Charging in St. Petersburg, Russia

St. Petersburg was our last destination in Russia. Besides its famous Hermitage, we mainly remembered the city from history lessons (Siege of Leningrad). On our last day, we experienced our own very, very little siege of St. Petersburg. I’ll tell more about this later.

Meating the EV-time team

Vadim, working with his team to grow the charging network for EVs in Russia, invited us to visit him and his team to learn more about his work. He told us, how EV-time is steadily growing the charging network especially in St. Petersburg. Unfortunately, the main part of the network is only open to holders of a special card. This card can only be distributed to Russians so far. The EV-time team is trying hard to change that and to extend the network outside of St. Petersburg. We are excited to see the result of their work the next time we’re in Russia!

Charging the car in the underground parking of a mall

Due to the reason named above, we didn’t use the EV-time network to charge the Tesla in St. Petersburg. We used a (individual) charging station in the underground parking of a mall. Of course, another legitimization card was necessary to get the charging going. It took a little while, until we found this card: The first security guy we asked brought Benedikt to the parking ticket machine. Since this was not what he wanted, he was sent to the information desk. The lady there told him to go to the administration of the parking garage. There, the people finally understood his question and followed Benedikt to our car. Apparently, there was no other EV in the parking garage for the last 4 months. Maybe, that’s the reason why nobody is informed… From a parking garage in Poland, where we charged last year and that had the same model of charger, we knew that charging only starts when you close the little door after you plugged in. After this was closed, charging started and we were happy!

Our siege of St. Petersburg

24 hours before we wanted to leave St. Petersburg, we noticed heavy road works in front of the gate leading to the backyard where we parked. There was a sign in Russian, probably put up the night before, that roadworks would last 2 days. One day too long for us… The feeling of being locked in, isn’t great. We decided to try to find another exit. Backyards in St. Petersburg seem to be like labyrinths. Our host helped us to find another way out. Somehow, we managed to get the car through a gate, only a few millimeters wider than the car, into the next courtyard. Thanks to an open gate towards the street, we could leave the courtyard labyrinth from there. Uffff…

outlet/socket Volt Ampere kW kWh
Typ 2  220 volt  3 * 32 amperes 22 kW 50 kWh

Charging in Veliky Novgorod

Veliky Novgorod

With settlement first being mentioned in chronicles in 859, Veliky Novgorod is supposed to be one of the oldest cities of Russia. During the Middle Ages, the city was even one of the largest settlements of Europe. Of all the former glory, mainly the Kremlin and a few churches are left. Nevertheless, Veliky Novgorod, situated at the Volkhov River, is a nice provincial town that’s worth a visit.

Easy charging

We stayed there for two nights. Our “problem” (it doesn’t really seem like a problem anymore…) of charging was solved by a CEE-32 belonging to a restaurant in the outskirts of Veliky Novgorod. The restaurant was on plugshare and therefore super easy to find. Since the kitchen worked very slowly, the charging was just done, when we were ready with lunch (2 hours after we entered the restaurant). I guess, it doesn’t happen very often that one doesn’t mind at all a slow service 😉.

With a car charged at 70% we left the next morning to Saint Petersburg.

outlet/socket Volt Ampere kW kWh
CEE-32  220 volt  32 amperes 22 kW 35 kWh

Charging in Tver, Russia

We left the Supercharger in Moscow (see this post) relatively late in the afternoon – we still had about 4 hours of driving in front of us. It took us at least an hour to get out of Moscow. Traffic was (like always) really bad.

A guest house, owned by Tesla drivers, offered on plug share that you could sleep and charge there. It was perfectly located between Moscow and Veliky Novgorod. Everything just sounded brilliant to us! The place seemed almost deserted when we reached it. We found a lady working at the bar of the restaurant. She welcomed us quite rude (made us walk to her side of the bar and didn’t even try to talk slowly. Since our Russian is still poor, we just didn’t understand what she intended to tell us). After a while the owner of the hotel appeared and showed us the room as well as the CEE-16 outlet. I guess, we got what we needed (sleep and electricity) at the guest house. Hospitality is just interpreted quite diversely in Russia.

