Julie and Romain’s life project was to go on vacation while being light on the environment and strengthening family ties. By installing a tent on the roof of their Tesla Model 3, they were able to wake up each morning in a small corner of enchanting nature.
Getting out of an unsatisfactory situation
At the beginning of 2022, the mobility of Julie and Romain’s family was provided by Peugeot 5008 and 207. Today, their 2.0 fleet is made up of a Tesla Model 3 Propulsion and a electric-assisted longtail cargo bike Decathlon on which they sometimes embark all 4, counting their children of 8 and 4 years old.
However, the 35-year-old father’s interest in electrics goes back much further: ” In the early 2010s, I inquired about the Peugeot iOn. However, the dealership’s sales advisor was not well equipped to answer my questions. In addition it was a rental when I wanted to buy the car ».
More than ten years later, the couple, made up of a naturopathic reflexologist and a change management manager for an international group, wanted to get out of a process that did not suit them: ” I had a company car that I had to change every two years. It’s not really eco-friendly! I had to choose from a rather frustrating list in terms of engines and equipment. My Peugeot 5008, for example, was the one with the undersized engine, so a lack of pick-up, noise and relatively high consumption ».
Romain’s company has started to add electric to its list: ” This was in the context of the evolution of its CSR policy. But I could only receive a Peugeot e-208 that was not very suitable for my travels. To recharge, I absolutely had to go through the Total terminals. If, for example, I plugged in the car at home, the electricity was not reimbursed. There was also the possibility of taking a Toyota Rav4, but I didn’t want a hybrid ».
Our reader therefore made an agreement with his company: “ I traded the possibility of having a company car for a bonus. Even if the latter did not cover all the costs, I preferred to benefit from the flexibility of this formula. In the process, in February 2022, I booked a test drive of the Model 3 at Tesla Nantes. ».
He did not go with his wife there: “ I was with my brother-in-law. Following the test, we each ordered a Model 3. Back home in Tours, Julie was amazed at this speed. Without really being completely, since the trip to Tesla was intended to validate our choice. This precipitation was beneficial for us, because we received our sedan at 37,000 euros bonus deducted. The next day, the list price of this car took 5,000 euros ».
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The delay to receive the Tesla Model 3 was unbearably long: “ Delivery was gradually delayed until the end of December. As compensation, and to encourage affected customers to collect the car before the end of 2022, the manufacturer offered 10,000 kilometers of free access to superchargers. The car and this top-up credit was like a Christmas present, a few days before this big holiday. We had the idea to take advantage of it by imagining a trip to Norway ».
The initial project has expanded: Initially, we wanted to visit friends settled in Bergen who had just welcomed their first child. With Julie, we have already traveled quite a bit. For our children, we wanted to do it differently, by moderating the footprint of our travels on the environment, and by strengthening family ties. ».
An idea quickly took hold: We wanted to find the same spirit of freedom as with a van. We thought of a roof tent, although we are not camping enthusiasts. I searched for information on the Internet, but no trace of a Model 3 so equipped. It must have been possible since Tesla sells bars to receive a trunk at the top of the car ».
We still had to find a suitable tent model: “ That was not easy and the choice was limited. Within our constraints: mn model for 4 people, and not exceeding the 68 kilos imposed by the flexible bars while driving. The iKamper X-Cover 2.0 model ticked all the boxes. It supports 400 kg, but the roof bars limit the weight to 250 kg. When the four of us are in the single room of 2.20 x 1.80 m, the total load is around 220 kg ».
Received in March 2023, the roof tent launched the preparation operations that the little family immortalized in a series of videos collected on their Youtube channel Les P’tits chalets : « What gave the idea for this space were the 150 or 200 comments that I quickly found on our Facebook page by posting a photo of the set. We had never had so many. We created our Youtube channel with the desire to share about long trips by electric car, especially abroad, and about charging ».
Small and large adjustments had to be made. Thus by grinding the fixing brackets of the tent so as not to damage the glass roof of the Model 3, but also by transforming the rear trunk into a camping box: “ Without tailgate, with levels not everywhere identical, and a fairly narrow threshold, it was not easy ».
