One would think that Mediterranean islands are a great spot for electric mobility. Reasonable distances and a mild climate are the ideal conditions under which EVs can flourish. Or at least in theory. Real-life experience taught electrive Editor-in-Chief Peter Schwierz otherwise. He finds: isolated applications are never a good idea.
A package holiday during winter break – due to Mallorca’s mild winter weather, we thought it was the way to go. 20 degrees and sun were the perfect bait. But we did not want to stay in the touristy areas on the southern or eastern parts of the Spanish island and opted for a small hotel in Port d’Andratx in the South-West. It became very clear very quickly that if we wanted to see other parts of Mallorca, we needed to hire a car. An all-electric one if possible.
ELECTRIC CARS ON MALLORCA
A quick Google search showed that electric mobility is definitely not a foreign concept there. Car hiring companies offer EVs, state funding is used to further uptake and development, and there are even six well-placed Endesa rapid-chargers on Mallorca. We went with Sixt, where we could choose between a BMW i3 and a Nissan Leaf. We chose the latter. Further research had shown that the rapid-chargers are reserved for Endesa’s ECAR-Club members, but we thought, we’d surely be able to plug in somewhere. After all, roaming is not a foreign concept either, and if all else fails, a Schuko socket will do the trick. How very naive of us.
SEARCHING FOR JUICE
Let’s start at the beginning: On Monday morning, there was a sparkling Nissan Leaf parked in front of the hotel. It would be ours until Friday. The delivery guy showed me where all the cables were and the most important buttons. Thank God I am already familiar with the world’s most sold electric car, since I don’t speak Spanish and he spoke barely any English. And anyways, the real briefing was done by his colleagues at the airport in Palma – over the phone. At that point, we encountered the first major issue: there was no charge card for the rapid-chargers on Mallorca on board. The Sixt-team reassured me that there are enough other places where I can charge for free and without a card. My German iPhone app didn’t seem to agree. Even The New Motion app showed barely any free chargers on the island. So Sixt sent me a link to the Spanish directory, which really did show enough charging spots. We were in cheerful spirits!
We started out the week with a remaining range of 95 km. The driver had used the rest to get to us from Palma. But we only wanted to go to the beach in the next town. The 17 km across the hills there and back didn’t bother the Leaf. We still had 86 km left. The hotel staff was quite interested in the electric car, but an outlet or a charging station in Port d’Andratx was nowhere to be found. Even our search for a makeshift solution at the harbour turned up empty -and that although there are chargers for all those yachts and excursion boats at every berth. But we wouldn’t be deterred.
On Tuesday, we headed to another town on the south side. But there, too, we couldn’t find a place to plug in our rental EV. A hotel that according to the local registry offers its guests to charge at an outdoor socket was barricaded. Ok, we thought, we will check out the fast-charger tomorrow on our way to Palma – even though we don’t have a charge card.
YEARNING FOR DC-POWER
But we were disappointed: the rapid-charger in Palmanova was free and offered 50 kW DC power for CCS and CHAdeMO standards, as well as 43 kW AC charging for Type 2 connectors – but not without the proper charge card. We tried the German cards that we have on us and the generally very useful keyfob from PlugSurfing. Nothing worked. We were an “unauthorized user,” the station told us over and over again. We called Endesa’s hotline, but even the friendly employee on the other end couldn’t help us. No card, no charge. And the former you only get when you pay the 39 euros to join the ECAR-Club, which has to be done a service centre in Palma. No roaming, no activating the charger from a distance as many of the operators in Germany can do. Even the people at the petrol station itself were unable to help us. No one had a charge card for “emergencies.” We’d expected at least that. Feeling somewhere between sad and angry, we looked at the sticker that advocates EU sponsorship. That’s money down the drain…
We therefore continued without any fresh juice on the motorway to Palma. There is a ChargeNow station at the yacht club that also offer CCS, CHAdeMO, and Type 2 charging – plus, it would surely have a great view onto the water. On one sat (and charged?) a BMW i3. The other side was ICEd. We again tried all our German cards and the PlugSurfing keyfob, but the charger remained off limits. We asked at the Real Club Náutico de Palma if someone could move the i3 and if we could use the fast-charger – just for 10 minutes. We didn’t get any sympathy, just a “it’s for club members only.” We left.
A PETROL-CAR TO THE RESCUE
My family was beginning to have enough. Instead of looking for an outlet, they’d rather enjoy their holiday. So I dropped them off at the aquarium in Palma and drove to the Sixt headquarters at the airport. They have a wallbox, which I was allowed to use. A few employees came and listened to my recent adventure. It became clear: they are still experimenting with electric mobility on Mallorca. Whey they don’t have a charge card for the Endesa stations? The team said there will be a meeting with the provider soon, but that is not easy to portray the 6 euros that Endesa wants per charging process in the hiring portal. But, they say, the problem will be fixed before the main season. I could’t wait that long, however, and really didn’t want to have to hunt for another chargers while on holiday. Heavy heartedly, I returned the Nissan Leaf and continued my journey in an Opel Corsa. Now, I was guaranteed unlimited mobility for the rest of my stay. Hopefully an EV can promise as much during my next trip there. Until then, I hope all those responsible for charging infrastructure on Mallorca and the main land learn from the moral of the story: an isolated application is never the right way to go.
Text: Peter Schwierz
Translation: Carla Westerheide
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