Easily drive your Tesla/Leaf/Prius/Zoe/i3 EV to the slopes
Whether you want to ski as squeaky-green as possible, wonder how EV wheels might fare on an alpine road trip or have simply become too tied to your Tesla to leave it behind for the week – this is your guide to achieving a zero-carbon drive to the Alps that goes without a glitch.
We SNO our stuff – with many drives to the mountains under our (seat)belts and a geeky obsession with all things EV. Driving to a ski resort is no nip to the nearest Waitrose and might be the longest stretch you’ve done. Be that as it may, it’s surprisingly easy to do in an electric vehicle.
For earth-loving skiers, the Eurotunnel is considered the most eco-friendly way to reach France – using electric locomotives to minimise pollution and openly publishing its impressively low carbon emissions. Choose this for your channel crossing and together with your electric car you’re looking at a gloriously green way to reach the alps. For more ways to ski sustainably, see our page on Eco Ski Holidays.
Set off to Folkestone with your car fully charged and pre-warmed – you may or may not need to top up en-route depending on where you’re based, but once you reach the Eurotunnel terminal, there are free rapid chargers on hand near the Charles Dickens building that you can use before entering the shuttle. If you’re tight for time, you’ll find more chargers on the other side by the Victor Hugo terminal building and the map of Calais lights up like a Christmas tree if you search for further stations. Make sure to check the latest status of chargers before you hit the road.
French service stations have come a long way in the past decade or so, often with nice bakeries serving fresh croissants and coffee, playrooms for sprogs and shops to peruse. EV charging is cropping up more and more – as always use your preferred app to check the live status of chargers but we’ve previously found Tesla superchargers each at:
Aire de Reims-Champagne-Sud
Aire de Châteauvillain - Val Marnay
Aire du Poulet de Bresse
And Shell Recharge facilities at Shell St Hilaire and Shell Sompuis A26. If you don’t need a Tesla-specific charger, there are hundreds more stations, but of course the charging times are longer so you may need to plan a longer break or meal while you wait.
Electric cars can have a shorter range in the very coldest conditions, in a similar way as petrol/diesel vehicles become less efficient in cold climates. The smartest EVs like Tesla have range-extending modes, which will limit things like heating and instead use the heated seats to keep you comfortable. Remember to set your car to take 100% charge with enough hours before setting off to fill it up – to make the battery last longer, the car will often only be set to max 80% charge for normal day to day, so you need to let the car know you’re going on a long trip and will need a full “tank” of electricity. Many Tesla owners change their charge limit to 100% the night before leaving home, and leave it on this for the whole trip, so that each charge-stop gives them the best possible range.
As well as having your motor fully charged before you set off, get the battery preconditioned and interior heated while it’s still plugged in, to maximise range. The usual fuel saving driving tips apply to EVs as well as ICE cars, so driving with windows or sunroof open or air-conditioning on, will take you less distance between fill-ups. Driving at night is usually much more efficient because you don’t need cooling inside, but mainly there is much less stop-start traffic.
Usual winter driving rules apply: getting winter tyres, making sure they’re well pumped and/or investing in snow chains. Opting for a springtime trip can help reduce winter driving stresses, as the warmer weather makes the roads less risky. With so many charge points en-route as well as in resorts, running low is rarely a worry. However for optimum winter driving EV efficiency, tips include setting your vehicle’s regenerative braking (aka regen) to maximum, heating seats and steering wheel instead of the whole car and avoiding using the app when your car’s in sleep mode. You can read more self-drive ski holiday advice on our driving to the Alps page.
Hundreds of ski hotels are kitted out with chargers for Tesla and/or other electric vehicles – and the number grows every time we check. Staying in one gives you free charge on tap, whenever you need it. No having to sit around in a car park or service station necessary - let it get to work while you enjoy the comforts of your lodging. Use the search panel at the top of this page to find accommodation with EV charging that suits your travel dates and preferences or see our list of the best Eco Ski Hotels for the cream of the crop. Get us to double check that charging continues to be offered when you book.
Some resorts have their own electric vehicle chargers, and again this is on the increase. Last time we checked, Les Gets had two at the Télécabine du Mont-Chéry – one for all vehicles (11KW AC-TRI) and the other for Tesla (11KW AC-TRI). They’ve also been known to offer ski pass discounts when you show your reg document… Arosa has charging at the Brüggli underground carpark and in Flaine there are SYANE public charge points at the entrance to Forum. Tignes has 3 in Parking du Lac and Chamonix at its Saint Michel, Mont Blanc, Entrèves, Corzolet and Allobroges car parks. Ski resorts/towns with Tesla superchargers include St Moritz, Kitzbühel, St Anton, Innsbruck, Whistler and Aspen, with Cortina and Bardonecchia soon to join the party.