Our drive continued in the morning to Veliky Novgorod.

outlet/socket Volt Ampere kW kWh
CEE-16  240 volt  16 amperes 11 kW 50 kWh

Charging in Moscow, Russia

Moscow and its traffic

Moscow is huge, really huge.  With 13.2 million residents, it’s supposed to be the largest city on the European continent. Traffic is crazy in Moscow. The craziness is incomparable to Tehran (see this post), but traffic congestions are a major issue in Moscow. If you want to go anywhere, better take the Metro, because otherwise you might stand for a long time in one of the many traffic jams.

We left the Tesla parked for 3 days in front of our Airbnb house. The apartment that we rented was well situated and we could use the Metro to get in the city-center or even almost walk there.

Just being tourist

We spent one day at the Kremlin, but I got soon enough of all those tourists that heavily occupy the sights and the area around them. The other day we visited the Jewish Museum of Moscow. We learned a lot – not only about the Jewish, but also the Russian history. It was absolutely worth visiting the museum.

Moscow Tesla Club

There are about 300 Teslas in Russia. Many of them were resold by the Moscow Tesla Club. Tesla is not officially present in Russia yet. A team around Igor and Alexey established a great store around Tesla and Electric Vehicles (the team also distributes EV worldwide), as well as their own “service center”. One could feel the enthusiasm everyone had at the Moscow Tesla Club. We loved talking to Igor and exchanging stories of our journey and experiences with EVs together.

After a while being a Belgium couple appeared in the store. They traveled to Moscow by Tesla as well (they took a more direct root than we did, though). It was fantastic seeing another frunk, stuffed with cables and adapters. Sharing charging stories and other nerdy EV-talk was fun. It is special to us, if we aren’t the one who explain how everything works and what kind of UFO we travel with, but if the other side understands and can even give us advice.

First Supercharger since 3.5 month!

The Moscow Tesla Club helped to set up a Supercharger close to Moscow’s city border. Of course, it’s situated at a very posh golf club. We wouldn’t be the average Tesla driver in Russia. Usually a Tesla owner in Russia owns also 5 other expensive cars and has no idea where else to spend its money… anyways, we’re super excited to see for charging booths (3 European and 1 American – a combination of these charging facilities doesn’t exist anywhere else on the world).

We plugged in and the wires that weren’t exposed to anything more than 22kW for almost 4 months took the 90kW that this Superchager provided, very well. It will take us three to four more weeks until we’ll reach the next supercharger in Poland. We love the convenience of supercharging a lot (especially while travelling). I guess our journey really taught us to appreciate this comfort way more actively.

outlet/socket Volt Ampere kW kWh
Supercharger 88 kW 60 kWh

Charging in Vladimir, Russia

Schuko-Charging at our Airbnb

Charging at a 220V and 2 kW Schuko is usually our second choice. Even though it’s much more widely available (and easier to ask for), charging with only one phase takes much, much longer. If the car needs to be parked for a very long time at one single spot, we can’t take it anywhere. Due to our reduction in flexibility, we always prefer fast charging at a three-phase connection.

I am sure we could have found a CEE-outlet in Vladimir . An Airbnb host offered us to let us charge at a Schuko in the backyard of the house that we could rent an apartment in. That sounded brilliant! With an offer like that and the knowledge that we stay more than 48 hours at a city, we don’t mind Schuko charging. The only obstacle we had were the other inhabitants of the house. Especially an older lady was very skeptical about the Tesla. When we parked it a bit further away (and she didn’t really see it from her window anymore) and rolled out our extension cable, she was fine.

Just being tourists in Vladimir & Suzdal

Vladimir, as well as Suzdal, the city that we visited on our second day, are part of the Golden Ring of ancient Russian cities. Vladimir used to be the medieval capital of Russia.  It’s a bit more industrial than its neighboring city, Suzdal, tough. Suzdal appears like an open-air museum considering the amount of old buildings that have been preserved and the lack of industrialization (missing any Soviet style flat buildings). We enjoyed strolling through both of these cities!

outlet/socket Volt Ampere kW kWh
Schuko 220 volt 1 * 8-10 amperes 2 kW 50 kWh

Charging in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia

Strong wind and our strategy against it

We left Kazan with 97% of the battery charged. For some unknown reason, we couldn’t charge until 100%. Kazan and our next destination, Nizhny Novgorod, were more than 380 km apart. We did distances like that before. But this time, we knew from the weather forecast that we’ll have strong headwinds. Wind majorly affects how much energy the Tesla needs.

