Being able to ship your electric vehicle up the California coast or down the Eastern Seaboard for summer vacation for free isn't exactly an option for us Americans, but the French can sure brag about doing something similar.

Nissan struck a deal with French rail company SNCF that allows Parisians headed to the South of France to bring their Leaf EVs along for the ride at no cost. Nissan also says there are about 10 quick-charge stations in the southern region for anyone who's managed to translate "range anxiety" into French.

Families of four that pay their 235 euros ($310) for the Paris-to-Nice round trip on the SNCF Auto-Train can bring their Leaf vehicles to the Bercy train station, get the cars fully recharged and board put them on a train for the six-hour overnight trip. Nissan estimates that a similar trip by road runs about 325 euros and takes about nine hours.

Check out Nissan's press release below.
Show full PR text
NISSAN LEAF: THE ELECTRIC VEHICLE WITH AN 800 KM RANGE

Partnership with French rail firm SNCF means owners can take their zero emissions LEAF on vacation to the French Riviera... for free

ROLLE, Switzerland (14 June 2013) - If you thought Paris to the South of France in an electric vehicle on just one charge could not be done, think again.

Thanks to an innovative partnership between Nissan and French national rail company SNCF, Nissan LEAF drivers can take their car on vacation without worrying about battery range, motorway tolls or the stress of dealing with vacation traffic on a long journey.

The special EV partnership with SNCF's Auto-Train service means owners can drive their Nissan LEAF to the famous Bercy rail station in Paris where their car is fully charged at a Nissan-installed Quick Charger before being loaded on a train for the overnight journey south.

Pierre Boutin, Managing Director Nissan France, said: "The Auto-Train service is a perfect stress-free way to see France and the rest of Europe. Not only do you avoid motorway tolls and holiday traffic but can also enjoy the benefits of a comfortable and quick journey on the TGV.

"Our partnership with SNCF not only gives people the freedom to take their beloved Nissan LEAF on holiday, but has the potential to change the way we travel to our holiday destinations in the future. With a pan-European network of Quick Chargers offering free charging before any journey, the sustainable vacation possibilities are limitless."

LEAF owners using the SNCF Auto-Train are entitled to one completely free return journey and a 30 per cent discount on all other SNCF trips. Complimentary battery top-ups are also offered to service users. The charge terminal, provided by Nissan, is part of its network deployment of 40 Quick Chargers in France and 400 pan-European locations.

A return TGV journey between Paris and Nice for a family of four costs around €235* (including discount) with the car going free and taking around six hours each way.

To make the same return trip by road in a conventional diesel-powered family car would cost about €350 - €200 in fuel and €150 in tolls**- and would take around nine hours in each direction. Travelling by train also means LEAF drivers and their passengers have an extra €115 to spend while on their vacation.

Having made their own way down to the sun, either via a daytime TGV or an overnight sleeper or couchette, the owners will be reunited with their LEAF, which will be ready for a zero emission exploration of the French Riviera.

Recharging the LEAF once in the south is equally stress-free. There are already 10 Quick Chargers installed in the area, at Nissan dealers or in towns such as St Remy de Provence and Avignon. And drivers using the autoroute can recharge their EV at any AVIA fuel station on the A8.