It is with his father that Romain will work the 15 mm plywood panels. The correct horizontality of the 1.03 x 0.47 m storage box was achieved thanks to height-adjustable feet. Offering a 1.22 m long worktop for preparing the meal, the home-made sliding structure layout cost just under 200 euros. Kitchen equipment finds space in compartments 25 cm high.
A journey of more than 5,500 km
« Between July 8 and August 1, 2023, we traveled exactly 5,523 km by car, not counting the portions made by ferry, in particular to go from northern Denmark to southern Norway. From Tours, we went up to the middle of this Scandinavian country. We were able to sleep at the foot of the fjords, hearing the animals in the evening. The places where we stopped served as large gardens “reviews Romain.
« The kids loved the tent which made them like a cabin. They climbed in to play and read stories. The floor is lined with comfortable 7 cm thick mattresses. The tent on a plywood panel unfolds in two, the telescopic ladder serving as a support for the kind of awning thus obtained. We couldn’t stand under it because the Model 3 is low “, he testifies.
Which is a lesser problem for him: It would indeed be better with a Tesla Model Y. But at least, at no more than 1.85 m in height with the tent folded over the sedan, you can go everywhere, even when bars have been installed to prevent access to vans and motorhomes. By never exceeding 110 km/h to spare the roof of the car and the load on the bars, we recorded an average consumption of 16.6 kWh. We only plugged in the Model 3 at Tesla stations to take advantage of our 10,000 km charging credit ».
Fears and constraints
If the enthusiasm is very present now that the first long trip with their electric car is over, Romain confides his few fears before the departure: “ We wanted to test our bedding solution before hitting the roads of Scandinavia. From the first laps, we wondered if the hooks would hold, if the roof was not going to break. We heard noises we never knew before ».
Once the tent was set up, other questions arose: Already weather resistance. Deployed when stationary, the X-Cover 2.0 is normally able to withstand winds up to 120 km/h. It is covered with a waterproof canvas that can be removed. In May, during a short trip, we preferred to leave when a storm appeared. We were under a tree climbing course with trees and wire ropes overhead. What about exposure to lightning when you’re in a tent on top of a car? ».
In Norway, it was the rain that was the problem: ” We had it every day. To prepare the meal, it is then complicated. We are not going to cook in the car or in the tent. A second could serve that purpose, but where could we put it while rolling in an already crowded space? There, we would have seen each other in a Tesla van. On the other hand, with our warm duvets, we never felt cold, even at -2° C outside. ».
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Heading for Corsica in October
Apart from the beautiful images of landscapes that remain in the memory, it is the effects produced by the trip to Norway on the children that give Julie and Romain great satisfaction: “ We lived happy moments all together to learn about life. The children got involved, for example by helping to unload the trunk or by collecting pieces of wood to make a fire. There really is a before and an after concerning them. Without major opposition, it was previously every man for himself. They learned to be there for each other ».
During the stops, the little family created astonishment: ” Motorhomes came to meet us. They were mainly Danes, Germans and French. In France, it was during visits to superchargers that we intrigued other Teslaists, less so in Norway where you see electric cars everywhere, especially from the American brand. Over there, a Model 3 is like a Renault Clio at home ».
Julie and Romain have already imagined other travel plans: ” This time, we will seek the sun in Corsica. It will be in October over 10 days. Then it could be in Switzerland, or in northern Italy. Since the end of last December, we have already covered a total of 16,500 km with our electric car ».
Automobile Propre and I thank Romain very much for his responsiveness, his telephone reception and his very interesting testimony.
A few months ago, I thought we were going to wrap up pretty quickly on recurring testimonials. Error. Each new interview brings something new or something different.
The explanation is ultimately very simple: Electric cars now appeal to a very wide range of motorists. Including enthusiasts of mechanics and the sound of engines.
When some media headline about the difficulties of going on vacation in an EV or about electromobilists who would regret having switched to sustainable mobility, at Automobile Propre, our readers testify to the contrary. Find the mistake !
Beyond the electric car adventure, what touched me in Romain’s testimony is the place he wants to give to his wife, and the importance he attaches to good understanding between his two children. Roman: Hats off!