We were relaxed anyways. Unlike during other long distances that we did before (see for example Ashgabat to Mary or Almaty to Balkhash), we knew this time that there is at least one city and a few villages along the 380 km. In the case of an emergency, we could have recharged there. Our technique was however to drive slowly (around 70 km/h) and behind large trucks (wind shadow zone). It worked out and we reached Nizhny Novgorod after 5 tiring hours of driving with about 18% in our battery left.

Schuko charging at hotel

I contacted hotels in Nizhny Novgorod before we arrived there. I received two answers. One of them told us, it would be too dangerous to let us charge. By accident we walked past this hotel and saw a large, modern CEE-32 in front of their entrance door. It isn’t dangerous at all to charge there. Sometimes it is really frustrating how uneducated people are about EVs. I always tell them precisely that we can make everything possible, that we can charge anywhere where they can charge their phone (in case we have enough time for Schuko-charging) and that this already worked out the past 18.000 km. Still, we get answers like “ohhh, we don’t have many EVs here – I don’t think you can charge in our city”. Oh, well…

The second hotel offered us a Schuko right in front of their entrance door. Since we wanted to stay in Nizhny Novgorod for 2 nights anyways, a slow charge via Schuko wasn’t a problem at all. Thanks to them for their offer!

We enjoyed an entire tourist day in the beautiful city of Nizhny Novogrod.

outlet/socket Volt Ampere kW kWh
Schuko 220 volt 1 * 14 amperes 3 kW 50 kWh

Charging in Kazan, Russia

Airbnb in Kazan

We had times throughout our journey where we wished Airbnb would be available (it didn’t exist in any country between Armenia and Russia). It’s a different feeling having an apartment or house to yourself, with no reception desk that you need to walk by every time you leave the house. We were therefore happy that we found a nice Airbnb home in Kazan. Kazan is the capital of the republic of Tartastan. The region has it’s own language and the majority of Tartans are Sunni Muslims.

The parents of our Airbnb host (who was herself in Moscow) welcomed us. Right after we entered the house we saw a red CEE-32 outlet. What a surprise! Just like Airbnb, there were no red CEE outlets between Armenia and Russia.

Meeting Arthur and Regina

On our way to Kazan, a car stopped next to us while we took a short break on the side of the road. We met Arthur. He was traveling for work and has seen an Instagram post by the hotel that we stayed at in Naberezhnye Chelny. He told us that he first thought it’s a joke, what the hotel posted. But latest when he met us, he knew it wasn’t.

We met with Arthur and his wife Regina later the evening in Kazan. They tried to help us to get a charging station next to Arthur’s workplace to work. It didn’t really work out… and took them 24 hours to make it work. I guess, not so many electric vehicles try to charge there. For us, it was the first real charging station since Georgia. It already felt create that people at least intend to build up an infrastructure for charging EVs in Kazan.

We spent the rest of the evening walking through the gorgeous Kazan, with its Kremlin, waterfront and many old buildings. The city of Kazan has a great atmosphere.

Charging attempts

The charging station that I just mentioned, was our charging attempt #2. Charging attempt #1 was at a basement parking of a mall in Kazan. Only after a long search we found the charging station, that was a.) fully occupied with combustion engines, b.) wasn’t working and c.) seemed to be that badly wired that hardly the supposed 22kW would be possible to charge there.

Charging attempt #3 was at a different mall basement parking. The parking garage was equipped with quite a few CEE-32 outlets. But again here, the wiring was bad. When we raised the ampere number above 20, the voltage dropped dramatically. We only had a few minutes to try this out. After that the security came and told us to stop charging. I guess, no EV friendly or customer oriented crowd in that shopping mall.

Charging attempt #4 was at the Airbnb home. We could use the above mentioned red CEE-32. Except that we lost about 10%, charging worked out perfectly.

outlet/socket Volt Ampere kW kWh
CEE-32 outlet 230 volt 3 * 10 amperes
(later 3 * 20 amperes)
7 kW 50 kWh

Charging in Naberezhnye Chelny, Russia

Naberezhnye Chelny in the republic of Tartastan

Some Russian city names are super easy (like Ufa), some are extremely hard to pronounce (and remember) – like Naberezhnye Chelny. Even though we always received puzzled faces, if we tried to tell a Russian what our next stop is, we found our way to the city. The car needed to charge and so did we.

