Less than a week, and we decided to do the first road trip with the car. From our home in Northeast Switzerland, down to Poschiavo in Graubünden.
210 km, through the mountains, it takes about 4 hours each way (we took the scenic route). The app A Better Route Planner insisted we charged at least once, on the way. And so we did, made a stop in a small mountain village where there was a charger. Actually, there are quite a lot of charging options in Switzerland, both the slower AC chargers as well as the faster CCS DC charging.
We ended up only using about 75% battery each way - quite a pleasant surprise! As I shall describe later, it’s quite easy to get the 257 km WLTP range (and much more!), as long as it’s summer and one stays away from the highways. We could do up to 400 km on one charge, if really needed, under the right conditions.
The car was still new to us, and we found out many things as we went. But this car loves the mountains! It’s near perfect for those small winding roads. The “recouperation” as VW calls “regen” (Tesla terminology), makes it so pleasant to drive in the mountains. I know this is a general EV property, but having had a Tesla Model S for 5 years, we were quite surprised how well this car was balanced. A few flaws as I shall describe in a later post, but overall - very well designed.
I haven’t yet figured out how to limit the charging of this car. For scheduled charging, once can set different levels, but it's a bit complicated. The same for scheduled charging. Some day I will take the time to test it, to figure out the "logic". The Tesla is really easy: Click the charging icon, and select where you want the charging to stop. Click the time you want to leave, and it does it. Or even let your calendar tell the car when to charge. Done. Not so easy for the VW Triplets. And why does it matter? Well, charging to only 90% can be very useful ... because ...
Staying a few days in Poschiavo in the lovely Croce Bianca hotel, the following morning we wanted to drive to Campocologne. The car was still quite new for us, but we had already passed the alps, and had tried a lot of steep downhills. From Poschiavo to Campocologne, is another steep slope. So steep, the Rhätische Bahn train at some stage has a 360 degree ”spiral viaduct to limit the descent: The train makes a full circle before continuing on.
This is where I had a Stupido moment. My son especially liked it when I called myself stupido, in a very strong attempted Italian accent. I was thinking this downhill was so steep, the recuperation couldn’t even keep the car slowed down to below the speed limit (shifting between 50 and 80 on this stretch). Then it dawned on me: We had charged at the hotel, and since the battery was now nearly full, there wasn’t much the battery could absorb. Stupido! In a Tesla, the default charging level is 90%, while the VW cars assume you want 100% every time.
Later, I should find via the ODB2 dongle, that the internal calculated State-of Charge doesn’t follow the level shown in the car, and the Skoda Connect app. More about that later. But yes, if you live in a higher elevation, it’s worth considering to NOT charge an electric vehicle to full charge. Remember that without battery regen (recouperation), there isn’t anything else than the normal brake to slow the car down, on the steep downhills. Read on for more about this car.
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