|2017-01-13 04:24:21 K moři do Chorvatska|
How to Travel Through Croatia on Batteries, By Sasa Cvetojevic, 02 Feb 2016
Here's how to get from point A to point B in Croatia if you own an electric car.
Many electric car owners from the EU came to the Adriatic last year using their vehicles. In most cases, their choice car was Tesla S which can cross 400 km on a single charge. However, until recently, crossing Croatia on batteries was more of an adventure than a holiday, because the charging station infrastructure was virtually non-existent.
As an owner of an electric car, all you could rely on were a few charging stations, mostly AC, the help of local electric car owners and a few restaurateurs and hoteliers that were among the first to recognize this service for its potential to attract new guests.
The situation was by far the worst in Dalmatia, end destination for most motorized tourists. Istria had several chargers; most were set up by enthusiastic individuals such as Igor Kolovrat, organizer of the Nikola Tesla Rally along with a few people in local communities. However, if you wanted to go to Split or Dubrovnik, that was a serious undertaking which required a lot of preparation and careful planning in order to find the exact locations of hotels and companies where you would be able to charge your cars.
Fear not, the situation is changing. Slowly, just like everything else in Croatia that requires cooperation with State and local authorities or monopoly holders owned by the first two – in this case, State electric company HEP, but positive movement can already be seen. First of several big players that were not present in the power distribution field last year, such as Croatian Telecom, started building its own charging station network. Telecoms are good at recognizing trends, so we can expect their network to grow by the beginning of the next tourist season.
As with everything else connected to technology, north-west Croatia is leading the way. Zagreb already has a good network of AC chargers, most city garages have one, and shopping centres have started to install them (City Center One, IKEA). Croatia’s largest retail chain - Konzum also jumped on the bandwagon recently by installing an AC charger in front of its flagship store in Zagreb located in Vukovarska ulica. Konzum management confirmed they will install chargers in a few more locations, providing their customers with an additional service.
However, one thing e-mobile travellers are missing the most is DC fast charge stations on main roads and highways. AC chargers are mostly sources of alternating current of higher power and they have the additional electronic equipment to communicate with chargers in each car to convert AC to DC which is then stored in the battery. Most often they have the charging current of up to 22kW and are considered destination chargers. They prevail in cities, where the car owner will spend at least a few hours because charging in these charging stations will last anything from 1 to 4 hours, depending on the capacity of your battery. DC charge stations are the “real chargers” because they deliver DC power straight to your car battery. Their charging current is often over 50 kW while Tesla Superchargers go over 120 kW. Such fast chargers are ideal for short stopovers along main roads where you can charge your battery enough to continue your travels in the time it takes you to have a cup of coffee.
The ice was broken with the installation of the very first Tesla Supercharger in Senj, right by the sea. This location is one of 5 in Croatia where Tesla motors intend to install its superchargers in 2016.
HEP has been implementing its ELEN project for a while, and it includes the installation of DC fast charge stations along the main roads and highways but so far they haven’t exactly shown any speed or efficiency. Having just a few of those fast charging stations along the main highways towards the coast and towards Serbia would enable electric car owners safe and worry free travel across Croatia, even if their cars only have a 100 – 200 km single charge reach.
Additional problems are now caused by the parallel development of several different charging systems that require RFID cards in order to confirm your ID and start the charging process. However, most charging stations are free (shopping centres, parking lots, Konzum) and you can pick up your card on info stands. To obtain your RFID card to use any charging station within the Croatian Telecom system, all you need to do is send an e-mail to email@example.com
In the next few years, it is realistic to expect some sort of roaming option, so travellers passing through the country can use charging stations even without a contract or an RFID card for any particular provider. Furthermore, some new charger models already offer an option to pay with your credit card or via SMS. For now, if you are heading to Croatia, you can find all relevant information about charging stations and their locations on www.plugshare.com or www.puni.hr .
Once you reach your final destination, you will be able to charge your batteries in various hotels, apartments or campsites. Moreover, if you get stuck, you can also use many marinas since most of them have plugs of appropriate voltage. Croatians are great hosts and you definitely won’t run out of power. All you have to do is explain to the restaurant owner anywhere along the coast that you need a plug. Charging your car using a plug is much slower, but that option will enable you to savour local gastro delicacies offered by various restaurants along the main roads and highways while your car is charging.
If you’re an e-mobility aficionado, especially if you are a proud owner of a Tesla vehicle, one of the places you definitely shouldn’t miss is Smiljan, the birthplace of Nikola Tesla. If you’re heading towards Dalmatia, it will only be a 20 km derailment from your original journey. There is a very interesting memorial centre in Smiljan, Nikola Tesla’s birth house and a replica of his laboratory where you can and see and feel many of his inventions.
While you’re sightseeing, you can recharge your battery, a charger is installed within the grounds of the memorial centre.
For more information about the museum visit its official Website, unfortunately, only in Croatian. Museum is not privately owned, it is run by the local self- governing authority so it’s no surprise the website is not available in English. Some people, especially if their paycheck does not depend on the number of museum visitors and tickets sold, still cannot comprehend that all websites that might be of interest to tourists, and this museum is certainly one of them, should be available in several languages. But, they’re learning. In about 10 years, when even the state-owned HEP finally completes its charging station plan, this website will be available in English. If we’re lucky, they might even add a German version. Until then, you can somewhat rely on Google translate, and if you have any doubts when it comes to reaching your final destination in Croatia or the region (oops, sorry the proper term is neighborhood now) using electric cars, feel free to contact me via my Facebook profile or twitter account.
Safe travels and plenty of power in your batteries!