Naberezhnye Chelny is situated in the (almost) independent republic of Tartastan. A big road sign indicated our entry into the Tartastan. I guess, we really noticed that we crossed a republic border in the Russian federation, when the time on our cellphones was minus two hours. Tartastan already has Moscow times (UTC +3) and are only one hour ahead of the German time.

Easy charging at a hotel

I wrote a few emails to hotels in before we got there. One of them was so friendly to answer and after a few emails forth and back trying to explain what we need, they gave us green light. Two janitors helped Benedikt to set up our charging at the transformer of the hotel. Like always, we connected the three phases and the neutral connection to the according fuses. The connection was very stable, but we charged with only 10 amperes (on all three phases), since the car could charge the whole night long (and should be as little time as possible fully charged).

With a nicely charged car we left in the morning to continue our drive to Kazan. The capital of the Tartastan republic.

outlet/socket Volt Ampere kW kWh
fuse-box 230 volt 3 * 10 amperes 7 kW 40 kWh

Charging in Ufa, Russia

It’s (sometimes) good to be the second

Usually we are always the first electric vehicle approaching a hotel or workshop with the unusual question if the place has three-phase electricity for us and if we can charge our car with it. It is very enjoyable to sometimes not be the first one. That’s why we followed the charging advice (in a hotel) of our friends from NoMiEV, who also went through Ufa on their 80 days around the world (80-E-days).

Charging in the hotel kitchen

A well-maintained hotel in Ufa could offer us a three-phase fuse-box based in their hotel kitchen. The first fuses, we tried to put our open-adapter on, had too much other stuff running on them. They blew immediately. The second ones we tried, worked out. We charged the car with 16 amperes on three phases.

I need to mention at this point that the most valuable equipment that we have with us is our NRGKick. It let’s  us charge without a ground connector (very common not to find one anywhere outside Europe). It lets us exactly adapt the current (ampere) that we want to charge with (sometimes due to bad wires very necessary). Lastly everything is controllable via our smartphone, since the NRGKick can connect to bluetooth. We love that thing and our journey wouldn’t work without it!

When we returned later the evening to our Tesla, the car was already charged at 100%. Since it is not good for the battery to stay fully-charged overnight, Benedikt cruised through the city for about one hour and enjoyed the Russian “night live”.



outlet/socket Volt Ampere kW kWh
fuse box 230 volt 3 times 20 16 kW 40 kWh

Charging in Zyuratkul National Park, Russia

Resting and hiking

Half way between Chelyabinsk and Ufa there is the Zyuratkul national park with lakes and mountains of the Ural mountain chain. We were looking forward to having some quite time and a nice hike there. Since there was no internet reception and no Wi-Fi at the place that we stayed at, we got our resting time. On the second day at the Zyuratkul National Park, I did a long hike on a neat peak. The hiking trail was nicely maintained (something we never really had during our journey) and the view from the top was great.

Charging in the middle of nowhere

We stayed at a “cabin-resort” with many small huts that you could rent. To charge the car, we only needed a Schuko-outlet, since we stayed long enough at the resort. The security hut at the entrance offered us what we needed (even though they needed to be convinced at first – a local who understood our problem told them they shouldn’t be fools and let the guests from Switzerland charge). The Tesla was charging there with 10 amperes on one phase for about 20 hours.

The biggest gastronomic disappointment

The whole experience at the Zyuratkul National Park was great. We stayed at a very nice, newly build wooden cabin. The national park itself is beautiful. But we got deeply disappointed with a restaurant in the resort where we tried to have dinner – once. It was the worst dinner of our entire journey. We didn’t receive our ordered drinks until after food was served. When the waiter brought Benedikt a plate with three bones and with a little meat on them that cost double as much as what you usually pay at a Russian restaurant, we thought this is a big joke. The waiter asked when we had that bone-plate on the table, if Benedikt wouldn’t like any side dishes. Couldn’t he have thought of that before? Since I had a plate with fried potatoes (that were covered with yellowish oil) we shared that and were happy to leave the place little later. During our whole journey, we never got disappointed that much by a restaurant. I guess the only good thing was that none of us got diarrhea afterwards…

outlet/socket Volt Ampere kW kWh
Schuko 220 volt 1 * 10 amperes 2 kW 40 kWh