EV Charging in Finland: Skiing Trip to Ruka with Tesla and Night Train

September 6, 2023 2 min read

Arctic skiing trips to Ruka in Finnish Lapland have been part of our winter plans for a few years. When we got our Tesla Model X, there were zero doubts about whether we should take our new ride out for an adventure.

*As a disclaimer, our trip happened in 2021, so there have been some improvements in the infrastructure.

But first, hello, I'm Anna-Liisa, the CMO at VOOL, and this is what I experienced during our last road trip to Lapland.

Tesla Model X is not built for the Arctic climate

It's hard not to turn this post into a Tesla review. But let me say quickly - Model X is not built for arctic conditions. It gets so cold!

The temperatures dropped to -32 degrees Celsius, and the glass surfaces didn't allow the car to heat up properly, so we had to wear our winter jackets during the drive and were still not convinced it was warm enough.

Learning No. 2: The Falcon doors don't make the best skiing equipment carrier pals. They are good in all other situations, like in fully packed parking lots, but not so handy for placing a ski box on the roof. Tesla does sell a separate snowboard carrier, but we didn't want to buy it as we were unsure how long we'd stick to this model. Also, the seats don't fold down in the second row, so forget about lowering the middle seat for the skis.

Learning No. 3: The drive is long, but the sound system is good. We took this free time to catch up with our Podcast list.

Take Your Electric Car to the Arctics, and the Temperature Won't Be the Only Thing That Drops

Electric vehicle batteries are pretty sensitive to colder temperatures. So sensitive that it actually got me scared. It happened when the range showed 0 km; it was dark, cold, and lonely, and we still had some km to go. Luckily, the battery stayed with us, and we could literally roll to our Airbnb's backyard. Oh boy, were we happy!

But how quickly does the electric vehicle battery drop in the blistering cold? Based on our Finnish experience, I'd say it is a safe bet to count on 2/3 of what the car display shows. It showed us 300 km in Rovaniemi, and we could drive approximately 200 km. It's the 100 km you wouldn't want to miscalculate.

Zero range and 100% range anxiety

It's not that we didn't want to charge or didn't look for chargers. We did, and we found. But not too many friendly ones.


EV charging stations on the road

We left Tallinn with a full battery. At home, we use the Vool charger - tested and highly recommended 22 kW wallbox. Tallinn-Helsinki ferries didn't have any EV chargers back then and don't have any now, so we couldn't get back the few kilometres we had spent. But that's not an issue as it is approx 10 km from our home to the port (making the range drop more like 30 km due to the cold weather).

Our preferred way to reach the Finnish Lapland is by train. It is just so convenient - you'll take your car on the train (yes, you read it right), get a room and have a good horizontal sleep. You'll arrive in Rovaniemi early in the morning for a fresh day ahead.

Before getting on the night train, we planned to charge in Helsinki. We found two chargers (we didn't have that much time to look for more). One was missing a cable (90s coming back?), and another was out of order. We did want an adventure, and it looked like we were about to have one.

The night train

The car deck is not heated. So basically, you keep your EV outside all night, all while the temperatures drop. The same happens to the battery level. You might think the battery is mileage-sensitive, but it is just sensitive. To everything. Distance, speed, weather. Everything.

We needed to charge our car in Rovaniemi to ensure we'd make it to Ruka. And it's not like you go to the Santa's House and charge your car at the parking lot. It's more like you drop your family at Santa's House, find a charging station in some hidden part of the town, and patiently sit in your electric car and charge. It's a "joke" so well-heard by all the early EV adopters out there.

Charging at our Airbnb

So yes, we arrived at our Airbnb with zero range left and got exactly in front of the power socket to activate charging. Basically, we stayed plugged in whenever we were at our Ruka rental as we had the Mobile Connector charging cable that handled 2,5 kW. Worked well for our week-long stay and short distances between the Ruka ski resort, groceries and accommodation.

What would we do differently the next time?

Short research at home on public charging points in Finland might take away some stress. EV charging on the road is not yet as convenient as finding a gas station, but making this shift in mindset and showing the short- and overcomings of the charging network infrastructure will be one of the enablers of this much-needed change towards sustainable transportation.

About us

VOOL is the first complete EV charging solution making reliable, smart, and cost-efficient charging available for everyone. Affordable and hassle-free EV charging fastens the energy transition. VOOL means hardware and software made inhouse, flexible charging options for private users and businesses. You can save money with smart charging and earn money opening your chargers to other EV owners.

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EU funding
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 190136402. This publication reflects only the author’s views and the European Union is not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.