If you haven’t already, double check the charging capabilities of your car before setting off – with enough time to get hold of the necessary adapters if need be. Last time we checked, it was handy to have the following connecters for these countries:
Type 3C cable
Tesla adapter for domestic sockets in France
Schuko inversion adaptor
Type 2 cable
Tesla adaptor for Italian domestic sockets
Type 2 cable
Reversing lead for Schuko domestic sockets
Tesla adaptor for Swiss domestic sockets
Type 2 cable
We keep this page updated as much as possible but it’s always a good idea to check the official guidelines for your car make. For Tesla drivers, the company’s connectors page is invaluable.
While you can get around most of the UK road network with nothing more than the Ecotricity app on your phone, driving on the continent is helped by membership of the most common charging networks over there. Generally speaking, you’ll need to login using an app, key-fob or RFID card so, for seamless access to motorway and service station charging on your journey, definitely get organised long before you travel and register with these providers ahead of time. Choose which networks to join depending on which country you’re going to drive through.
EV charging networks in France include:
Kiwhi Pass Card (for Type 2, Type 3, Combo/CSS, CHAdeMO & domestic chargers)
EV charging networks in Italy include the Gruppo Hera Network (for Type 2, Type 3a, Schuko, CHAdeMO & Combo/CSS chargers)
EV charging networks in Austria include:
SMATRICS (for CHEdeMo, Type 2 & Combo/CSS chargers)
EV charging networks in Switzerland include:
EVPASS (for Type 2, CHAdeMO, Combo CCS & domestic chargers)
In a few cases, the application system isn’t set up for entering a UK delivery address. If you don’t know someone who’s address you can use in that country, we’ve heard some have wangled it by entering the network’s HQ as the address, then emailing the company their UK delivery address. You can contact the network directly for assistance.
Multinational EV charging networks
PlugSurfing (UK, France, Germany, Austria, Italy and more) – for CHEdeMO, Type 2, Combo/CSS chargers
Chargemap (UK, France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy and more) – for Type 2 (incl. cable attached), Type 3a, Combo/CSS, Italian & EU domestic chargers
New Motion (UK, France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy and more) – for Type 2 (incl. cable attached) – for CHAdeMo, Combo/CSS, Type 1, Type 2, Type 3 & domestic chargers
As you can see, the Plug Surfing, Chargemap Pass and New Motion memberships would cover you for lots of EV driving in Europe if you join all three, and you might get away without even these if you’re in a Tesla and check that the key Superchargers on your route are up and running. If you pick a ski hotel with destination charger, there’s a good chance you can plan a route that avoids the need for a foreign charging membership.
You’ll want to get your head around your route to the alps whichever type of wheels you’re behind - even more so if you need to factor in stops where you can charge as well as grab a good coffee and stretch your legs.
It’s worth having a couple of back-up stops lined up in case you can’t access the chargers at your preferred points. Plugshare’s trip planner lets you map your route to resort and flags up the nearest charging stations along the way. If you’re driving a Tesla, their nifty route planning tool does the same thing.
We used this to plan a trip from SNO HQ in Putney to Chamonix, France. It required just 3 stops, though we found we could have driven a tad faster having plugged in at the Channel Tunnel while waiting to board - the Aire d’Urvilliers 65-minute charge would’ve come down a lot too, so each stop would have been just 30-40 minutes. For this journey, the estimated fuel saving was a whopping £183 (or over £200 if you normally drive fast on the motorway). Of course, if you get some or all of the supercharging for free, the savings are even better!
|Hotel Kulm||5||St Moritz||Switzerland|
|Hotel Le Kaila||5||Meribel||France|
|Hotel Taj-I Mah||5||Les Arcs||France|
|Hotel Koh-I Nor||5||Val Thorens||France|
|Rocky Pop Hotel||3||Chamonix||France|
|Hotel Alpine Palace||5||Hinterglemm||Austria|
|Hotel Altapura||5||Val Thorens||France|
|Hotel Aigle Des Neiges||4||Val d’Isere||France|
|Hotel Col Alto||4||Corvara||Italy|
|Hotel Grand||5||Zell am See||Austria|
|Hotel Les Champs Fleuris||4||Morzine||France|
|Hotel Pic Blanc||4||Alpe d’Huez||France|
|Hotel Schwarzer Adler||4s||Kitzbühel||Austria|
|Hotel Trattlerhof||4||Bad Kleinkirchheim||Austria|
|Hotel Lac Salin||4s||Livigno||Italy|
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