Tesla to Geneva: Day 4
Day 4 Endingen, Germany to Zurich, Switzerland
At 8am in the sleepy German township of Endingen while reading the local newspaper I realise two things - I don't understand a word of German and solar panels are front and back page news (the large pictures were discernible). I think of Mike from Gerber and hope the press works in his and the Solar PV industries favour.
Kevin, the Tesla and I meet up with Mike and his Tesla and one other at his compound 600m from our hotel. It's a crisp late winter morning and the sky is blue, seizing the opportunity we decide to photograph the three iconic cars in front of the amazing solar array at Gerber. I'm entrusted with taking the snaps and lining up the cars – luckily no electric cars end up in the 6ft deep moat surrounding the PV array. This is a good start to the day.
After snapping the cars and solar panels from more angles than I can find a clever simile for, its time for us to depart on the penultimate leg of our 1000 mile voyage – destination Zurich. One of the drivers hacks the Tesla's built in navigation with his laptop, a route is programmed to Zurich by-passing the Autobahns and cutting straight through the black mountains. Business cards are exchanged and the engines are started – the silence depicts the quiet before the electrical storm, we're off.
After passing through the nearest city we start to climb, and climb, and climb. 500, 600, 750 meters until we reach the summit at 1.2km high in the sky. The temperature plummets to -1°C. Surely the rate of climb to this altitude and temperature will affect the range? It's unclear whether the Tesla suddenly changed the HUD to feed the paranoia or if it had reduced gradually – but I notice we certainly have lost more miles than we have travelled. This could be tricky.
We stop the car to enjoy the vista – a breath-taking scene through a snow covered alpine valley, the picture would make a great tweet. No signal, lets hope we don't run out of range up here – time to get back down to earth. Though part of me wishes I could stay, it's truly beautiful.
We descend for 30 miles and something magical happens, again. We don't lose a single mile of range throughout the whole descent; the clever girl had been giving the batteries power generated from the climb down the mountain. There is nothing more satisfying for a driver than free fuel – this is incredible. Mr Sharpe jokes and says it must be my aura giving the car power, but I understand the science and it is truly majestic. We stop for Greek food, with our new German friend on the border of Switzerland in a car that feeds itself energy, could this get any more ordinary?
Confident in the cars ability to overcome any obstacle we decide to test its weight limits by eating far too much at lunch. 30 minutes after leaving the quaint alpine restaurant we cross a shimmering river and the backdrop of the black mountains. Over the bridge and our phones beep - 'Welcome to Switzerland, roaming charges apply'. No border gate, no passport checks, no sign, how very subtle, how very sophisticated – how very Swiss.
We cut through the master class of architecture that is Zurich City and climb a few hundred meters to the top of a hill and our resting place for the night. As we pull into the car park and navigate to the HPC and 3 63Amp 'dumb' sockets we find another Tesla friend. Turns out he drove 1000km in 24 hours in his roadster, as you do.
We turn our noses up at the Bentley's, Lamborghini's, Audi's and Mercedes parked next to us and check in. Tomorrow its time for the invasion, stand tall soldiers and rest up, that's a direct order - Charlie.