Across Europe in an electric car: part 2

Is it feasible to go on a good old-fashioned European driving holiday in an electric car? We find out – and try to break a world record in the process...

Porsche Taycan Brenner Pass

Lindau, Switzerland – Brenner Pass, Italy

Porsche Taycan in the Alps

The chargers in Switzerland were an older variant than the machines we’d used up to this point, but aside from a more basic info screen and a less ergonomical handle on the charge cable, the process of charging was exactly the same: tap the Ionity charge card on the reader, insert the cable and away you go. We decided to charge the car up to 95%, because the next section was another 200 mile stint and involved a big climb in elevation up to the Brenner Pass on the Austria-Italy border. 

We were soom grateful for that extra charge, too, because once we’d made our way through the tiny principality of Liechtenstein (which took a whole 10 minutes) the steep climb up to the Brenner Pass saw the predicted range drop very quickly. Arriving in Italy at 3:25pm we had less than 10% remaining. Therefore, to make sure we had enough charge for our next four-hour stint from Italy to Slovenia we elected for a full charge. 

Happily we saw a peak charge speed of 262kW – a personal best – and were even kept entertained by fellow road tripper in a Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo. Driving back from a holiday on the Amalfi coast, he had stopped in Florence to do some shopping at Gucci, before electing to drive a late night shift back to Hamburg. How the other half live, eh? 

Brenner Pass, Italy – Radovljica, Slovenia – Smednik, Slovenia

Porsche Taycan in a Swiss Tunnel (Probably)

On our run across northern Italy and southern Austria the Porsche Taycan did an impressive job of reminding us why it took home our 2021 Performance Car of the Year award. With its exceptionally precise, tactile steering, incredible poise and feelsome brakes it was an absolute joy to scythe through the 190 or so miles of Alpine roads. 

And better yet, because the majority of this stint involved descending down into Slovenia, the car spent most of its time recuperating energy through its clever adaptive regeneration braking system. The upside was twofold. First, it allowed us to maximise our cruising speed (we clawed back more than half an hour through the night) and second it meant that when we arrived in Slovenia at 7:30am the next morning, we still had 50% battery remaining. 

In less than half an hour the Taycan was ready to go once again, the news of which caused video reviews editor Doug Revolta to tiredly exclaim: “This whole charging process is more relentless than we are.” 

Smednik, Slovenia – Hungarian border 

Porsche Taycan in Croatia

It was only a short 82 mile burst to get to our second charger in Slovenia, and it was upon our arrival in Smednik that we relealised just what good progress we’d been making. The guards at the Slovenian border barely looked at our passports and our average speed was well beyond what we’d predicted. 

This gave us an idea. Instead of heading straight to Bosnia as planned, and from there on to Serbia, we could head north into Hungary, do a U-turn, head back into Croatia for one last charge and then squeeze in the last two remaining countries on our list. That would net us 14 countries – one more than our original target. And better yet, the risk seemed low. The worst that could happen is that we ran out of time and missed Serbia, but we’d still end up with lucky number 13. 

Porsche Taycan Neil and Doug working things out

We reprogrammed the navigation and went for it. In Croatia we found a country of wide open motorways and zero traffic, which allowed us to breeze up to the Hungarian border in around an hour and a half. We were looking good. Right up to the point where a rather stern border guard took one look at our non-EU passports and told us to pull off to the side and wait for inspection. 

The minutes ticked by achingly slowly as we watched car after car pass untroubled into Hungary. Around 45 minutes later (enough time for us to think it was all over) a guard appeared with our stamped passports and ushered us into his country. It was at this moment that we eyed the massive queue back into Croatia, so we decided to take another risk and tell the border guard that we had made a wrong turn into Hungary and needed to turn around. Mercifully, we were met with sympathy rather than fury and were somehow directed to the front of the queue and back into Croatia. Result.

Hungarian border – Sop, Croatia – Bosnia – Serbia 

Porsche Taycan Panning Croatia

Once free from Hungary it took us less than an hour to reach the nearest Ionity charger just south of Zagreb. With no time to spare, we plugged in for 23 minutes, giving us an 80% charge – just enough, we reckoned, to get us to Bosnia, Serbia and then back to a charger in Croatia. 

The next couple of hours passed in a blur of adrenaline and nerves. Setting off at 1:10pm, it took less than an hour and a half to reach the Bosnian border. Mercifully, our little convoy was waved through with nothing more than a stamp in the passport and no questions were asked when we did a sudden U-turn and headed back over the river Sava into Croatia for a third time. 

Had we been stopped, we figured there would have been no point in continuing. But a quick glance at the sat-nav told us the Serbian border was just 1 hour and 15 minutes away and we had 1 hour and 30 minutes until our 24 hours were up. So we turned the climate control off to maximise our range and set off.

The team at the finish line

At 3:53pm, 23 hours and 50 minutes after leaving the Netherlands, the Taycan reached the Serbian border. In that time, we’d averaged a speed of 61mph while on the move, covered 1199 miles and taken in seven charge stops. In 10 minutes less than 24 hours and despite the traffic in Luxembourg, the perilous border crossing in Hungary and the fact we had just 13 miles left in the battery, we’d visited 14 countries. The relief was palpable.

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