It’s that time of the year when planning surfaces, “Where can I take my Tesla (S / X) for vacation time?”. From my experience? Anywhere. Some places might take a bit of planning, but not too much. Taking the Tesla to Portugal is getting easier each passing day. I wrote a series of posts, from 1 to 6, detailing the info. What I wrote is from my own experience. It works.
The local charging network, even without superchargers for now, works fine with Tesla cars and the chademo adapter: Portugal has now a North to South 50 kW fast charging coverage, spaced between 40 to 100 km; paired with the electromaps App, this network is very Tesla usable.
If you just want to use superchargers obviously they aren’t here yet, this is not yet your territory to be explored. If you are used to connect your chademo adaptor, here you’ll find fast chargers very happy to charge you. Bon voyage!
Disclaimer: this post was originally written before the permit issued and actual work started in Tordesillas; and also before the new permit for Manzanares was issued. If the time that the Burgos Superchargers took to be available is put into the equation, all of the following text still makes sense 🙂
Since 2014 that the superchargers have been promised, planned, advertised. Tesla dixit. “Winter of 2014”, they said. That 2014 winter is gone. Likewise 2015 and 2016. And today? Still a promise, for soon. When will it be?
If you look to the current installed working superchargers you clearly see a wall in Spain: draw a vertical line starting in Burgos. To the left the desert. To the right plenty of superchargers, more than double the initial plans.
Is Spain blocking Tesla drivers to arrive to Portugal? This geometry is pretty clear, it shows easy access to the south of Spain. Tesla drivers wanting to come to Portugal have to invest in planning and know about the easy way to arrive here: the Salamanca corridor. Stop at Parador de Salamanca for a charge boost with their 22 kW Destination Chargers, more than enough to arrive to Covilhã.
Locally you will be very OK with the Mobi.e card. Go to the site, key in your name, email & password to create an account (don’t loose it). Add your phone and address. In ten days you should receive your card. Others have it already. Use electromaps App to navigate the local 50 kW fast chargers and other sources. You can drive your Tesla here.
Browsing the plugs’ web you might find some dealers chargers, a blessing when the resources are scarce.
In the past, Spain could only be traversed with the help of some of these charging points. But Tesla evolved from that cute “new kid in town” to the serious contender allover the place and businesses: Tesla the menace.
Even if in Portugal it’s the same Mobi.e card that operates these chargers, the ownership of these chargers are theirs, the dealers. If some exceptions would still allow Tesla owners to charge, as time passes by and Tesla is a serious contender less and less dealers are willing to let you use their chargers, and the general attitude is now “No, no more candy for you”.
Phoning in advance might give you another impression: “- Yes, you can charge here, in the store’s opening hours”. And you are filled with joy, and your hope in the human race grows again, to discover, may be too late, that when you arrive he sees the car: “- You didn’t tell me you would be charging a Tesla, no way, and it’s not my problem or fault if you run out of charge”. And there was a three year old child in the back seat of that Tesla. True story.
There are some exceptions. There’s a known dealer that accepts that you charge, Divensa – Badajoz. They bill you 10€, whatever the time you stay there. Be sure that your charging time is within working hours.
With the current network and infrastructure these petty behaviours luckily have almost no impact, you plan with what you have, today more than yesterday, with a bit of planning it is plenty.
Your best companion and info source on where to charge in Portugal, for the Mobi.e network or any other charging point, is a webpage and/or App called electromaps: the local EV community logs there on a regular basis to report on the charging points status. Moreover, recently entry logs by foreigners visiting the country can also be found. This explains the wide variety of comments’ languages: local people tend to write in Portuguese, Spanish people tend to write in Spanish and visitors tend to write in English. Iconic feedback and numeral notations eases the info gathering on power, availability, working status, access and number of charging points.
Different user experiences at the exact same place might result in apparent incoherent information: the data is added by users, it can be right, or wrong because of ignorance, or it can really reflect the user experience. A very recent example: at a very well known place where charge is available at 22 kW 24/7 at a cost of 16€, one user was billed 0€. Different user experiences implies different reports, even for the same place. These differences aren’t the norm but they happen. Generally speaking I find the info to be trustworthy but YMMV, your mileage may vary. A very useful info is the status reports done by users when passing by. It’s a good indication for regularly used spots, not so good when the last entry is 6 months old. I would advise you to add any info on any point you use: everybody wins.
It pays doing the homework at home, prior to departure, may be to trace a main plan A and an hypothetical alternative plan B. It’s not easy to browse the electromaps.com website on your Tesla screen while waiting for the charge to finish somewhere on any of your stops. Practice shows that the electromaps website and the Tesla Web navigator, even in 8.1, do not make a good match for now, navigation is slow. Is it the site? Is it the browser? May be it’s both: doing a simple zoom on the electromaps map isn’t that simple. The App is an altogether different positive experience, it’s very fast and more intuitive.
By default electromaps opens with all options on: from 2 kW to 50 kW. You want to search those more convenient kW chargers, the filter does that for you.
You need to press 4 buttons. Two buttons to start the charging process. Another two buttons to finish the charge. The first two buttons are on the fast charger panel and with them you select CHAdeMO and Start. The other two buttons, one is the Tesla button on the Tesla CHAdeMO adapter, the other is the top button on the CHAdeMO plug (black in the old plugs, white in the new plugs) to disconnect it from the Tesla adapter. And you are good to go. You don’t even have the language barrier as a barrier per se, this step by step should be enough.
