In constant pursuit of power.

From Lake Constance to Gibraltar on the C evolution.

Electromobility is only for the city? That's what you think. We can do better than that. This is what Reimar Hellwig thought anyway. He has done a great deal of pioneering and has ridden some 6,000 kilometres on the BMW electric scooter C evolution in just six weeks. Without any problems. From Lake Constance to Gibraltar and back again. With tales of power outlet and other travel encounters.

Quiet but spectacular.

Quiet but spectacular.

Quiet and emission-free: Reimar Hellwig sets the tone. Against exhaust fumes and clattering noises. This is not the first time that he is on the road in a "climate- and environmentally-friendly" way. After travelling to the North Cape in 2016 using electric power, he made his way to Europe's southernmost point at the age of 76. Although it is almost noiseless and produces no exhaust fumes, it still attracts a great deal of attention: wherever Reimar goes on his tour through France and Spain, he always meets interested, curious and astonished people who are inspired by him and his C evolution – he lovingly refers to the electric scooter as "Mi cavallo electrico".  

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The other way.

Sure, Reimar leaves little to chance. He plans his route to Gibraltar meticulously. This is, of course, important so that he does not run the risk of the scooter grinding to a halt because the charging facilities in France and Spain are anything but satisfactory. "The charging stations in Spain in particular are very few and far between", says Reimar. And in France, charging stations usually charge you based on how long you use them. This often works out at 30 cents per minute. "With a charging time of three hours, this would amount to 50 euros for six or seven kilowatt hours" he calculates. Reimar always finds another way – and uses a different strategy: he plans his route so that he passes by car dealerships, workshops, gas stations and restaurants, where he can sometimes recharge his wheels from a normal outlet.

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If in doubt, go with six amps.

If in doubt, go with six amps.

Reimar first selects his goals on a map: for example, Merville near Toulouse, Andorra, Extremadura with the Monfragüe Natural Park, Seville, Gibraltar, Costa del Sol, Sierra Nevada and Andalusia, La Mancha in Castile and Albacete are all important milestones on his journey. After roughly outlining the route, it's on to the detailed planning phase. He sets the daily distances at 200 to 250 kilometres, which initially might not seem like a lot. "But I had to take into account that in Spain you can only charge at six amps. I also wanted to arrive at the destination in the afternoon in order to see the sights and fully recharge the scooter before night time, or to take care of some shopping". This strategy already paid off in Spain, as the afternoons are unbearably hot.

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Reimar divided his daily routes into stages of an estimated 100 to 120 kilometres, looking for larger towns and googling the name with the supplement "garage". He writes out addresses conveniently located on the route along with phone numbers and inserts them into his route planning documentation. "So that I could ride to them later with the sat nav". As he found out later, car dealerships and larger repair shops had a big advantage: they usually have a well fused socket.

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Sunday is a day of rest.

Sunday is a day of rest.

Reimar also looked up all 27 hotels at the respective daily destinations for the entire 5700 kilometres. Reimar plans one day off during the week right from the outset: "Sunday was a day of rest for me, because the garages were closed and recharging at the restaurants was rather difficult".  

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Good times, bad times.

Both in France and in Spain, there are some peculiarities when it comes to the issue of electricity – the lunch break is invaluable, as only the restaurants are open. In France, the workshops usually close from 12 until 2 and in Spain from 1 until 4 for the Siesta. In the south, it even lasts from 1.30 until 5 p.m. Hence why Reimar was already astride his C evolution by 8 a.m. In France, he charged the scooter between 10 a.m. and 12 noon on some days in order to reach the next hotel. "While in France the sockets are generally fused at 16 amps and the battery can be charged at 13 amps, it was more difficult in Spain, because usually only 10-amp fuses are installed". And if there are other people using the supply, the charging current can be reduced to eight or six amps. This prolongs the charging time.

No matter where Reimar stops to charge his electric scooter, he always offers to pay for the electricity. "This was rejected in most cases." Instead, he has 25 lighters shaped like small gold bars in his luggage, which he hands out as gifts. "For the majority, it was a pleasure and a matter of course to help a wandering traveller", reports Reimar.

