800km South African road trip in Volvo’s fastest electric car

We recently took a trip from Pretoria to Golden Gate National Park in the Free State in Volvo’s fastest electric vehicle (EV) — the EX30 — and found the 800km journey incredibly comfortable with minimal charging challenges.

As I’ve previously made long-distance trips in EVs in South Africa, I knew some planning would be necessary to ensure adequate range between charging stops.

The shortest distance between our home and choice of accommodation — the remote and picturesque Golden Gate Highlands Retreat — was around 370km.

The EX30 model we had has a combined WLTP range of 460km with an energy efficiency of 16.3kWh/100km.

However, as most of our trip would be at highway speeds, our real-life range would be slightly less. Therefore, we knew that we would have to stop along the way to charge at least once.

Fortunately, our route had numerous charging stations.

We found the ideal first stop would be a fast 60kW DC charger at a fuel station about halfway to our destination.

In the event that this charging station was not functional or offline for some reason, we would take an alternative route that passed another charger on the N3 about 70km onwards.

The second charger was a 22kW AC station in the art-focused tourist town of Clarens, where we planned to spend a few hours shopping and taking in the art at various galleries.

This station needed to be working because it would add the necessary range for us to drive back home, as our accommodation’s parking was too far away from our unit for the AC portable charger.

Charging the Volvo EX30 at N3 Vaal West Engen fuel station near Villiers.

A lot of our range anxiety quickly disappeared thanks to the car’s integrated Google Maps.

Google Maps shows the real-time status of chargers on GridCars’ network, and the EX30’s version of the app can also communicate with the onboard computer to estimate how much range would remain after reaching a destination.

To avoid waiting for a charge to complete, we timed our charging stops on the way to Golden Gate to coincide with breakfast, lunch, and shopping.

Both chargers worked quite well and achieved close to their peak charging speeds.

The only major issue we encountered was on the return trip.

Shortly after starting to charge at the 60kW DC charger on the N3 near Villiers, a family in an Audi e-tron pulled up.

The charger’s slower extra 22kW AC side was not working and could not be activated remotely by GridCars.

However, the integrated Google Maps app said we only needed to charge the EX30 up to 65% to travel the remaining 170km to our home.

Having arrived with a 47% charge after the trip from Clarens, it took about 24 minutes to reach that minimum recommended level.

We unplugged and let the e-tron take over the DC side as it had just 40km of range left and still had to take the family to their home in Johannesburg.

We arrived at home with the battery level at 11%, with 38km of remaining range.

The Google Maps integration in the EX30 showed how much battery we would have left upon arrival at each desintation. Where a charger was available, it would also recommend a minimum charge level to reach the next destination.

A pleasure to drive

The overall driving experience in the Volvo EX30 was sublime.

The EX30’s Pilot Assist system with surround cameras was adept at reading road markings and the proximity of other vehicles to help keep the car in its lane and maintain a safe following distance in adaptive cruise control.

Overtaking trucks and other slow-moving vehicles was a breeze, with the twin motors’ near-instant response providing 315kW power and 543Nm of torque.

We mostly maintained a 120km/h on the highway and speeds ranging between 100km/h and 120km/h on the regional roads.

The seats remained comfortable throughout the roughly 4-hour to 5-hour journey each way, and the boot offered plenty of space for all our baggage, a cool bag, wood, and charcoal.

The table below summarises the travelling and charging experience in the Volvo EX30 on a one-night weekend trip between Pretoria and Golden Gate National Park.

Underneath are some photos of the EX30 charging up and exploring the park.

Volvo EX30 long-distance road trip — Pretoria to Golden Gate National Park
773.1km round-trip distance
Location Arrival time Arrival charge Departure time Departing charge Time at location and activities Onboard computer reporting
Saturday, 18 May 2024
Home in Pretoria 06:59 100%
N3 Engen Vaal West Gridcars 60kW DC charging station, Villiers 08:37 44% 09:27 95% 50 minutes:
Breakfast at Wimpy
Bathroom break
Quick shop at the forecourt store
Total distance: 167.5km
Average speed: 112.9km/h
Consumption: 23.2kWh/100km
Protea Hotel 22kW Audi AC charging station, Clarens 11:36 35% 13:31 84% 1 hour and 55 minutes:
General shopping and walkabout in Clarens
Drinks and small lunch at restaurant
Total distance: 356.6km
Average speed: 101.9km/h
Consumption: 22.2kWh/100km
Highlands Mountain Retreat, Golden Gate National Park 14:59 72% Accommodation destination — no charging Total distance: 384.9km
Average speed: 89.4km/h
Consumption: 22.7kWh/100km
Sunday, 19 May 2024
Highlands Mountain Retreat, Golden Gate National Park 09:11 72% Accommodation destination — no charging Total distance: 384.9km
Average speed: 89.4km/h
Consumption: 22.7kWh/100km
Protea Hotel 22kW Audi AC charging station, Clarens 10:55 65% 12:56 100% 2 hours:
General shopping, gallery visits, and walkabout in Clarens
Total distance: 426.1km
Average speed: 75.1km/h
Consumption: 22kWh/100km
N3 Engen Vaal West Gridcars 60kW DC charging station, Villiers 14:46 47% 15:10 66% 24 minutes:
Coffee break and chat with Audi e-tron owner
Total distance: 608km
Average speed: 81.4km/h
Consumption: 21.4kWh/100km
Home in Pretoria 17:18 11% Total distance: 773.2km
Average speed: 83.3km/h
Consumption: 21.1kWh/100km

Volvo EX30 at sunrise in Golden Gate National Park.
Volvo EX30 Thor’s Hammer headlights at sunrise in the Golden Gate National Park.
Volvo EX30 near Highlands Retreat in the Golden Gate National Park.
Volvo EX30 in the Golden Gate National Park.
Volvo EX30 in the Golden Gate National Park.
Volvo EX30 parked at the vulture hide in the Golden Gate National Park.
Volvo EX30 next to the Brandwag outcropping in Golden Gate National Park.
A view of the Golden Gate National Park from inside the Volvo EX30.
A view of the Golden Gate from inside the Volvo EX30.
Charging the Volvo EX30 on the street next to Protea Hotel Clarens at 22kW AC charging station.

Latest news

Partner Content

Show comments

Recommended

Share this article
800km South African road trip in Volvo’s fastest electric car