AOL Cars drives Tesla Model S from UK to Norway: Day two
Blackball Media / Jonathan Fleetwood
Despite concerns over whether the electric Model S could make it across Europe with sustenance only from Tesla's Superchargers, we made it to Dusseldorf at the end day one without incident – though we did lose around two hours waiting for the car to recharge at three different chargers on the way. However, a much bigger challenge faced our Model S on day two – Germany's derestricted autobahns.
Before we could hit the autobahn, though, food was the first order of the morning. Becca and Johnny went out searching for sustenance for us, discovering again that MasterCard wasn't as widely accepted as we thought on the continent. Setting off an hour later, we skirted through the Dusseldorf suburbs. One wrong turn later, however, and we were in the middle of an orange-hued forest – photography nirvana for snapper Johnny. Itching to try out our all-electric machine on the smooth roads around Dusseldorf we soon headed for the open road, though.
While German motorists' autobahn machines of choice usually come from one of the country's three mighty brands – Audi, BMW and Mercedes – and often pack an oversized turbocharged diesel motor under the bonnet, all we had to take on Germany's any-speed-goes highways was a overnight bag-sized electric motor nestling between the rear wheels.
We needn't have worried though. The power coursing through the rear wheels, which had made traction hard to find in the UK, also meant that we had more than enough muscle to outpace most locals on the derestricted strips of Tarmac. With traffic-heavy roads outside of Dusseldorf, this wasn't going to be an opportunity for a top speed run, however. We did make it close to the 100mph mark pretty easily, though, with the instant power from the electric motor and regenerative braking when you lift off the throttle – meaning that the car slows by itself to add charge back to the batteries – making the outside lane of the autobahn the natural home for our Model S.
124 miles after our last charge in the Netherlands we arrived at the Kamen Supercharger, eagerly anticipating being able to hit the outside lane again with a full charge. Parking alongside another Tesla we headed off for a McDonald's and tested out the Model S's phone app, which lets you keep track of charging without having to keep wandering across to the car park – a real boon when it's freezing outside – and when the car is a long walk away.
AOL Cars drives Tesla Model S across Europe
AOL Cars drives Tesla Model S from UK to Norway: Day two
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Returning to the autobahn with fully juiced-up batteries, the roads steadily cleared, letting us up the speed bit by bit. Soon we'd soared past 100mph and reaching an open stretch I mashed the throttle into the carpet. 200kph (125mph) soon popped up on the speedo with our bright white Tesla sat in an outside lane Audi sandwich.
Lesser machines venturing into the fast lane stopped us from going faster and I resorted to testing out the adaptive cruise control instead, which maintains a safe distance behind the car in front. Here the fact that Tesla is a much newer car company than Audi BMW and Mercedes became evident, though, as the indecisive cruise control made progress jerky, with the car alternating between jamming on the brakes as cars slowed in front and mashing the throttle in steps as they moved out the way. Reaching a clear spot on the autobahn I gripped the wheel harder, cancelled the cruise control and once again buried the throttle into the carpet.
Passing the 200kph (125mph) mark again progress slowed, with the car fighting hard to gain each extra kph. Despite the car's reluctance, we did make it up to an indicated 215kph (134mph), besting the car's claimed top speed of 130mph. Success. All the high speeds did take their toll on our range, though - with the car telling us to slow down to avoid running out of charge before our destination - and after just 98 miles we pulled up at the Lauenau Supercharger, with just 72 miles of charge left (meaning that we'd lost 151 miles of the car's 249-mile onscreen range that we'd started with). This did give us the chance to explore the unfathomably Spanish-themed Lauenau service station and watch one of the locals chugging down on a beer while playing on two fruit machines simultaneously.
With our overnight spot just south of the German-Danish border 54 miles down the autobahn we stopped for a brief charge in Bad Fallingbostel – the first charger where there were no other Tesla's charging when we arrived. However, as though to prove that all of the Superchargers we visited do get used, another Model S pulled in as we were leaving. Fully charged again we left the windswept car park where this charger was located and hit the autobahn again, skirting around the ports of Hamburg. Confidence growing in the car's real world range we skipped the Hamburg Supercharger, stopping instead at Busdorf 134 miles later for a half-hour charge, with passing motorists ogling the sleek shape of the Model S.
Arriving at the pretty little town of Eggebek, where we were staying, we soon found that credit cards were something of a mystery to the owner of the little chalet we'd rented for the night. Unfazed, however, he drove us a mile down the road to the bank, where he swiped his card, entered a code and ushered us inside like he owned the town. Now armed with cash we headed home for the night, a remote chalet sat behind a row of houses and drenched in the smell of...natural fertiliser, shall we say.
Germany complete, the next step on our journey is Denmark – our introduction to Scandinavia – a land which has fully embraced the charms of the Model S. Take a look at our high speed antics in the video below (with obligatory naff road trip music).
Read about the first instalment of our trip here.