smart and advanced — one of the hotel employees drives a Renault Zoe and simply plugs it in to wait for EV guests. In our case, that meant free charging of 46 kWh to be 100% full in the morning. You can’t complain, can you?”
So, they made it to the home of Dracula. Stay tuned for the rest of their journey southeast in the Hyundai Kona Electric.