The first Tesla Owners Ireland Humanitarian Convoy left late March for Poznań (Poland), returning with 94 Ukrainian refugees and 9 of their pets. A second convoy left May 5th, to return with 40 Ukrainian refugees and 22 of their pets; the number of vehicles in the convoy was reduced owing to the limited number of ferry places available. Of those volunteering to participate, for some it would be their first time going, for others their second.

Meet the drivers

Meet the drivers

Day 1

Early Thursday morning we travelled from across Ireland to meet at Dublin Port at 06:30 to board an Irish Ferries ship bound for Holyhead (Wales) at 08:00, liberally applying Colin’s “Ireland – Ukraine Humanitarian Convoy” stickers to our vehicles prior to boarding, along with disabling Tilt / Intrusion lest our car alarms activate, repeatedly, during the crossing.

“Ireland - Ukraine Humanitarian Convoy” stickers

“Ireland – Ukraine Humanitarian Convoy” stickers

Our itineraries indicated our end of day destinations (and suggested charging locations), though owing to variances in vehicles, batteries, and driving styles, it would essentially be down to each individual driver to decide how to do it – this typically translated to, enter the destination into your navigation and let Tesla figure out where to charge.

Disembarking at 11:30 in Holyhead, I set my Model 3 Long Range’s navigation to our next port of call, Harwich International Port (England) (550km away), with a number of us also enabling location sharing in Google Maps so we could see where other convoy members were. 20 minutes later I was on the North Wales Expressway (A55), and with Autopilot enabled, could relax a bit. With a choice of three Supercharger sites in Stoke-on-Trent, I opted for the faster Trentham Supercharger (8 stalls, 250kW). Meeting Tom there though having failed to secure coffee, I was back on the M6 at 80% having charged for 20 minutes.

Trentham Supercharger

Trentham Supercharger

Some 300km later at 17:45 I arrived at the Colchester Supercharger. With 12 150kW stalls available, this site could easily accommodate the entire convoy, and was our best opportunity for charging up prior to boarding in Harwich International Port (45km away).

Colchester Supercharger

Colchester Supercharger

With most of us on-site and charged up by 19:00, we set off to the Wooden Fender for dinner, subsequently boarding our Stena Line ship to Hook of Holland (Netherlands) at 21:30, which set off at 23:00.

Stats for Day 1
Driven 715km
Total Energy Consumption 113kWh
Average Energy Consumption    158Wh/km

 

Day 2

We disembarked at 08:30, destined for the City Park Hotel & Residence in Poznań (950km away) where we would collect our Ukrainian refugees and their pets the following morning. Having never actually driven on the continent before, it was quite a relief to find myself eased into it with a well segregated road, and back onto a motorway shortly thereafter. Autopilot excelled here, suggesting and performing lane changes for overtaking, and taking exits, and so I arrived at 10:45 at the Hengelo Supercharger (16 stall, 250kW) unfazed by the shift from right-hand to left-hand driving.

Hengelo Supercharger

Hengelo Supercharger

30 minutes later, and a quick chat with John, the car was back up to 90%, and I continued on into, and across, Germany. As before, I let Autopilot do its thing on the Autobahn – resisting the urge to see how fast I could really go, and paying attention to the variable speed limits which I gathered could be somewhat problematic for Speed Assist to recognise. Having now driven a further 350km I stopped at the Irxleben Supercharger (12 stall, 250kW) where I learned that pay-per-use toilets are a thing… luckily I had some Euros with which to make change. Robert arrived as I was preparing to leave, and having charged from 11% to 86% in 30 minutes, was back on the road again at 15:00 – 410km still to go.

After a further uneventful, or so I thought, 90 minutes I pulled into the Blankenfelde-Mahlow Supercharger (8 stall, 150kW). With Poznań only 250km away a quick 5 – 10 minute charge for peace of mind would suffice, as there would be no other Superchargers from here to Poznań. John (an other John) and a member of Tesla Owners Netherlands were here (who was also headed to the City Park Hotel & Residence to collect Ukrainian refugees).

Blankenfelde-Mahlow Supercharger

Blankenfelde-Mahlow Supercharger

It’s around this time that we became aware a vehicle had failed, not an electric vehicle mind you, a Toyota van intended for transporting luggage, etc.. Our support team worked away on sourcing an alternative. Not 10 minutes passed and I was back on the road again.

It’s in Poland I encountered my first toll booth, necessitating exiting the car to run around, retrieve a ticket, and send a quick message asking if anyone knows what I’m supposed to do with it; 130km later, turns out that it’s to hand it in at the next toll booth and pay. Finally, at 19:25 I arrived at the City Park Hotel & Residence in Poznań, down to 6%. The Poznań Supercharger (6 stalls, 150kW) is quite literally located opposite the hotel entrance, and with members of both Tesla Owners Ireland and Netherlands charging, a bit of a queue formed… though not a long one, 10 minutes later I was plugged in and checking in, returning to move the car at 90% at 20:20.

