It’s Like Caravanning in the 1960s

It's been an exciting day. But, oddly, I don't mean the journey by train, funicular and open-top-mini-train-carriage up into the mountains overlooking Mont Blanc. Panoramic view of glaciers and all. No. It was the day the New Motion card arrived in the letter box of our chalet. And we snaffled a free charge on a Swiss motorway. We may still be newbies. But we risk becoming EV bores.

The New Motion card was posted in Holland in the middle of last week. So arriving in the Swiss Alps on a Monday morning is a speedy delivery. All the more surprising when you consider the envelope had an address which had lost something in translation. The right postcode – but the name of our village strangely mangled.

But it's here. Actually, we didn't get a RFID card, we got a New Motion key fob. The leaflet suggests it might not work as well as a full size RFID card. But, hey, it was still exciting to get it in the post. And we'll be able to use some of the charge points we couldn't use on the way out when we just had the app. 

Obviously we would have used the New Motion tag today if we possibly could have. And so it was with mixed feelings that we stumbled across a completely free charging post at a motorway service station near Martigny. We still had about 82% charge when we arrived at the charge point. But being cheapskates we opted to snaffle a charge up to 97%. It was free, wasn't it?

Someone was already using the CHAdeMO. And that seemed to mean we couldn't use the CCS at the same time. But the type 2 charger still worked (and was surprisingly quick). As soon as the hybrid chaps next door disconnected, we were right in there with the CCS. Quicker still.

And caravanning? Well both of us travelled across European camp sites with our surprisingly adventurous parents in childhood summers. It was the late sixties and early seventies. Foreign travel was still a leap of faith with currency controls, yellow painted headlights, a new currency at every border, the holiday box which had been filled with Vesta ready meals, tinned butter and canned Sweetheart puds for weeks beforehand, and the parents’ dodgy French when asking the chap at the petrol station to “fill her up.”

Whether you were in a caravan or a VW dormobile, it felt bold and a little bit risky. It was a bit of a rarity to see another GB car – you waved or flashed your headlights. Travelling abroad with an EV is a bit like that today. When we see another i3, or even a Leaf or a Zoe, we smile. And we love the sense of jeopardy as we rock up at a charge post with little idea whether it's going to cooperate or mystify us. You wouldn't find us dead in a caravan these days (well, maybe one of those very posh motor homes with electricity and proper plumbing). But we're finding our i3 has a bit of the same joie de vivre and sometime silliness. Back to the future. And onwards to the past.

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