Charging an electric car in an emergency

The principle of hope works neither with combustion engines nor with electric cars. With both, if you set off with too little range left, you end up with a walk in the park. You can get a stinker moving again with a petrol canister, but what do I do with an electric vehicle?


We came back from the airport and I really wanted to take the Twizy home with me. My wife had left it at her mum’s house in Seeheim with 7 km of range left. Meanwhile, her mum drove her home with her luggage in her A2.

Our Rodius is in the workshop at Alex’s with a howling rear axle differential.

I sit in the Twizy and turn the ignition key: three bars. No problem, I’ll just charge it for a few minutes at the charging point round the corner and then drive back.

That reminds me: I bought a new phone the other day. This Google migration programme thingy had copied pictures and installed apps, but so far all the apps were without settings because they weren’t copied.

I start Mobility . Log in. Crap. I’m using generated passwords that nobody can remember. Oh, I’m really not in the mood for that right now. But what must be done, must be done. I’m just about to reset the password when my phone switches off. Three days in a row without intermediate charging and with the hotspot partially open take their toll.

But with three bars, I always just make it up. That’s twenty and a few crushed per cent. I set off.

Think again!

After just 50 metres, the third bar disappears. Oh boy! Still 19 % or 1.01 kWh in the battery. I have to drive economically. Easy to say, on an uphill country road. (6.4 kWh/100*90% SoH/100*19, got that?)

I creep up the road and it came as it had to: with 4 km remaining range, the electronics take away the power completely. What is still absolutely fine on flat roads is no longer fun on uphill stretches. I crawl up the hill at walking pace and look for the nearest safe place to park.

This is at a gas distributor. The gravel track of the access road is steep, I roll down, take the momentum with me and, after half a turn, roll backwards next to a pole with a kind of socket hanging from it.

It also has a URL. Cool.

Just using a socket without asking is stupid. The phone is empty. So I decide to walk the last 2.2 kilometres on foot. That does me some good.

I didn’t realise then that I would have to walk more than once.

On the way, I thought to myself what a stupid idea it was to risk breaking down. After all, you can’t just recharge an electric car with a spare canister!

Problem postponed

The car is safe. It can stay there for now. I decide to tackle the problem the next day. Charge the phone and sleep in.

The next day I walk back to the car. Enter the URL and realise that there is always a dead zone here. GSM speed. Great. The website doesn’t load.

I texted my wife because messengers also work at kbit speeds. Called the responsible office. Yes, they are responsible for the line plans. They don’t know if there’s a socket there. But if they were in my position, they would simply use the socket.

Hmmm, unsatisfactory. But okay, before this degenerates into an odyssey

I didn’t have a square spanner like that in my stash. But I took a small pair of needle-nose pliers with me. However, I realised that the screws could easily be loosened by hand, they were completely loose. And what I then saw ..

Keine Steckdose
No socket

WTF? What is that? I’m not plugging my Twizy into that. Is that a special socket? Is something broken off? A socket from the early 1950s? The distance is correct, but I can’t see a protective conductor. Creepy.

So I walk back again. That was a total of 6.6 kilometres. Great.

What’s that?

Back there the next day. With my multimeter. Hope dies last. And it died. Whatever it is, it doesn’t carry any alternating current. And now I can also see that the sockets are far too small for the Schuko plug pins. I should have realised that 4.4 kilometres ago.

Back home again. That’s a total of 11 kilometres. It’s far too warm and I’m afraid I’m suffering from long Covid because I’m extremely short of breath. Halfway along the route, Benny gives me a lift. I don’t want to get on at first, saying that I’m sweating profusely. But he insists. After a few metres, Benny opens the window. I had warned him.

Thick skinned!

I’m slowly getting fed up.

My options are:

  • Buy a generator. How did that turn out? CLICK
  • Hire a generator. I need another car for this.
  • To sell the Twizy. Let the buyer take care of it. I really thought of that!


