Electromobility is growing rapidly in Germany. A key issue is the expansion of the EV charging network. To test its suitability for everyday use, multiple long-distance record-breaking driver Rainer Zietlow completed a marathon tour across Germany.
Together with co-driver Dominic Brüner, Zietlow drove to a total of 652 fast EV charging stations between Oberstdorf and Sylt in the all-electric ID.3 between the end of September and the beginning of December, analyzing the long-distance suitability of the new Volkswagen , the We Charge digital charging service and the infrastructure of a total of 69 charging station operators nationwide. Around half of the stations visited were located along the autobahn, while a further quarter were in cities or rural regions. Zietlow’s conclusion: E-mobility already works – but there is still room for improvement.
“The German EV charging network is good overall and surprisingly close-knit; you can already get to the remotest corners of the country with an e-car – and back again.”
Also pleasing from the tester’s point of view: the Volkswagen We Charge app displayed free EV charging stations just as reliably in real time as the brand’s We Charge charging card was accepted almost without exception. There were also no problems with the common plug types CCS and Type2 at any charging station. And – with a few exceptions – Zietlow and co-driver Brüner did not encounter any serious obstacles during the charging process either.
According to Zietlow, in around 15 cases, individual charging stations were not usable – with 652 stations visited, this corresponds to a rate of 2.3 percent. “Since it can sometimes happen that a pillar is not usable, you should never charge at the last minute,” advises Zietlow. With a total distance driven of 28,198 kilometers, his team incidentally set the world record for “the longest continuous drive in an electric car in one country.” Zietlow’s worldwide record-breaking projects with Volkswagen models already include three world records and seven long-distance records, and he has already traveled to 130 countries with the car.
Record-breaking driver Zietlow sees strong potential for improvement in older charging stations, whose card readers don’t always work – but especially in the visibility and positioning of the charging stations themselves. “Charging parks on highways or in cities are often difficult to find, often too narrowly designed and not optimally illuminated.” In some places, there was a lack of more columns per location. And in a few, remote rural regions, there are definitely still “white spots” in the charging network, for example in parts of the Mecklenburg Lake District, in the Eifel or in Voigtland.
Zietlow’s appeal to charging pole operators, stakeholders and politicians: “To make electromobility even more successful, we need more visibility and presence of the poles themselves. Charging columns are symbols of a departure and a genuine change in values; they belong in the center of cities and in the center of parking lots, they should be prominently signposted and embody the bright future of climate-neutral mobility,” says Zietlow. “Pushing this, in my view, belongs at the top of the political priority list. EV charging needs to become the new normal as soon as possible.”
Zietlow found it remarkable how much general interest there was in the new charging stations throughout the marathon. “At almost every column, people approached us, wanted to learn more about our project or exchange experiences at fast-charging columns.” The Volkswagen ID.3 Pro S test vehicle with 77 kWh battery capacity attracted particular interest – and impressively proved to test driver Zietlow just how suitable electric vehicles already are for everyday use. The test car consumed an average of just 19 kWh per 100 km of driving on the marathon route. The ID.3 easily covered the longest distance of 420 kilometers without intermediate charging, with a range of up to 549 km in the WLTP cycle.