In August 2015, a pioneering journey was undertaken by three German men – Michael Willberg, Frank Mischkowski and Martin Wrobel – across Europe from Tarifa in Spain to Nordkapp in Norway over a period of 5 days. They set a Guinness World Record for charging time of 19 hours and 58 minutes over a distance of around 4,000 miles in a Tesla Model S 85D. This record stood for almost two years.
A few months later in October 2015 my son, Ben Cottam-Allan, and I – both from the UK – undertook a much shorter journey of about 850 miles in a Model S P85D, from Land’s End tojohn O’Groats and back again. On the return journey we set a Guinness World Record for charging time of 3 hours 44 minutes across Britain and a new electric car record journey time of 18 hours 53 minutes across Britain. This gave us an appetite for an attempt at the cross Europe record. In 2017 we did make an attempt but ours was not the only one. This article describes the
three attempts at the cross Europe record this year and demonstrates the tremendous improvement in Tesla charging infrastructure and Tesla car capability in less than two years.
The first attempt at breaking the cross Europe record was in June 2017. The intention was for four women to attempt to complete the reverse journey from Nordkapp to Tarifa in just 4 days by driving continuously and stopping only for recharging. Their attempt was organised by The CarTell, a young Luxembourgish start-up. Sadly, one of the women, Sandra Heinisch (Luxembourg) could not join the expedition, as she injured herself during training and was unfit to take part. So in the end the three drivers were Marie Guerre (France), Sascha
Bloemhoff (Netherlands) and Paule Kienert (France). They drove a Tesla S P85+.
Marie, Sascha and Paule beat their target of 4 days by 58 minutes, as well as achieving a charging time of 18 hours 22 minutes, thus beating the original Guinness World Record. Their overall consumption rate was 304 watt- hours per mile over the 4,000 miles covered. Marie, Sascha and Paule had an advantage over the conditions Michael, Frank and Martin faced nearly two years earlier – the Tesla Supercharger network had extended to Spain. Unfortunately, two charging stops in Norway still had to be carried out at slower chargers and they needed a CHAdeMO in Malaga, Spain, before reaching Tarifa.
In late July 2017, Ben and I set off on our attempt from Nordkapp to Tarifa in the same Tesla S P85D we had used on the previous Guinness World Record run in the UK nearly two years before. We chose a different strategy to Marie, Sascha and Paule. We decided to drive mainly during the day, rest overnight and drive slowly to reduce overall energy consumption. There were problems with this strategy, not least when charging at the beginning of the day with a cold battery.
This was almost certainly a mistake. The other problem was that we only had 86% charge when we set off from Nordkapp and did not have the confidence to complete the 250 miles to the first Supercharger, so we charged for an hour and a half at a slow charger at a hotel en route. We did, however, manage the final 250 miles from the last Supercharger in Spain to Tarifa. Therefore, apart from the one slow charger in Norway, we used Tesla Superchargers the whole way.
We completed the full 4,000-mile distance in 8 days, with an overall charging time of 13 hours and 7 minutes, which gained us a second Guinness World Record. Our consumption rate was only 247 watthours per mile.
We had the advantage that in the month since the previous attempt, two further Tesla Superchargers had been made live including the one at Sorkjosen, which is over 400 miles above the arctic circle – the most northern Supercharger in the world!
This set the scene for the third and most successful attempt in 2017.
Michael Willberg, Frank Mischkowski and Martin Wrobel sensibly used the largest battery currently available. They drove a Tesla S 100D which has a 100kWh battery. They set off on July 28th, just two days after completing our attempt from Nordkapp. Michael, Frank and Martin drove continuously, stopping only for recharging. They showed great skill in their strategy, charging while the charge rate was high, driving to Superchargers with very low charge at the destination Supercharger and missing out a number of Superchargers that the other teams had used. The overall result was a total journey time of just over 3.5 days and a charging time of only 9 hours 51 minutes and 54 seconds. The consumption rate was 283 Watt-hours per mile. One of their great achievements was that they only used Tesla Superchargers between the Nordkapp start and Tarifa end.
Each team achieved something unique with their attempts: Michael, Frank and Martin set the record in 2015. Marie, Sascha and Paule were the first to drive the furthest distance in an electric car in four days; Myself and Ben achieved the lowest energy consumption; Michael, Frank and Martin then achieved the shortest charge time and shortest journey time. And, of course, all teams experienced an unforgettable extended road trip.
Starting at Nordkapp, the most northerly point in Europe on an island reached from the Norwegian mainland via tunnel. It is over 600 miles within the Arctic Circle, providing an eerie midnight sun in summer. The photos show the globe structure at the visitor centre. The photo of Ben and me is taken outside the visitor centre and marks the start of the route. The road through Norway is a major part of the whole 4,000-mile journey and provides stunning scenery all the way to Sweden. The route takes in much less of Sweden than the lengthy coast of Norway and soon there is another change of country to Denmark, over the famous 0resund bridge that links the two countries. Next, there is a substantial drive through both Germany and France before reaching Spain. The end point is outside the town hall at Tarifa. The substantial difference in temperature between the start and end points in Europe can be clearly seen in the photos.
The most recent record run by Michael, Frank and Martin has demonstrated that this journey from one end of Europe to the other can be undertaken at normal driving speeds using Tesla Superchargers alone. It shows the rapid development of the Tesla Model S and the Europe wide network of Superchargers.