Kona Electric Day Two: Transylvania – Bulgaria
“The second day of our electric journey is a totally different story. Romanian motorways sliding through mountainous landscapes with a great supply of fast chargers helped us move along much more quickly than on the first day. Studying the data made available by the European Commission, we can clearly see Romania has more charging stations than Poland and it’s developing at a faster pace. Of course, the development is not spread evenly and larger cities dominate in the EV revolution (money talks, as usual).”
The other pain of this early-stage development is shared with Poland — many of the chargers are still unavailable in roaming. It feels like travelling a few years back in time in Western Europe. Many operators, multiple apps and cards and what not, crazy. We know it will change and improve, but for today, our team was a little frustrated.
In good adventure spirits, though, the Kona booked itself a place in a nice hotel in Bucharest with a free charger for guests. Once bitten, twice shy — our journalists made a check-up call first. Does the station actually exist? Yes! Does it work? Yes! Isn’t the parking spot occupied by an ICE car? No! Does staff know how to operate it? Yes! Come and see for yourself. They did go and see for themselves. It existed, it worked, the parking spot was free, and you only needed to download an app to start it … and the staff didn’t know what app. … Doesn’t it sound like we’ve bee there before?
Anyway, the decision was quick and reasonable: “Let’s drive on to reach Bulgaria and have a shorter drive to Istanbul on day three. That should also help us avoid morning traffic in Bucharest and around.” Smart reasoning. Another hotel was chosen right after crossing the Bulgarian border. Same story. Hotel staff: Of course, please come; we have a charger, it works, and it’s ready for you. Reality: not a charger but a 7kW plug that only worked at 5kW and it cost PLN50 ($10). “Considering crazy fuel prices in Bulgaria (PLN9/liter of diesel) it was still a good bargain and we could sleep peacefully while kWh were flowing in.”
Day Three: Bulgaria – Istanbul
“What a great feeling it is to wake up to a fully charged car. No ICE vehicle can do this stunt. Being fully charged was particularly important in Bulgaria, as only one operator, Eldrive, was included in our roaming card plan. The other major player, Fines Charging, is getting ready to join, so things will improve. With a range of 500 km, we didn’t worry much, we were sure to find the right charger within that radius. It’s worth noting that Bulgaria already has some good charging infrastructure with many hubs and fast chargers. What it is missing, however, is … EVs. Compared to Romania, we could see noticeably fewer electric cars on the roads. The reason for that situation was explained to us by Kalina Arsova, head of the Bulgarian Association of EV Owners, who contacted us after seeing we were travelling across the country. Bulgarians enjoy very limited incentives to buy EVs — reductions in some local taxes and free parking. Considering the cash incentive of €10,000 in Romania, the difference is huge, and explains why Bulgarians buy second-hand EVs from their neighbours.”
How about a test we didn’t really want to do?
“Well, we hit a traffic jam, a bad one, with no way out, and it took 4 hours to clear (it was a car accident on a mountain pass). What can you do but monitor the Kona’s performance, and it soon proved quite interesting. With 11°C outside and 21°C inside, with air conditioning on, seat heating on, lights on, radio on, phone charging on, and all other car systems on (including GPS), the Kona used 2% of its battery over the whole wait of 4 hours. Fossil fuel vehicle drivers all around turned their smelly cars on and off to heat up a little. We didn’t turn Kona off for a second. 2%. Being at 75%, we could wait there well heated with music on for … 6 days. You can’t complain, can you? Well, thank God we didn’t need to run the test for that long and we finally moved on to hit our worst daily pace — 600 km in 14 hours (including charging for 55 minutes).” The one thing we are happy to report is that it would have taken the same in any other car and their moods couldn’t be spoilt once the team reached their final destination.
After Nordkapp, Cabo da Roca, and Punta Marroqui, WysokieNapiecie.pl arrived at the Bosphorus Strait, where Europe meets Asia. As far as we know, they are the first people ever to drive to Europe’s northernmost, westernmost, southernmost, and easternmost points in an electric vehicle. Yes, you can congratulate the team on the road. For my part, I am humbly hitting the keyboard at home reporting the stories they share. We’re all proud.
What matters today is that the final stage of our team’s European quest was done on one roaming card, Shell Recharge. Finally! No extra apps, no multiple cards, simply one card that rules them all. Of course, the team used some hotel charging over the 2000 kilometers (1242 miles) and the 6 countries travelled. They were sometimes challenged with unusual chargers, but at no stage did they give up on the one card rule. You can’t complain, can you?
Ah, and one more thing, the journey only begins now. After reaching Bosphoros, the Kona EV will be tested all around Eastern and Southern Europe, and I will be reporting more EV adventures quite shortly. Stay tuned!
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