There is a hire shop for PA equipment in Pfungstadt. They also have inverter generators. Costs 50 EUR per day. Petrol is included. A fair price. Buying and filling a petrol can at the petrol station is not significantly cheaper.

We borrow the A2 from my mother-in-law and get the generator. We use it to charge the Twizy, which works without any problems.

Twizy Notstrromgenerator
Twizy emergency power generator
Twizy Notstrromgenerator
Twizy emergency power generator
Twizy Notstrromgenerator
Twizy emergency power generator

But only for twenty minutes. The plan is to drive the Twizy to Seeheim and charge it there while we bring the generator back and then go shopping.

You’re not allowed to tip the generator and it’s too big to fit easily in the back of the Twizy when it’s lying down. So throwing the generator and me out there, filling up the Twizy on site and bringing the generator back with the Twizy is not an option.

Charging station 1

I look at the Mobiity app: yes, the next charging station, the one at the Bürgerhalle, has a free space.

At the arse! When we arrive, it’s completely full! There’s always, really always, a car-sharing Zoe and an A-Class parked there. None of the vehicles are being charged. As always. I curse loudly. The blocking fees are still too low!

Charging station 2

But I can’t charge my Twizy at our local Aldi. The thing doesn’t allow single-phase charging. So off to the next 11 kW charging point. It’s at the swimming pool in Jugenheim. The app says there should be a free space there.

Angeblich freie Ladesäule
Allegedly free charging station


Ladesäule belegt
Charging station occupied

Both spaces occupied and both charging too! WTF? I almost go crazy and give the Rumpelstiltskin in the car park!

Charging station 3

Looked in the app: 500 metres further on is the next charging station. The one by the tram stop. Both free too. Funny, there’s always a car-sharing car standing there with its tyres flat.

As I’m writing this, I’m wondering whether I could simply hire one of these on an ad hoc basis, drive away from the charging point and then park myself there. Can’t cost the earth. One hour, zero kilometres.

Well, when I arrive at the tram stop, I can hardly believe my luck: Both seats are free! Hurrrrrrraaaaahhh!

Plug in, app out. Clicked on the location symbol and … what? Where’s the charging station? It was still there two minutes ago!

Zoom out. It’s supposed to be 100 metres further out of town? But there’s nothing there. Nothing at all. There’s a field. That’s before the town sign. Anyway, I start the charging process.

„Technical error“

Argh! NO! NO! NO! I really only have a handful of electrons left in my battery! This can’t be true!

I call the hotline and describe the problem. The woman kindly wants to activate the charging station for me remotely.

I can hear her typing and her frown. „The charging station is not communicating! It can’t be reached! Not even the second port!“.

Uaaaaargh! Germany and digitalisation! The app shows occupied and broken charging points as free!

But we still have the generator in the boot of the A2. It’s too noisy for my wife here on the main road. We drive back to the car park by the swimming pool. Maybe there really is a free charge point?

Charging station 2 again

No, of course it’s still occupied. So we unpack the generator and charge the Twizy for 40 minutes. That should get me home again.

What a sight! I’m charging an electric car next to a charging point with a roaring generator that emits clouds of petrol! It could hardly be more absurd.

Mobile Ladesäule
Mobile charging station

Snack bar

But now we’re hungry. Of course, everything took much longer than planned. The next snack bar is Ali Baba 3, but when we get there we realise that it’s gone too. WTF?

Yes, it’s now called Meli.

The food is much better than before! Top!

They’ve also renovated. There are new benches. They even have the name embroidered on them. Noble. Ali Baba 3 is now called Meli and the benches are called Golden Fish?

Golden Fisch
Golden fish

Five-star restaurant? Golden Fis(c)h? Oh, that’s fine.

Wallet found!

There was a flea market round the corner in the Bürgerhalle Jugenheim, where we bought loads of cakes. Home-baked and very tasty. When we sat down, there was a child’s wallet:

Geldbeutel gefunden
Purse found

Purse? Yes, the people of southern Hesse call wallets „purses“.

