1,400km electric road trip from Joburg to Durban in the Volvo EX30

We recently travelled over 1,400km on a long weekend road trip between Gauteng and Durban in Volvo’s EX30 electric car and had an incredibly comfortable experience overall, despite some charging niggles.

The N3 has the largest concentration of charging stations of any long-distance route between major cities in South Africa.

Seven DC charging stations are located along the roughly 570 kilometres between Johannesburg and Durban, excluding those within the cities themselves.

With a working charger roughly every 81km, a frequency similar to petrol stations, range anxiety was far from our minds.

We started our trip in Centurion at 16:00 on Friday, 14 June 2024, with the car’s battery on 95%.

The trip down to Durban would happen over more than one day, as we chose to overnight halfway at a guest farm near Harrismith.

The only major charging issue we encountered on the entire trip was at a GridCars station at the Engen Tugela garage on Saturday morning, where the 80kW DC charger would not detect when it was plugged into the car.

We had only planned to get a takeaway breakfast at Wimpy, but because we had to use the backup 22kW AC charger, we decided to enjoy a sit-down meal.

At another GridCars charging station that we used both ways, the RFID scanner was not working, which meant our card could not unlock the charger.

Fortunately, this can also be done via the GridCars ChargePocket app or by sending a request to the GridCars team on WhatsApp using a number registered to a ChargePocket account.

The EX30’s immense power, lightning-fast acceleration, plethora of driver-assistance features, and comfortable seats made the hours spent in the car much easier.

The built-in Google Maps navigation, with GridCars live map integration, showed how much we needed to charge the car at each station to reach the next destination.

Google Maps on the Volvo EX30’s infotainment system showing the optimal stops and times to charge the EX30 on our return trip.

Killing some time

The total time we spent charging the EX30 on the way down was about 2 hours and 30 minutes. On the return trip, it was two hours and 7 minutes.

The 592km trip down took about nine hours and 23 minutes. The main factors contributing to this long time were:

  • A 25-minute traffic delay in Johannesburg due to the long weekend
  • 40 minutes spent on the detour to and from the guest farm
  • 45 extra minutes charging the car on a slower AC charger at Engen Tugela

The 650km return trip without an overnight stopover was much faster — eight hours and 36 minutes — but also included an accident that added about 10 minutes of travelling time.

We estimated that our time off the road for charging was around double to three times what it would have been when using a petrol or diesel car.

Charging the EX30 at the Engen Tugela garage on Saturday, 15 June 2024.

For three of the six stops we made to charge the EX30, most of the time was spent eating sit-down meals. This time would likely have been the same when driving a petrol car.

The other three stops would likely not have happened with the petrol car.

To kill time, we made quick runs to the bathroom and enjoyed coffee breaks while watching YouTube videos on the car’s display.

An important factor to note is that we chose not to charge at any of our overnight accommodation, which could have significantly reduced the time spent at charging stations.

The table below summarises all our charging stops and times during the trip down to Durban from Centurion and the return from Salt Rock near Ballito to Pretoria.

We have excluded the distances travelled around the Durban area and the two charging stops we made during our leisure time, and we have focused on the two-way trip between our main destinations.

Volvo EX30 long-distance road trip — Pretoria to Durban
Location Arrival
time
Arrival
charge
Departure
time
Departing charge Time at location and activities Distance covered and time travelled
Friday, 14 June 2024
Office in Centurion 16:10 95%
Rubicon 100kW DC Charging Station
Sasol Thanda Tau, N3 South
18:49 32% 19:37 93% Sit-down dinner at Spur
48 minutes
213km
2 hours and 39 minutes
Appin Farm Guest House
Harrismith outskirts
20:57 58% 58% Accommodation for the night, no charging done 113km
1 hour and 20 minutes
Saturday, 15 June 2024
Appin Farm Guest House, Harrismith outskirts 07:00 58% Leaving accommodation
Gridcars 80kW Charging Station
Engen Tugela, N3 South
07:44 47% 08:49 74% 1 hour and 5 minutes:
Breakfast at Wimpy
(45 minutes extra time due to broken DC charger)
42km
44 minutes
GridCars 30kW Charging Station
Engen Mooi 1-Stop, Adelaide
09:40 32% 10:17 53% 37 minutes:
Coffee and YouTube
(10 minutes extra time waiting for remote charging activation)
97km
37 minutes
Northdene, Queensburgh 11:50 26% Accommodation for the night, no charging done 127km
1 hour and 33 minutes
Total for trip down 2 hours and 30 minutes 592km
6 hours and 53 minutes
Monday, 17 June 2024
Villa Roc Guest House 10:36 89% Leaving accommodation
GridCars 30kW Charging Station
Engen Mooi 1-Stop, Adelaide
12:36 28% 13:21 51% 45 minutes:
Coffee and YouTube
(10 minutes extra time waiting for remote charging activation)
184km
2 hours
Gridcars 150kW Charging Station
Engen Tugela, N3 South
14:15 19% 15:10 93% 55 minutes:
Sit-down lunch at Wimpy
97km
54 minutes
Rubicon 100kW DC Charging Station, Sasol Thanda Tau, N3 South 16:38 43% 17:05 84% 27 minutes:
Coffee and YouTube
146km
1 hour and 28 minutes
Office in Centurion 19:12 20% Final destination 223km
2 hours and 7 minutes
Total for return trip 2 hours and 7 minutes 650km
6 hours and 29 minutes

Volvo EX30 photos

First charging stop at Rubicon 100kW station on trip down to Durban.
Early in the morning before departing from our halfway stop at Appin Guest Farm.
The GridCars charging station at Engen Tugela, where we needed to use the slower AC side.
GridCars charging station in Umhlanga.
Watching Conan O’Brien lose his mind eating spicy wings on an episode of First We Feast’s Hot Ones.

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1,400km electric road trip from Joburg to Durban in the Volvo EX30