The Promised Supercharger Trip to Rome

Elin and Lasse Karlsen, September 10, 2015

A test of the promise that came from Elon Musk himself: To enable Norwegian Tesla owners to drive to Roma!

We considered buying a Tesla Model S after seeing the amazing car for the first time in Trondheim in July 2013. I then noted Elon Musk mentioning it should be possible to drive a Tesla from Norway all the way to Rome, Italy in the upcoming future. After hearing this, it was the final trigger that convinced me to purchase a Model S.

While searching for a new car, we considered a BMW or Mercedes and test drove several of their models. When we told the salesmen we were considering purchasing a Tesla, they immediately tried to steer us the opposite direction by telling us the car is not yet reliable and has the risks of unproven battery technology. However, we stayed firm and kept our reservation.

Decisive Moment

This year, we took our very first trip to Rome over our summer holiday. Of course, our Model S 85 became our travel partner during this trip.

The Tesla navigation system pointed out several routes from our home city Haugesund, Norway through central Europe and to northern Italy. Down to Rome, however, it looked a bit harder to relay on Tesla’s Superchargers. After some research on Tesla’s Supercharger website, on June 22nd  the final link appeared for a Supercharger in Arezzo, a bit south of Firenze in Italy. At the time it had the notation: Arezzo – “coming soon”. This was exciting new because this was the connection we needed.

We started mapping out our trip. I entered “Rome” into the navigation system and the route showed up nicely from Haugesund to Rome with all the needed charging locations plotted along the way. The Google navigation does not recognize private ferries, so, the first part suggested to drive through Sweden, but we shortened the route by utilizing the ferries from Stavanger in Norway to Hirtshals in Denmark.

Let the Rome Journey Begin

Decision taken, on the evening of June 28th we drove to Stavanger and took the new and environmental LNG ferry to Hirtshals in Denmark. We set our Model S charging limit to 480 km.

First Day on the Continent

We visited Denmark in 2014, so we were familiar with some of the Supercharger Stations already. On our journey towards our destination for the evening, we used the Hjørring Supercharger, and the Aarhus Supercharger which then led us to the Rødekro Supercharger. All of the stations were very easily accessible from the highways. Our next charging stop was in Hamburg, Germany where we used a Destination Charging station provided by the hotel “unter Dem Linden.” Last stop on day one was the Rhüden Supercharger in Germany. This Supercharger was close to the A7 Motorway and a great hotel nearby.

Second Day on the Continent

From Rhüden, there were several options to charge but we decided to push our Model S to go 300 km on the A7 to Gramschatz. On our drive, we had some fun by doing many quick accelerations and some high speed runs with the Model S. The Tesla navigation system warned us kindly that slower speed was necessary if we wanted to reach the Gramschatzh Supercharger with enough charge. Needless to say, we reached the Supercharger Station with more than 80 km left in battery! Next lap was to Aichstetten Supercharger in Germany and then Rivera Supercharger in Switzerland south of the Alps. After charging up, we spent the night in a charming little hotel. We slept well, as our second day on the road was filled with excitement by doing runaway accelerations against both a Porsche Spider and a Ferry 360 Spider. Instant power is fun for grown-ups too, even if it is just for a short while!

Third Day and Moment of Truth

From Rivera we had the option to go directly to Modena, Italy but chose to go by Dorno, south of Milano. Here, we found the largest Supercharger Station outside of Norway, which provided eight charging slots on each side of the motorway. Tourists showed great interest and took pictures of our Tesla charging some 1950 km from home. We then crossed over to Modena for a quick Supercharge “top off” before we set course to Arezzo, the last but most important Supercharger to get us to Rome. This Supercharger was situated behind a large hotel with nearly no visitors, which made it rather difficult to find. While our Model S was charging, we went inside for coffee and discovered a white-avant-garde nearly hospital like hotel with only two guests: my wife and myself. We named it the Italian “Hotel California”.

Closing in on Rome

Approaching Rome, we discovered that our car was being filmed from someone in a smaller electric car driving alongside us. We gave them some minutes to check out our stylish Model S on the road and ended the session with a little acceleration for a good end!

We did not go into Rome centre, but chose a hotel near the airport, planning to take shuttle busses into centre instead of using time to look for parking.

The hotel we chose offered night charging and the house engineer fixed a small adapter to enable us to charge. However, the price for charging was a shock to me. It started at E100~USD120 for about 30kWh. I did not accept the price and offered to pay them half. Awaiting the offer from the hotel, I had to safeguard it and was rescued by a garage owner and enthusiast, who gave me free parking and a 32 amp charging connection in his nearby “Park and fly business”. Thanks to the enthusiast we could charge up and be able to reach Arezzo and the reliable Supercharger system.

The Proof and the Blessing in Rome

Being in Rome, we had to take picture in front of the Colosseum Gate and at the Vatican to prove that Tesla made it possible to drive from Norway to Rome. God knows, may be the Pope saw the car and gave the Model S his blessing.

The Return to Norway

We took the same route on our way back but stopped over for shopping in Milano. Passing the Alps northbound, we decided to drive up the old road to the top of the San Bernardino Pass at 2066 meters.

When we arrived at the café on top of the mountain, many bikers and tourists were amazed that it was possible to drive all the way from Norway and over the Alps with an electric car. Many Tesla-selfies were taken! Our car was treated like a celebrity!

We also took a quick stop further north in Germany and took the car train to Sylt. Also here, many spectators looked with admiration at our Model S.

We got home after 16 days, safe and sound, after driving about 5300 km. Elon Musk stuck to his promise and made it possible to travel from Norway to Rome using the free Supercharger Stations along the way. All we needed in addition to the Superchargers was a standard charging cable and a small adaptor. *


Elin and Lasse

*The right one on the picture! – the left is a 16 amp outdoor (EU-camper type) type that can be used in Italy)

Tags: Model S, Italy, Norway, Superchargers, Road Trip