Nobody from the organisers wanted to accept the purse, so we had to take it with us. An appeal in the usual Facebook groups was unsuccessful. But maybe someone reading this article knows the owner?

Afterwards, we took the generator back to the nice people at da-sound in Pfungstadt and went shopping.

Kofferraum Audi A2
Boot of the Audi A2

On the way back, my wife dropped off some shopping for her mum and I drove home.

Oh horror!

In the last S-bend before Ober Beerbach, the power suddenly drops completely. I switch on the hazard lights. What is it now? Could the electronics be crazy? Is the battery not as full as I thought? I know this from smartphones too. It shows 20% when charging, you unplug it and a few minutes later it’s down to five per cent!

That could be the case, because I’ve never driven the Twizy so blatantly empty, especially not under load.

After the bend, the road levelled out and the T recovered. But I continued to drive piano anyway and got home without any problems.

After a full charge, it drove normally again.


And the moral of the story?
Don’t drive your Twizy empty!

Suitable generator

I made the mistake of asking other customers on Amazon whether a generator was suitable for charging. That almost fried the Twizy, because only boomers replied. And now? Which generator can be used to charge a Twizy?

Inexpensive: GNR.3050 | 2,800 W | Inverter generator

Good: Hyundai HY3200SEi D, inverter, 3,200 watts (rated output 2,800 watts)

The Twizy requires 230 volts and 10 A charging current, i.e. 2,300 watts or 2.3 kW. As a generator should not be operated at its limit for long periods of time, a small buffer (500 watts in this case) is a good idea.

A generator should also not have to run forever: five to six hours is usually specified as the maximum duration.

The consumption is < 500 g/kWh. With a five-litre tank, you can pump around 10 kWh into the car’s battery, which corresponds to a range of approx

  • 66 km

… assuming an average of 15 kWh/100 km. The Twizy only needs just under half that amount of electricity.

Pro tip: Simply hire such a device for a few euros from a provider in your neighbourhood.

Saving tip: With an OVMS or a similar ODB-II device, you can greatly reduce the charging power of the Twizy. This should also be possible with many other electric cars if you cannot change this with on-board equipment, as the OVMS was originally developed for Tesla vehicles.

Suitable power station

Of course, you can also buy a power station with a battery. However, this is considerably more expensive, larger and heavier. The capacity is also significantly lower. However, you can also use such a power station primarily as a solar storage unit at home and as a mobile storage unit in an emergency.

Slow charging: Anker SOLIX F2000 portable power station, 2048 Wh with 2,300 W AC output

Charge faster: Powerstation 3840 Wh, ECO PLAY with 3,600 W

Disregarding the charging losses, you won’t get too far with the capacity from one of the linked storage units. However, with an average consumption of 15 kW/100 km, you can still manage

  • 13 kilometres (2 kWh)
  • 26 kilometres (4 kWh)

That’s at least enough to get to the next charging point.

And how do I charge a „real“ electric car?

With a Schuko adapter, which is supplied with the vehicle or can be purchased as an accessory. In principle, electric cars should not draw more than the 10 amps mentioned from a household socket, as Schuko sockets are not designed for a continuous load of 16 amps. If the plug and socket are outdated, charging an electric car using them is not possible anyway.

Food for thought: Do you want to leave a kettle running unattended for hours on end? Of course not! But that shouldn’t be a problem with an electric car?

Set your Schuko adapter to a maximum of 10 A and use one of the generators mentioned above or a power station.

If you want to charge your vehicle with the maximum possible 16 amps, you are literally playing with fire. It is not for nothing that Renault reduced the charging capacity from 2.8 kW (12 A) to 2.3 kW (10 A) in the first months of production. Reality has shown that commercially available outdoor sockets that have been in use for years can no longer deliver this charging power permanently without burning out.

Hand on heart: I’ve only ever run an extension cable through the garage door. I once touched a terminal of the Twizy plug when disconnecting it and was shocked at how hot it was! At „only“ 10 amps!

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