The electric car brings back the romance of road tripping in the past
Sam Philip, TGTV's scriptwriter, goes on an adventure. An electrically powered adventure indeed. We wish him luck
I have a soft spot for the idea of a 1920s road trip. If it involves some crazy aristocrats, terrible roads, a car called the Pompidou-Whippet Munificent or something and an amusing episode where the hapless travelers in a village have to wrestle a ferocious pig in exchange for a splash of gas, then I'm I'm the first to drag the yellowed old paperback away from the antiquarian bookstore, believe me.
Road tripping in the Roaring Twenties was so incredibly romantic. The adventure! The danger! Plowing along over the gravel, no idea how long it would take before you sputtered to a stop along the road. How much more beautiful does it have to be? Unfortunately, in these times of reliable cars, Google Maps and an app that allows you to order ahead at Starbucks, all the mystery and romance of a road trip has disappeared like snow in the sun. At least in Europe and the US.
At least, that's what I thought. Because when I write this, I am busy planning the summer holiday with the family, during which we will drive from England to our favorite spot in the French Alps; a journey of almost 1,200 kilometers.
Road tripping is different with an electric car
In recent years we have refined the pit stop strategy: we fill the car with petrol and sandwiches, make one ten-minute fuel and toilet stop halfway through France, and then we are there. There is no danger for those who had the presence of mind to breed children with a bladder of steel.
But then. This year we will make this trip for the first time in an electric car: a Skoda Enyaq RS. The official range is a respectable 515 kilometers. In the real world that leaves something like 400 kilometers. But that's not going to happen. We drive along the French autoroute, have the air conditioning on and on the roof there is a trio of bicycles that make short work of aerodynamics - a sacrifice we are happy to make, since renting bicycles shows weakness.
'If not a leap into the unknown, then at least into the highly uncomfortable'
According to my calculations, we can expect a range of 150 miles at most. Which, if we stick to a strict charging strategy with a little wiggle room, amounts to recharging every 100 miles. So instead of one stop of ten minutes, we should take into account about six stops of, say, 45 minutes each? I hope I'm looking too gloomy. But that's the thing: I just don't know. The adventure!
Or are the fuses blowing now?
Okay, it might not be quite the same as crossing the Great Basin desert in a Rickenbacker Sedan with nothing more than a mohair blanket, a nineteenth-century dueling pistol and the Thirteenth Duke of Winchilsea for company. But it's a leap into… well, if not the unknown, then at least the highly uncomfortable.
Naturally, I'm almost hysterically excited about this retro discomfort. I even have a paper road map – do you remember that? – full of stickers with fast charging stations and kilometer-per-kWh calculations.
I learned how to say in French: 'Good afternoon, dear sir, can you show me the way to your fastest electrons?' I have an emergency whistle because I feel like it might come in handy. It's going to be difficult. Heartbreaking, probably. I can not wait. The romantic, god-knows-how-it-will-end road trip of the 1920s is back, thanks to a plug.