Going to Europe with your electric car


When you’re thinking of taking your electric car abroad, the first time can feel a bit daunting. But it can be reassuring to know that there are more than 240,000 electric car chargers in Europe and more than 34,000 rapid chargers.

Like any long-distance journey, you should be planning ahead anyway. Aside from charging, there are a few basics worth getting straight before your big trip.

First off, there’s sorting the obvious stuff such as a valid driving licence (check it’s still in date), car insurance certificate, passport, visas (if you need one) and comprehensive insurance cover.


Can I take my leased electric car abroad?

Yes, but you’ll need a Vehicle on Hire Certificate (VE103) and a letter of authority from your lease company. You’ll need to give the lease company a couple of weeks’ notice to make sure you get it in time.

Nissan Ariya


How will I know where to charge?

Your electric car will probably have a sat-nav to locate the nearest charging point during your journey. And there are also nifty websites where you can find the location of electric car chargers. These include Chargemap, Open Charge Map, Plugshare and Plugsurfing. Throughout Europe, motorway service areas, fuel stations, public car parks and supermarkets are good bets – as are train stations and big hotels.


What’s it like being on the road?

According to one intrepid explorer, who took an all-electric BMW iX3 on an 1100-mile round trip to the French Alps this summer, charging was relatively problem-free. On the way down, they stopped six times, on the way back four – with a driving time of 11 hours. They also discovered a big difference between the motorway network – usually excellent – and minor roads, which were variable. The costs of £190 in charge compared to £210 in a 40mpg diesel.

In fact, France is slightly ahead of the UK when it comes to the number of electric vehicles per public charging point. The International Energy Agency’s Global EV Outlook for 2022 says France has 14.7 electric vehicles per charging point, the UK 21. But unlike regular fuel pumps, where you pay at the service station, with electric charging you pay the energy supplier direct, either with a card or by using an app. For example, with Chargemap, you can pay a one-off 19.90€ registration fee to get an RFID card with access to 27,000 locations across France. 

Chargemap also has an app which tells you where the charging points are, how fast they are, whether they’re working and if they’re occupied. One of the most useful features of the Chargemap app is if you input your destination and the car you’re using, it tells you when and where to stop and recommends frequent but shorter stops.

Nissan full screen image


Can’t wait to get going? Here’s some inspiration…

Rental car company Hertz recently published a list of the top 10 road trips in Europe for electric cars. It ranked the routes by the number of charging points per mile to stop people worrying about range.

Top of Hertz’s list is a tour of the Netherlands, starting and ending in Amsterdam – and taking in all main cities and sights. With 2,559 electric car chargers en route, recharging is easy as pie.

Hertz’s Top 10 routes (with number of charging points per mile)

1. Netherlands tour, 14.62 chargers per mile
2. Northern Italy and the lakes, 4.73
3. Côte d’Azur, 4.06
4. Emilia-Romagna to Bologna, 3.55
5. Belgium and Luxembourg ‘chocolate and castles’ tour, 3.23
6. Rome and the Amalfi Coast, 2.68
7. Bern to Lucerne, 1.47
8. Valencia and the Costa Blanca, 0.73
9. French Alps, 0.55
10. = Catalonia, 0.55

Finally, Andrew and Flaviana Till (long-distance electric car adventurers and sustainability champions with a YouTube channel called Mr. EV) offered this advice for anyone thinking of taking their electric car abroad: “You do need a bit of patience, especially while the infrastructure is growing. Chargers can be quite busy in the summer and you might have to wait a bit to get on one, and then of course it takes a bit of time to charge. In general, we both loved it and have done lots of long-distance drives since. So we’re looking forward to the next European adventure!”


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