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OF POWER OUTLET SEARCHES AND MISUNDERSTANDINGS

Reimar's Hotel in Rodez is on the e-mobility strip; guests are allowed to use e-bikes. "In that sense, the understood my needs immediately, but people were still amazed by my vehicle". Since there is no garage, he would push the scooter through the front door and the hall into the gym – finally some food for the electric steed. In Toledo, he gets a room on the fifth floor. At reception, he asks the obligatory question regarding electricity. He is told that there were several plug sockets in his room. Obviously there has been a misunderstanding. And Reimar does not believe that are no outlets in the underground car park. He is immediately convinced: "In the very large underground car park, I found four suitable sockets for my C evolution".

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No voltage.

In Jerez, south of Seville, Reimar needs to charge his bike on a Saturday and asks a phone service provider that operates a large vehicle fleet where it might be possible to do so. They are incredible helpful. But wherever Reimar connects his charger, the batteries do not charge. "The voltage wasn't right or the cable was probably not properly earthed". After a long time searching, Reimar eventually finds a working wall socket in an office.

He also meets courteous and helpful employees at the BMW dealership in Granada. They give the rider coffee, cookies and a comfortable space. They connect the scooter at a favoured place in the workshop. Of course, they are familiar with the Scooter C evolution; the employees have probably already sold some. Nevertheless, they are still astonished: "The fact that you can travel so far with the C evolution really surprised and delighted everyone", says Reimar. Despite the consistently good experience, he is brusquely brushed aside at one car dealership, despite Reimar again offering to pay for the electricity. With an unfriendly and rude tone, he is told to go to a public charging station.

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"
Electric travel is very calming, less stressful and much more communicative. You experience the country and the people much more intensively and it's more enriching than with conventional travel.
"

This range is far-reaching.

This range is far-reaching.

From one charging station, his route takes him over a hilly motorway to Lyon and on to Bourg en Bresse. Once there, Reimar has ridden 152 kilometres – but the display still shows him a guaranteed range of 54 kilometres. That makes 206 kilometres altogether. The manufacturer specifies a range of 160 kilometres. Some external factors influence the power consumption and work to Reimar's advantage. "The destination was about 400 metres lower than the starting point, there was a slight tailwind on most of the route, the outside temperature was between 32 and 34 degrees Celsius and because of the dense traffic, the average speed was only about 60 km/h."  

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DECELERATION AND UNJUSTIFIED CONCERN

Reimar remembers it from earlier, when he still travelled in conventional fashion: usually in the morning after getting up, he would have a certain daily schedule in mind, part of which would be addressed immediately after breakfast. With e-travel, this is different: Reimar sets off immediately and travels around 100 to 130 kilometres, knowing he will do everything he did not manage at the beginning of the day in the charging break. Reimar does not consider the two- to three-hour charging break to be a waste of time because he spends the time having lunch, writing messages using his smartphone, studying the route, setting the sat nav and going shopping. Or he talks to other bikers and his "electricity donors".

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"
The worry about getting stuck with empty batteries is only justified if you use up your full range including the reserve and do not recharge in time. And there is electricity everywhere.
"

When the Guardia Civil let their masks slip.

When the Guardia Civil let their masks slip.

Wherever Reimar goes, the scooter is immediately a talking point, even with the Guardia Civil, who frequently perform roadside checks at traffic junctions. "Since their bikes are usually BMW motorcycles, I sometimes pulled up next to the police ostensibly helpless as I asked for directions, before pointing to my e-scooter – indicating that our bikes both originate from the same company, BMW Motorrad". At this point, the serious and strict-looking policemen suddenly drop their guard, look at Reimar's scooter with interest and ask the usual questions about the technical data and his journey. A friendly handshake to say goodbye and wishing him all the best for his onward journey – the C evolution has broken them out of their reserves. Reimar has taken a stance on this point as well.

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