The family celebration begins at 14 p.m. with a church service. We take a lot of time for the long journey in an electric car and plan plenty of reserves. But once again, everything turns out differently. The planned route via the motorway with many fast-charging stations along the way is suddenly no longer an option after an accident with road closure and kilometre-long traffic jams. We take the country road.

Michael Spehr

Editor in the "Technology and Engine" department.

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There are charging stations here and there, but none of them can do it quickly. So we are forced to take risks. There is a single fast-charging station just before entering the motorway again, behind the long traffic jam. But we will only get there with minimal remaining range. Only if we can fast charge there, we are on time. If not, things look bleak.

The gas station that has finally been reached also looks gloomy. It's hard to find, a dark corner in an industrial area. You don't want to or have to stop here at night. The fact that all three charging points are free is hopefully not a bad omen. And then, once again, a loading drama begins as it is written in the book: loading error, abortion of the charging process, authentication error. In the charging app, charging is progressing, although it hasn't even started.

End the charging process, plug the charging plug back into the station, play the same game at the second charging point, repark the vehicle in order to reach the third after another failure. There are also only error messages. After 10, 15 minutes, the realization that there is no electricity here and now at this station. What is the alternative? Drive to a lame AC station with the few remaining kilometers, refuel there for an hour to get to the nearest fast charger? Timely arrival is therefore excluded.

The car has been giving freedom and independence for 100 years. It stands for the possibility of being able to leave at any time, in the literal sense of the word. Now, however, careful planning and careful driving are the order of the day. The inadequacies of the technology are paid for with huge time buffers.

If circumstances suddenly change, if the temperature changes to sub-zero degrees and consumption skyrockets, or if you have to drive on motorways beyond the fast-charging network, if you have to take long detours due to traffic jams and disruptions, then you suddenly get into trouble. Individual, free mobility is decoupled from the resources that one personally reserves and has acquired at great expense. Just a moment of frustration, everything will be fine?

You can spend 100,000 euros on the best electric car in the world and still be stranded helplessly in the middle of nowhere. Sometimes it feels as if the idea of the free citizen is already there. And the free ride will be the next victim.