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.”