Properly hooked?

This July, Athlon International’s Alexander Heijkamp will hook his caravan to his EV for a family road trip to find out if those two are a perfect match.

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    Summer challenge: a family road trip with an EV and a caravan

    After successfully completing Athlon Project Zero, our Sustainability & Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Director Alexander Heijkamp rose up to a new electrifying challenge. This summer, he hooked a caravan to his electric vehicle (EV) and embarked on a family road trip to the south of France, to find out if EVs and caravans can be a perfect match.

    “Caravan culture is deeply ingrained in the DNA of my home country, the Netherlands,” says Alexander. “Lots of caravan enthusiasts are quite hesitant to switch to an EV, simply because they want to keep using their beloved holiday vehicle. It’s time to show them that you can perfectly combine the two.”

    Alexander already practiced in May, with a 150-kilometer test drive: he learned that the EV-plus-caravan combination has a range of about 200 kilometers, provided that he takes a 30-minute break every 2.5 hours. This also fueled his confidence (emission-free), and enabled him to convince his wife and three teenagers to join him in July on a carbon-neutral journey to a camping site in Bagnols-sur-Cèze. Over there, plenty of Destination Chargers and other public ones (as well as family fun, hopefully) awaited them.

    A change of pace

    On their way to France, the Heijkamp family covered 1,200 kilometers over two days. “As soon as we leave our home near Utrecht, the holiday starts,” Alexander said before heading over. “We’ll be taking things slow, since we’ll avoid the traditionally clogged Autoroute du Soleil every now and then. Because we’ll be charging the EV at camping sites during our overnight stays there, I expect we’ll only have to charge the EV once or twice a day, if we can access enough fast chargers.”

    Even though Alexander has several years’ experience as an EV driver, the idea of traveling with a caravan has generated a whole new kind of range anxiety. What will be the impact of the EV’s heavy weight-pulling duties on its potential mileage? To avoid an earlier-than-expected empty battery in the middle of French nowhere, Alexander has mapped out all suitable charging stations on the way to the sunny south. The family’s itinerary has been adapted accordingly, so the route allowed for plenty of sun-soaked breaks and minimal battery distress.

    “It’s a change of pace when traveling, yet ideal to stay focused and alert,” Alexander states. “You’re much more refreshed when you rest regularly – surely a better option than driving straight and being exhausted when you get there. Plus, driving more slowly and using cruise control will maximize the EV’s battery power.”

    Zero emissions, many benefits

    Throughout the journey, Alexander is keeping a travel log to track the EV’s range and usage. While he anticipates some challenges, such as the availability of charging stations in the French countryside and the drive back home in only two days, he values the many environmental benefits that come with EV trips.

    “For some people, driving directly to France with an ICE car would seem more convenient at first,” he explains. “However, climate change is all around us, and I don’t want to keep feeding it. My family and I will enjoy this trip even more, knowing that we won’t emit any CO₂ along the way.”

    Alexander’s tips and tricks for smooth EV journeys

    Prepare your trip in advance
    Where would you like to go? Are there any (fast) charging stations available there? Try to plan your itinerary around stations with a charging speed of min. 100 kWh.
    Leave with a fully charged battery
    Always leave with a fully charged battery, and start cranking up the AC (if needed) when your EV is still at the charging station. Since all the car’s appliances are battery-dependent, you’ll want to use the charging station’s power as much as possible before hitting the road.
    Get your fellow passenger(s) involved!
    Appoint a co-pilot and introduce them to all necessary charging apps and GPS configurations. They’ll be able to research and locate charging stations safely from the passenger seat, so you can focus exclusively on the road ahead.
    Regenerative braking
    Regenerative braking will help you charge during, for example, traffic jams. While the car is slowing down, the mechanism – commonly found on EVs – will use the resultant kinetic energy to charge the battery.
    Avoid Saturdays
    Try to avoid driving on Saturdays, since charging stations could be quite crowded, with long queues (and impatient relatives) as a result.
    Electric car charger

    Considering an EV road trip?

    Considering an EV road trip this summer as well? Get inspired by the official Athlon Project Zero aftermovie and discover our other game-changing efforts in sustainable mobility.