So you decided to visit Northern Finland in your brand-new EV – great! You start driving and you notice that your battery charge is getting low. If you have a Tesla, good for you – Tesla charging infrastructure is the best in the world but it only works for Tesla cars (even though that’s going to change, see Tesla opening its supercharger network in Europe). However, even Tesla’s infrastructure can only get you so far – at the time you drive by Oulu you better start looking for other ways to charge.
Let’s quickly recap what your options are:
- There’s Ionity but it’s massively overpriced (0,8€ per kWh is an outrage), and there are no stations above Lahti, rendering the Ionity network useless for the purpose of our trip.
- There are Fortum, Virta and charging stations of other operators, but it’s almost always a lone 50kW CCS charger – if it is occupied or broken you have to hunt for another one (or call a towing service). This is not a network you can rely on, period.
- There’s K-Lataus which is actually quite decent – it goes all the way up to Rovaniemi and there are usually two CCS stalls – even if one is broken and/or occupied, you can still use the other one (unless it’s also occupied, then you’re screwed). I consider this to be an emergency service – it’s there if you need it, but it’s hardly reliable for regular travels. The downside is that you pay by the minute – see below on why this is far from perfect (even though 0,20€ per minute is generally a good deal).
- There’s Tesla which sports at least 4 CCS stalls per charging station, and often more – 8 stalls, or even more. You can always rely on this kind of network to be available without delay when you come and charge. It only works for Tesla cars though, and the network ends below Oulu.
- And if you’re reading this in the summer of 2021, that’s about it.
A Detour: Be Careful What You Pay For
The majority of the charging operators will charge you based on how long you have been charging. For example, at some Fortum charging stations you’ll pay 0,30€ per minute. Now imagine that you need to charge your car during the winter. When the battery is freezing cold, it is not capable of charging at full speed. In such conditions, the battery will usually charge at around 25kW until it gets warm enough to take a full charge. The problem is that you’ll end up paying as if you charged at the full speed (usually at 50kW). That means that you will end up paying more for what you get.
Paying per minute favors the charging operators while paying per kWh favors you as the customer. Not to mention that paying per minute is the equivalent of paying for gasoline in seconds rather than litres, which is obviously quite an absurd notion. Therefore, I personally always prefer stations that bill you by the kilowatt-hour.
Continuing the detour: CHAdeMO
The CHAdeMO situation in Europe is pretty bad. The best you can do is to have one stall per charging site, and that includes the big players as well. Tesla will not offer any means of charging via CHAdeMO. And as far as I know, there is no CCS-to-CHAdeMO adapter around which would enable you to charge your CHAdeMO car on CCS stalls. Even Nissan (the long-time proponent of CHAdeMO) is transitioning to CCS.
The European car market has pretty much decided: CCS is the future and CHAdeMO is dead. The best is to avoid electric cars with the CHAdeMO charging port.
Back from the detour: The new player in town
To sum your situation up, you only have sub-par options of charging, and the trip to northern Finland is pretty much an adventure that can go either way. Fortunately, that is about to change. The ABC Lataus network entered the game, and in a big way:
- The charging station site offers 3 CCS stalls at least; at some places you even have 6 CCS stalls. Having 3 stalls available is okay-ish; anything above 4 is what I call a reliable charging site. On top of that there are four Type 2 connectors as well; in the worst case if all of the CCS stalls are occupied you can still plug in and get at least a bit of charge until one of the CCS stalls is freed.
- The ABC Lataus bills you by the kilowatt-hour, rather than by the minute.
- The stations are located in Prismas or S-Markets where you can shop for groceries and snacks for the trip, visit the restrooms and even have a meal at a restaurant if there is one.
- The charging speed is not the typical slow-ish 50kW – it’s actually 60% faster at 80kW. You can fill up your car pretty much in 40 minutes.
Having reliable charging sites is very important and simplifies trip planning quite a lot. I can’t stress the importance of this point enough. When you have a reliable charging network, you are able to plan your trip without having to have a backup plan for every bloody charger. You don’t have to get stressed whether you will be able to charge or whether you’ll be left on the road dead with an empty battery. This is basically why everyone is getting a Tesla – having reliable Superchargers at your disposal removes all of the stress from your journey.
The charging prices are really competitive and really favourable. I could not find the ABC lataus hinnasto on the web; the only way to see the prices at the moment is to open the ABC-mobiili app, find the station and open the “latauspisteet” page. The current prices of charging are as follows (as of 8.11.2021):
- The 11/22kW Type 2 AC connector costs 0,20€ per kWh
- The 80kW CCS / 50kW CHAdeMO DC connector costs 0,25€ per kWh. This is almost the best deal you can get – even Tesla chargers cost something around 0,35€ per kWh. This price level is almost unbeatable.
- There’s a 150kW CCS labeled suurteholataus but I couldn’t find the price information.
The important thing here is that ABC bills you by the kilowatt-hour rather than by the minute; also the price is almost unbeatable. You’re also accruing S-Group bonus points – a minor advantage, but an advantage nonetheless.
Location, location, location
You can check the ABC Asemat map out for a map of all available chargers. The network is currently bare-bones – there are hardly any sites in Oulu and above. The reason is that the map only shows completed chargers – it doesn’t show chargers currently under construction. For example, the Prisma Kemi charger is coming up; when it’s online it will finally offer a reliable charging location in Kemi. The PlugShare map is a great way to hunt for new ABC stations (or for any charging stations for that matter).
Once completed, the ABC network will offer a reliable way to get around in Finland. I definitely recommend you to set up the payments in your ABC-mobiili app, so that you can take advantage of this brand spanking new charging network.