THE ROAD(STER) TO FULLY CHARGED LIVE

Fully Charged Live rocked Silverstone’s socks last weekend and I had a really incredible time seeing all the EV things and meeting all the EV people. It’s amazing what a huge, supportive family the EV community is.

Huge congratulations are in order to the team for nailing their first event and surpassing all expectations.

If you were there, you might have noticed there was a sneaky Belgian-plated Tesla Roadster hanging out with the Tesla Owners Group UK people. It came over to the event with me last week for my first experience of taking the Roadster across the channel.

Roadster 1

Considered the “Unicorn***” of electric cars, the Roadster is a special piece of EV history, being the car that financed Tesla to the company it is today, as well as the first ever all-electric production car to run on Lithium Ion cells and travel more than 320km range in a single charge.

***Because you rarely, if ever, see them out in the wild.

If you follow me regularly, you’ll know I am not shy of doing very, very long journeys in EVs and the journey across the channel is a regular commute for me. Despite this, I was a little nervous doing it in the roadster, considering the HPC roadster fast chargers were all ripped out long ago.

Basically, this journey would depend on getting all the way from Limburg in Belgium via a top up charge in Brugge, to Ashford in Kent, where the first UK HPC charger was on the route.

I was going to need to drive incredibly economically…

…That was, until something incredible happened: A Type-2 adaptor.

Tesla Adaptor

Roadster 2
The Roadster Holy Grail: The Type-2 Adaptor

The Roadster has this strange (but wonderful) old-tech meets new-tech vibe. If you’ve ever driven an Elise, it’s a strange sensation to then drive the much heavier roadster. On the inside, the car feels very low-tech if you are used to, well, any other EV that has come onto the market since. It has a lot of buttons and dials, where the Type S has none, and only a very small infotainment screen with a hidden CD player behind it. I listened to a collection of my old Slipknot and Porcupine Tree CDs on the route in case you were wondering.

The USB connection for music has a connector attached that fits the iPod I had 10 years ago. It is equipped with a Momo steering wheel, has no power steering, and… get this… the key isn’t even contactless.

Roadster 3

I might add that all of this actually adds to the charm of the Roadster. Especially the lack of power steering. I have a hatred of overly assisted steering that I mention in just about every car-related article I write, so bring on the arm workout. However, I have to admit this slightly out of date interior tech lulls you into the worrying feeling that this car won’t make the range of more recent cars. Especially as the moment I am due to start my journey, a storm hits with very heavy rain.

But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

I manage to drive across Belgium and part of France all the way to Calais without a charging stop and still a quarter of battery intact. Admittedly, I am a regular EV driver and know how to get the most out of a car, but this is around 400km range (250 miles), which is 100km more range than I was expecting to get in eco driving style.

And this is where the Type-2 adaptor comes into play. Eurotunnel have free charging points at both their Calais and Folkestone terminals, which means while I wait for my train- I’m ridiculously early- I can try to top up as much as possible ready for the UK portion of the journey.

Roadster 4

To charge the Roadster, you open the little door to the charging port and then attach the adaptor. Cables and adaptors on the roadster work a little like a bayonet fitting, where you line up the fixtures, then twist clockwise to lock it in. Some cables then also have a little switch you slide forwards to fully lock in.

There are charge setting modes to select from, with different impact on the long-term battery life: Storage, Standard, Range, Performance.

On the Type-2, it charges at around 100km range per hour.

As no-one else is waiting to charge (besides from the inevitable Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV on the CHAdeMO socket) I manage to get back up to 3/4 battery and 300km range just from the free charging at Le Shuttle, which is more than enough to make the 220km back to my UK destination.

I do actually stop once on the way back in the UK at South Mimms M25 services. Although this is more of a coffee stop for me, I decide to test out the Ecotricity charger for twenty minutes. The Ecotricity app is really not happy with me adding a Roadster to my list of cars on the app, but I persist and set up to charge again using the Type-2 adaptor. I get 6.8kWh and spend £2.04, but importantly, my experiment works and I managed to get a charge through the Electric Highway app.

Roadster 5

At this point, I only have 1 hour more to drive to arrive in Silverstone ready for the event and I manage to get to my destination with 150km range to spare. So that was it for my incredibly painless, and supercool journey to Fully Charged Live.

The next part of the story of course was when I picked up some Fully Charged Live hitchhikers(!!!) on route to Silverstone

Roadster 6

Some general Tesla Roadster observations:

People really want to take their picture with this car. I keep arriving back to impromptu instagram photoshoots at the charging points.

People also keep mistaking the car for a silent Elise and getting really confused, which is fun to watch.

When driving eco-style to preserve range, people seem fairly upset to see a car that looks like the Roadster does hanging out in the same lane as the trucks. I don’t get glares like this in the Model S or i3.

Several men along the trip (all driving ICE) try to explain to me that Tesla superchargers exist. I have to repeatedly explain that I can’t use the Tesla Superchargers to people that don’t even drive electric cars. *Sigh*

Take speed bumps in the Roadster at a pace where the snails on the side of the road are overtaking you or sincerely regret it.

I am fairly tall and probably the height limit for being able to comfortably drive the roadster 600km in one go.

I really really love the Roadster. Sometimes you just click with a car and this is one of those times. It must be that lack of assisted steering…

So what’s next for the Roadster? Well, I’m hoping to drive it on my upcoming adventure next month Charge To The Circle. If you are a company looking to get involved, or would like to brand up one of the cars head over to www.chargetothecircle.com

Then on August 18th, I’ll be participating in the Vitaemobility Tesla Xperience Day on track at Circuit Zolder. If you are a Tesla owner on enthusiast and you want to experience driving on the legendary circuit yourself, you can join too. And if you want to drive over from the UK in a Roadster (or any other Tesla) to join in the event, you’ll know how easily it can be done.

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Roadster in Belgium

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