Poznań Supercharger

Poznań Supercharger

With our passengers not set to start arriving until 06:30 we’d some time to rest, relax, and prepare.

Stats for Day 2
Driven 966km
Total Energy Consumption 157kWh
Average Energy Consumption    162Wh/km

 

Day 3

The day began with a bang, or almost did, as I managed to throw my arm out onto the floor to stop my fall from the bed whilst calling out (sorry John). An early morning walk ensued to check out the area, popping into a Biedronka (discount supermarket) at 06:30 for some essential food and water for the journey while we awaited the arrival of our guests. With a limited number of taxis on duty, groups arrived in intervals over the following hour, were introduced to their driver, their luggage loaded up (an alternative van and driver having been secured), and set off for Valenciennes (France) (1,100km away). With varying levels of English, communication was aided by a variety of translation apps, and I loaded up Google Translate on the car’s browser.

Google Translate

Google Translate

My passengers (Vladimir, Hanna, and Katerina) having arrived, we set off at 07:35, stopping some 300km later at the Beelitz Supercharger (14 stalls, 150kW) where we dug into the large breakfast packs the hotel had kindly provided us with. 40 minutes later the car was back at 90%, and we departed at 10:50.

Beelitz Supercharger

Beelitz Supercharger

Having not entirely learned my lesson on the drive to Beelitz by drinking a 700ml bottle of water early into the drive, I proceeded to drink another 700ml bottle of water after waiting what seemed a sufficient length of time, nevertheless springing out of the car on arrival at the Bad Oeynhausen Supercharger (12 stalls, 250kW) at 13:30 (Range anxiety? No. Bladder anxiety? Yes). It’s also here that Vladimir was able to temporarily reunite with his wife and daughter (Iryna and Alina), and their dog Sam. A little over halfway there now (600km), we once more set off again at 14:15.

Having now given up on water, we proceeded on towards Cologne, intending to stop at the Frechen Supercharger. However, with the construction in the area not in sync with the navigation I took the wrong exit… then missed the exit on the second attempt. Rather than waste further time on a third attempt I redirected to the Erftstadt Supercharger some 20 minutes away (28 stalls, 150kw / 250kW). After a quick walk for refreshments, we were once more back on the road 25 minutes later at 17:20 at 86%.

Erftstadt Supercharger

Erftstadt Supercharger

Beyond encountering heavy rains and traffic passing through Belgium, the remainder of the drive was otherwise uneventful, and we finally arrived, 280km later, at the Hôtel ibis budget Valenciennes at 20:15.

Stats for Day 3
Driven 1,153km
Total Energy Consumption 203kWh
Average Energy Consumption    176Wh/km

 

Day 4

Waking before 06:00, I moved the car onto the Valenciennes Supercharger (10 stalls, 150kW) some 200 metres away. 40 minutes later, having had time to shower and pack up, I returned to the car at 90% and was ready to collect my passengers, setting off at 07:00 for Cherbourg Port (500km away). Clearly not too impressed by my Spotify playlist (largely film soundtracks) from the day before, local radio was searched to find “music normal”. Having someone in the front passenger seat greatly aided with the abundance of tolls in France. Several of us made a quick stop at the Rouen Supercharger (12 stalls, 150kW / 250kW), and 15 minutes later were back on the road at 09:40.

125km later we arrived at the convoy’s final charging destination at 10:55, the Caen Supercharger (12 stalls, 150kW), with Cherbourg Port a mere 130km away. In no particular hurry this time and with most of the other drivers arriving here too, myself, Hanna, and Katerina went off to McDonald’s for breakfast, then went off for our own walks, or to talk with the others.

Caen Supercharger

Caen Supercharger

We departed at 11:50, following Robert’s lead, which also saved me from following navigation’s odd recommendation to take the Rte de la Brûlette several minutes from Cherbourg. With the steep decline on the descent into Cherbourg, I noted with some amusement the signs advising us to “Use your engine braking“. We arrived at Cherbourg Port at 13:05 with our 40 Ukrainians and 22 of their pets.

Arrival at Cherbourg Port

Arrival at Cherbourg Port

Stats for Day 4
Driven 506km
Total Energy Consumption 96kWh
Average Energy Consumption    189Wh/km

 

Day 5

We disembarked into Dublin Port at 10:45 where we met with a variety of organisations, including Revenue, Gardai, and Irish Red Cross. Initial processing completed, we said our farewells as they were transported off to other facilities, whereas we headed on home.

Stats for Day 5
Driven 150km
Total Energy Consumption 29kWh
Average Energy Consumption    192Wh/km

 

Summary

5 Days of Driving

5 Days of Driving

Driven 3,489km
Total Energy Consumption 597kWh
Average Energy Consumption    171Wh/km
Total Supercharging Cost €238.78

 

Donations towards funding future humanitarian convoys can be made here. Additional reporting on this convoy by Ronan McGreevy is available on The Irish Times and Twitter.