Wiebe Wakker is a Dutchman travelling around the world with electric car. Plug Me In initiative presents a road trip with the twist. It is “a purpose-driven adventure with the aim to inspire, educate and accelerate the transition to a zero carbon future.“
Here you can read the interview with Wiebe Wakker
What is the objective of your project?
With Plug Me In I try to do my part in the acceleration of the transition to a zero carbon future. Electric vehicles are a part of the solution but also the transition is going very slow, mainly because of the many prejudices about EV’s. People think they are not reliable or cannot cover long distances. If I can show that I can drive from Holland to the other side of the world, why should we not be able to use it everyday.
How do you finance it?
Plug Me In is based on the collaboration between people. People can offer me a place to sleep, a meal or place to charge the car. By these people also the route is decided, and this made me zigzag around Europe, Asia and Oceania, crossing 33 countries so far. This is how I get around. It happens that I don’t eat for a few days or knock on someone’s door to ask him if it is OK to charge the car.Sometimes I do need money to pay for visas or shipment of the car. I stayed for 2 months in Dubai to gather that money and later a few months in Malaysia to afford the shipping to Australia.
What is the first thing you do when you arrive in a new place?
Do you only stop to charge the car, or do you take the time to visit nice places?
I definitely take time to see places. It is great to go almost everywhere with my electric car as you can find electricity nearly everywhere. I’m very lucky to have seen some of the most beautiful places in the world. It depends a bit on the time though. Sometimes I just travel through and sometimes I really take time to see places.
How do you organize yourself with car charging? Have you encountered any difficulties?
In the beginning I planned everything carefully because I had this thing called range anxiety. But one time it was not possible to organize stuff and I just drove somewhere and find a place to charge. I call this ‘Range Excitement’, I start driving and when I have just 10% battery left, at that point I look on the map and see if there is a town/city/ road house nearby and plug the car in to charge. It always works.
Does the EV Portable works well?
Yes it has been my primary charger and I use it almost every day. I find it very convenient that I can easily switch between wall outlet or 3-phase charging. The design is also way better than my other cables which I use for backup.
Before beginning your great trip, did you have any knowledge about how worked an electric car? What model of car do you use? Would you recommend it?
Actually, I didn’t have any knowledge about cars. Only 2 weeks before I left, I learnt how to change a tire and maybe my lack of knowledge is my advantage because someone who would have known more about this car probably wouldn’t have done this. I use a converted VW Golf from 2009. It’s one of the first-generation electric vehicles. It was originally the car from a Dutch utilities company. They wanted EV’s to research V2G-technology but there were no cars available, so they converted 50 of these cars to fully electric. Later it got into the hand of Marcel from Bundles and he lent me this car for this project. I definitely recommend this car. It Is reliable, the range is good (200km) and there is enough space to fit all the luggage. If you are interested in this car, I have bad news, there were only 50 of these cars made.
Why didn’t you choose a Tesla for a larger range?
I was not in the lucky position to choose a car. This project was my graduation project and as a poor student I couldn’t afford an electric car and needed a sponsor. I was lucky to find Marcel from Bundles who sponsored this car. Also, I wanted to prove that this trip is possible with ‘normal’ electric cars so I actually prefer this one over a Tesla.
Why doing this trip alone
I wanted to challenge myself. I think that if you are alone, you grow more as you need to face a lot of challenges on your own.
How does the population react to your story, to your trip and objectives?
Amazing! I am overwhelmed by all the reactions I get. Everyone is super excited about what I am doing because it is adventurous, interesting and a bit crazy. People find it a good promotion for EV and sustainability and are very happy to help me out. Already over 1.500 people from 45 countries offered help.
It is such a long journey you are doing, you must have gained a lot of diverse experiences. Has it occurred to your car to have a flat tire an accident, or to get fined?
I had only 1 flat tire so far and never an accident. I did get a few speeding and parking tickets in Europe though.
We have seen that you did not stop in Spain, was it because no one offered you to stay there of because it was not part of your plan?
Unfortunately, nobody offered me to stay there 🙁
We know this adventure is close to the end since you have reached Australia. Are you thinking about continuing your trip in America, or in Asia?
Yes, I am thinking about crossing all of the world. To go the tip of South America after Australia and then continue my way to Alaska. But I will decide this when I reach Sydney. At that time, I have been traveling for nearly 3 years and maybe I am too tired.
Thank you, a lot, for answering these questions. You must have inspired so many persons. We are looking forward to watching your documentary so it can inspire even more people.
Have a safe trip!
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