First things first: this step by step procedure works every single time. It has been working since I’m using my Tesla CHAdeMO adapter with the local CHAdeMO chargers, all of them, the old ones, the new ones, the single charge ones and the ones that provide DC and AC simultaneous charging. The following steps are only for the Tesla CHAdeMO adapter connected to the local fast chargers CHAdeMO connector.
This is a two parts procedure: the hardware part – connecting and disconnecting the plugs -, and the software part – selecting the charge. The hardware action happens in the beginning – connecting the car -, and in the end, releasing the car. The software action happens in the middle, initiating the charging process.
Start by connecting the charger CHAdeMO plug to your Tesla CHAdeMO adapter. Confirm that it is really connected and it doesn’t desingage.
Connect the Mennekes end of your Tesla CHAdeMO adapter to the car. Your Tesla will lock on the adapter.
With these first two steps you disabled any timeout, once you set the charging the connectors are already in place, and the charger begins its charging process.
Go to the control screen and present the Mobi.e card, it’s enough to old it in place until the charger starts to validate it.
The screen now shows the three choice possibilities, press the top right button for CHAdeMO. This is your first button to press.
The screen now shows another menu, just press again the top right button that says “Iniciar”, and the charger should start almost immediately charging. This is your second button to press.
If the charger is not capable of simultaneous charging it will show all the time you are there the info on the charge: the elapsed time (mm:ss), the energy used (kW) and your battery level (%). If it’s a simultaneous enabled DC / AC charger it will present again the login screen so that someone else can use the Mennekes AC 43 kW plug.
Charging time: it should be around 30 minutes. If no one else arrives during your 30 minutes you can go on with your charging needs. Out of courtesy and respect for the other users, after the 30 minutes if someone arrives and if she/he needs the CHAdeMO plug, politeness dictates that you should provide it.
It goes without saying that you are free to walk away for the first 30 minutes, after that a “stay nearby the car” policy should be observed, in case someone in desperate need arrives.
Ending your charging session is as simple as pressing a button: press the Tesla button on your Tesla CHAdeMO adapter, and keep it pressed until you hear that the car released your connector. This is your third button to press.
With the button still pressed pull your Tesla CHAdeMO adapter from the car. Press the black button (older CHAdeMO plugs) or latch the white button (newer CHAdeMO plugs) and MAKE SURE you keep a firm control of the CHAdeMO plug, don’t let it hit the ground. This is your forth button to press.
Tuck away your Tesla CHAdeMO adapter. Correctly place the CHAdeMO plug in its resting socket. Et bon voyage! It was a pleasure charging your Tesla 😉
For your convenience some photos illustrate the charging steps.
Edit: with the full post already written twice, WordPress crashed for the 2nd time… Several photos and their descriptions are gone. I’m a bit tired, really. I’ll catch with you later. … … … So this is later:
The “standard” charging method is with Mobi.e charging points: one card charges everywhere. This is the theory. In the real world: Mobi.e is still in its pilot phase. First: it’s still free. Second: the majority of the charging points lack maintenance. Third: the reality is changing, as we speak, for the better.
Lately new 50 kW Mobi.e chargers have been installed all over Portugal. This is great news. All are compatible with the Tesla CHAdeMO adapter, you get 250 km/h charging rate, free for now. You can go from the North to the Algarve and at any given 50 to 100 km (region dependent) you can access a Mobi.e 50 kW charger, even some lidl supermarkets have them. The bad news: some of these new installations (not even 1 month old) already have maintenance issues. Not all, but some. Also good news: the majority of the new ones enable simultaneous charging DC vs AC. If a CHAdeMO or CCS is busy, one can use the Mennekes 43 kW, paired with the 22 kW dual charger it’s a blessing.
Apart from the 50 kW chargers, Mobi.e also provides access to 16 A or 32 A single phase, or to 32 A three phase (3.7 kW, 7 kW or 22 kW) Mennekes. From these the 22 kW are most appreciated, unfortunately they are not the majority. This is also changing, being updated and upgraded, but not fast enough. The lack of thinking with the future in mind made that the majority of the Mennekes chargers installed in the beginning are 16 A single phase, and with time most of them are vandalized or inoperative for lack of maintenance. Being free has its price. Again, with the pilot phase beginning to phase out (in a not known so ever eternal near future), officials state there will be updates and proper maintenance.
Apart from the almost omnipresence of the Mobi.e network, some shops, restaurants and shopping malls provide different plugs where to connect your AC charger: Schuko plugs, 5 pin red 11 kW, 5 pin red 22 kW. Also popular are the blue plugs 3 pin single phase 16 A 3.7 kW (some more rarely also have the 4 pin red 11 kW plug).
A vividly boosting happy reality is the Tesla Destination Chargers: it starts to take form and it’s invading the charging network landscape, with its 11 kW and 22 kW variants. Hotels, resorts and private businesses are embracing it.
Superchargers? Not yet. Promised since 2015, almost there in 2016, not yet as we speak. Burgos is the nearest one from the North. Eventually they will sprout locally.
The best information source for the charging points is electromaps.com or its sibling App. Don’t forget to apply a convenient filter to get the kW source you are looking for, or you’ll be visually invaded with painfully slow 2.3 kW or 3 kW plugs.
Thinking to stay at a hotel or at a Pousada? Investigate first if they provide charging. Phone in advance, ask to speak to the Manager or the Maintenance guy. And think big: if they offer you a Schuko ask if they have a swimming pool. Those water pumps for cleaning and filtering do need three phase 16 A 11 kW at least! Make them deserve your reservation and money. Ask. Think big.