With an electric car from Munich to Lake Garda – that’s around 400 kilometers. With what preparation and what feelings does the editor have for the long journey by e-car standards? A field report.
“Are you satisfied with that?” A voice sounds next to me. I look to the left while charging the Kia e-Niro in Innsbruck. A man is standing three loading bays away and is having a little refreshment with his wife. It’s mid-morning, and breakfast includes bread, salami and a liter of milk in a Tetra Pak. Rarely seen on the Autobahn.
It seems to be quieter at the charging stations for a snack, because his vehicle, a VW Tiguan, has a combustion engine on board. Accordingly, no charging cable is plugged in. I’ve heard that e-car drivers are spoken to more often – but I thought that was limited to electric “companions”.
Since I had only driven a few kilometers with the test car at the time, I had to leave the answer open: “I can’t judge yet, I’m just testing the Kia.” If I were asked the question again, the answer would be a friendly one “Certainly”.
Driving from Munich to Lake Garda – it’s not a big deal. Around 400 kilometers, I’ve driven that route many times. When the tank empties, you simply fill up super quickly. Or diesel. With an electric car, my feeling before departure is different, somehow more tense. Where do I fill up if the battery runs out too quickly? What happens if the charging stations are occupied? How fast does the e-Niro charge anyway? What happens if the charge card doesn’t work? Lots of questions that don’t give me a sense of security. Downloading a handful of helpful apps alleviates my uneasy feeling, but it remains latent.
The day before I leave, I first test a few charging stations, because the test car arrived at the editorial office with a remaining range of 143 km. The first charging station that was hit was occupied, a tow truck of all things had made its way there – but not refueled. It’s off to a good start. Station number two was completely occupied, I only had success at number three. The Kia’s Type 2 connector should be able to charge the battery with up to 22 kilowatt hours. With a battery capacity of 64 kWh (the test car had the large battery on board, the smaller variant is content with 39 kWh), the battery would be full in a maximum of three hours if the battery were completely discharged.
But 22 kW charging power is wishful thinking – between 5 and 7 twitched towards the battery every hour for me. Charging takes time, and this also applies to holidays. And our e-car pros say anyway that more than 11 kWh per hour does not flow through a type 2 plug.
It starts on Whit Monday, don’t worry. A son is on board – if we’re going to lie down, at least it’s not that boring. The mentioned stopover in Innsbruck is not necessary, but only serves as a practical test and as an introduction to the report. Instead of the 22 kWh, about 11 kWh flow through the cable, but it works. After ten minutes I break off, the test is passed. I wasn’t quite as successful with a CCS fast charging cable, which should actually flow around 50 kW. But I couldn’t cope with the error message “Switch off ignition” because the ignition was off and despite several attempts, the technology didn’t want to work the way I did.
Anyway, continue towards Lake Garda. The consumption is limited, which is due to my driving style. Because if the fast charger doesn’t work, the car teaches you to drive humbly. The way to Lake Garda is grateful because there are numerous speed limits.
And before I have to charge for an hour to save 30 minutes beforehand, I prefer to drive slowly – that’s my reasoning. To do this, I almost exclusively used the “Economic” driving level and did without “Normal” or “Sport”. With “Economic” the car brakes as soon as I stop depressing the accelerator pedal. This takes some getting used to, but saves the battery because the energy is recovered by braking (technical term: recuperation). Also saves brake pads. It’s a bit annoying on a steep incline, but if you move the shift lever from “D” to “N” and back again, it’s easy to adjust.
The move should pay off. Consumption in the Kia e-Niro is really surprisingly low if, like me, you drive 98 percent economically. “Then you were driving at 96 km/h in the right lane, just fast enough not to annoy the trucks,” said an Efahrer.com colleague smugly when he praised my achieved consumption of 12.3 kWh expressed at 100 km. Such consumption values cannot be achieved without this extremely defensive driving style, that’s clear. I drove more than 400 km with one battery charge and still had a pleasant remaining range safety buffer of 100 km (the almost 2 kWh that I had filled up in Innsbruck have already been deducted).
But I also wanted to go back. There was no opportunity to fill the battery in the Airbnb apartment, so let’s see what goes where. The network on Lake Garda is now quite well developed, but the first charging station I wanted to go to did not exist. In the parking lot at Gardaland, the Enel Plus column didn’t turn on, which was a shame because then the tank would have been full in the evening. But about 1.5 km from our accommodation there was a type 2 charging station that charged at an average of 5 kW per hour. At some point the battery was full again. Let’s get home.
I had some concerns about the topography. From Lake Garda to the Brenner Pass, it feels like it’s all uphill, and that’s reflected in the consumption. Although I was again hardly driving faster than the trucks, my battery buffer was quickly used up and the message from the car appeared that I would not reach my destination with the charge. The difference grew to minus 25 km. So I would have charged again in Innsbruck, but I still counted on the fact that it would go downhill after the Brenner Pass and the battery would fill up again. The thought turned out to be correct. I got home with 30 km remaining.
I can’t say much about the downloaded battery apps. I used “Kia Charge” regularly, plus Google. “A Better Routeplanner” also has a very good reputation or “Chargemap”.
The failed charge with the CCS cable gave me no peace. In Taufkirchen near Munich there is a fast charging park with 20 HPC charging points. Said, done – and? It works. The energy flowed into the battery with up to 75 kWh – after less than 40 minutes the battery had reached 73 percent again. That makes it even more fun.
With the large battery, the Kia e-Niro is fully suitable for everyday use. Even if you drive faster, a range of 400 km is absolutely realistic. My son was also satisfied and compared the car with the train because the Kia “glides along and doesn’t make any engine noises”. The propulsion is remarkable (I tried it once, of course), although according to the speedometer it is locked at 180 km/h. In truth, it’s only 167 km/h. In addition, the e-Niro has a high-quality finish. Small drawback: the trunk is not exactly big.
The test car is no longer built, now the successor should continue the success. I’m curious how it drives. But the tested version has shown that a trip from Munich to Lake Garda is possible without any problems. If you want it comfortable, you should only make sure to book accommodation with a charging station in the immediate vicinity. But otherwise all good.
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