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24 hours buzzing along: On the road in an electric car

Stefan Richter spent a day on the road in an electric vehicle (EV) for us. 350 kilometers and three charging stations later he concludes that driving around on electric power is great fun.

From Vienna to Györ in an EV

“I wouldn’t quite call it range anxiety, but when I was handed the keys for the BMW i3, I did have a certain respect for the distance between Vienna and Györ”, explains Stefan Richter. He is responsible for Business Development and Strategic Projects at SMATRICS, Austria’s leading all-round provider for electromobility. And he’s therefore also very familiar with all of the prejudice surrounding the range of EVs. And yet the conditions for this journey are anything but optimal: A certain amount of time pressure to get to a client meeting punctually is something that won’t make the drive any more efficient. What is more, the design of the BMW i3 tends more towards urban driving and is not ideally suited to long journeys. But with the onboard computer showing a remaining range of 185 kilometers, the 120 kilometers to Györ should be doable. Shouldn’t it?

The fun of driving an EV

Electromobility is great fun. No turbo lag, no engine noise. What makes driving an EV so much fun is that you genuinely ‘fly’ through the traffic.” 
Stefan Richter, Business Development and Strategic Projects, SMATRICS GmbH & Co KG

But the first challenge is managing the downtown traffic in Vienna. “No turbo lag, no engine noise. What makes driving an EV so much fun is that you genuinely ‘fly’ through the traffic”. When the lights turn green, you’re off straight away as the torque is immediately available thanks to the electric engine. It’s also not long before Stefan Richter gets used to simply taking his foot off the gas instead of braking. This feeds energy back into the battery and provides a completely new driving sensation. On the highway, however, it becomes clear that the i3 is a city car. At speeds of over 130 km/h the power consumed rapidly shoots up. Once again initiating thoughts about the range. 

The myth of range anxiety

Amazingly, the onboard computer is still showing a remaining range of 90 kilometers upon arrival in Györ. “Apparently I was more efficient on the road than expected”, says Stefan Richter with surprise at the low consumption. Now the next task is to fully recharge the EV, which is no problem whatsoever in the parking garage in the center of Györ. A 50 Kilowatt charging point is available and conveniently recharges the EV while Stefan Richter attends his meeting. This also happens to be the core business of SMATRICS. The joint venture of OMV, Siemens and Verbund provides every service related to charging infrastructure – from the charging station itself to ongoing operations through to handling payments, it represents a one-stop-shop for private and business customers alike. With around 450 charging points in Austria, SMATRICS offers a comprehensive network of sites including at filling stations, restaurants or supermarket parking lots. 

OMV’s proactive approach to alternative forms of mobility

Once the meeting is over, Stefan Richter gets into his fully charged vehicle and sets off on his return journey without a care in the world. Nonetheless, he makes another stop at the SMATRICS charging point at the OMV Göttlesbrunn filling station – not completely by chance, as OMV holds a 40-percent stake in SMATRICS. There are currently electric charging points at 15 OMV filling stations in Austria and at two in Germany. OMV has made space for the electric charging points at its filling stations as the acquisition of an interest in 
SMATRICS and the cooperation with IONITY and EnBW are of strategic importance.

“We believe that the fuel mix found at the filling station of the future will be far more diverse. This is why already today we are increasingly offering alternatives to conventional fuels at our filling stations such as natural gas, hydrogen and, yes, electricity”, explains Michael Sattler, responsible for “Future Mobility” at OMV. “Electromobility is currently on the rise, especially for downtown driving”, says Michael Sattler while underlining that “electromobility on the basis of coal-fired power defeats the original purpose. This is not an issue that affects SMATRICS charging stations, however, as 100% of the electricity comes from hydropower through the cooperation with Verbund.”

The final stretch home

Stefan Richter continues on his journey fully charged after a 15-minute charging session and a coffee break. At home he locks up the BMW i3 in his garage. He doesn’t have a fast charging point there, but it’s enough to be able to bring the battery back up to 100% overnight. At the end of the day he gives us his conclusion: Apprehension about range is unfounded. As long as you don’t frequently drive long distances, the battery combined with ample charging points is completely sufficient. And he grins, “Electromobility is great fun!”

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