The Auto-Train service links Paris with a number of European destinations including Nice, Geneva, Avignon, Biarritz, Marseille, Tarbes, Narbonne, St Raphael, Toulon and Toulouse. Other European Motorail service destinations include Alessandria and Livorno in Italy, Düsseldorf in Germany and Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 25 Comments
      ElectricAvenue
      • 4 Months Ago
      It's an interesting option, especially since the train itself is electric, but surely renting a car at the destination makes more sense from an energy efficiency perspective!
      Nissan Leaf
      • 4 Months Ago
      Two things are cool about this-- the fact that it is free for the Leaf AND the fact that they have car trains at all-- Car trains are something I would like to see in the US, they make long distance road trips much more comfortable and more energy efficient.
      DaveMart
      • 4 Months Ago
      This may not interest American readers, but cars like the Zoe are not only around the same price as the diesel alternative, with the leased battery offsetting some of the savings on fuel prices, but in the UK at least around 50% of new cars are company vehicles. Those are taxed as a benefit in kind with assumed proportions for work and personal use for the people who get them from the firm, as is the fuel if they are allowed to charge it to the company. So the personal pay packets of quite a few company car drivers can benefit if they chose an electric car, as BEVs are zero rated and PHEVs pay a reduced amount: http://evfleetworld.co.uk/newcar/companycar/taxcalc/g5calc.cfm?clk=438&userID=70321085&userIsTemp=true&source=car&carAlreadySaved=431218&id=140010 Take no notice of the P11D price of the Zoe, which is not what is paid, but a value which looks like it excludes the subsidy and includes an assumed value for the leased battery. The sales price is a bit less than the diesel Clio I chose for comparison. The bottom line is that company car drivers who specify a Zoe will be somewhere around £1-2,000 better off a year in their pay packets, depending on how high their income is and hence how high their tax rate is.
        EVSUPERHERO
        • 4 Months Ago
        @DaveMart
        Bite your tong David Martin, of course we Americans want to know what you limey's are doing.
      DaveMart
      • 4 Months Ago
      This could be important for the uptake of electric vehicles in France, where the cities clear out once a year and people head off for several weeks on 'Le Grande Vacance'. Quite a lot of people may have thought that an electric car would be nice otherwise, but not for that use. Since everyone else is off more or less at the same time, hiring a car may not be that easy, although I do not have personal experience to verify this. Of course, not everyone goes to Nice and Provence, but its a start.
        EVSUPERHERO
        • 4 Months Ago
        @DaveMart
        The Frogs don't allow Limey's in their country during vacation. You go there during that time David Martin and you will be dealing with the French underground and if they don't get you their is always the French connection.
      Dave
      • 4 Months Ago
      http://money.msn.com/investing/americas-worst-corporate-air-polluters "The carbon club It's no surprise that the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide in the United States are coal-burning power generators. The Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst has released a new list, based on 2011 data, of the top 100 emitters of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The top three polluters on the list are, indeed, power companies. At a distant fourth is the U.S. government; this might seem odd at first glance, but Uncle Sam is the official owner of the power plants operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVC)."
      Letstakeawalk
      • 4 Months Ago
      True, it's not *free*, but it is an option. "Ride the Auto Train with Your Car The Auto Train transports you and your car (or your van, motorcycle, SUV, small boat, jet-ski or other recreational vehicle) nonstop from the Washington, DC area to sunny Florida, just outside of Orlando. This IS the best way to drive I-95. And remember, you can pack your car as if it were your suitcase. Save 900 Miles of Driving, Gasoline and Wear and Tear on Your Car But bring it with you! Leave the worries of long-distance driving behind. Onboard the Auto Train, you'll enjoy a stress-free journey by rail, skipping the traffic congestion on I-95. Put your feet up. Read a book. Take in the scenery. While you and your family travel in comfort, your vehicle rides along in an enclosed auto carrier. And now, our auto carriers offer even greater capacity to better accommodate your SUV or van." http://www.amtrak.com/auto-train
        Marcopolo
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        @ Letstakeawalk A very interesting example of using the US rail network. Many years ago, I was required to travel from Melbourne to Sydney in Australia, (1000 klm) once a fortnight, to attend a 9am meeting. Most of my Melbourne based colleagues were forced to rise early, at around 5 am in order to drive to the Melbourne airport, catch a plane, and then by taxi from Sydney airport to central Sydney in peak hour Friday morning traffic. This inevitably lead to executives being late, tired, dishevelled and turning in poor performances. The trip was also expensive, involving parking fees, taxis, and business class air travel, etc. Instead I caught the train from Melbourne at 8pm, Thursday evening, arriving at the Sydney terminal at 8.15. Since I booked one of the trains suite style cabins, I could dine at leisure, review my presentation, sleep in comport, (double bed) arise at a sensible hour, breakfast, shower etc, catch the urban underground train to the central city, arriving early for the meeting. My train compartment waited for me until it departed Friday evening at 8.30pm. Travelling by train, including meals, was cheaper ! ( I followed this routine for 7 months, until my promotion to London UK.) The idea of faster trains, with 'piggy backing' facilities is one than needs better investment and technology, especially for trucking. Cutting the amount of heavy vehicle use on highway, has huge potential benefits.
          Rotation
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Marcopolo
          While I love trains, they just aren't practical over long distances. They cannot compete with planes. Even in Europe, trains have lost enormous ground to planes, especially for trips over a few hundred miles.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Marcopolo
          "While I love trains, they just aren't practical over long distances. They cannot compete with planes. The environmental costs of air travel make it completely unsustainable. Trains are vastly cleaner, and the experience of travelling by train is generally much more pleasant. Better food, better accommodations, better views, and the ability to start/end in the middle of the city instead of having to take a taxi (or train, ironically) from the airport built on the outskirts of town. Also, the specific benefit of being able to bring your car with you, as this article mentions and as any train can be easily configured to transport. Planes are indeed cheap - but that's because they are heavily subsidized by the governments. And returning to my original point - they are incredibly environmentally destructive. Air pollution, noise pollution, ground pollution, etc....
          Rotation
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Marcopolo
          I'm not referring to California. California is near ideal for high-speed rail. I'm referring to Europe. After deregulation of airlines, discount air carriers have added enormous business, and at the expense of rail. Including at the expense of high-speed rail. Look at Ryanair and Easyjet. More Europeans are flying to destinations within Europe than ever before, and that's coming at the expense of rail travel. The problem is, again, one of distances. Past a certain distance, the fact that a plane does 550mph and a high speed train is lucky to do 170mph really starts to add up. At several hundred miles the comparison becomes strained, as you approach 1,000 the train has an insurmountable obstacle to overcome. This is the problem and a reasonable person can understand it without complaining of lack of sources.
          Rotation
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Marcopolo
          DaveMart: You didn't find the actual figures. You found projections from 2003 for 2010 and 2020. And the projections show train travel falling from 62% of all passenger miles to 57% from 1999 to 2020. As to the latter part, it's good despite you calling me a liar, you agree with me. Over long distances, rail just can't compete. Rail becomes much slower and much more expensive for long trips.
          DaveMart
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Marcopolo
          @Rotation: Since I took the trouble to find the actual figures for train passenger miles in Europe to counter your suppositions, and linked them, it is somewhat annoying that you attempt to continue the same line of argument clearly without bothering to read the linked information. As shown, train passenger long distance miles are fairly stable as a percentage of all miles travelled. For truly long distances aircraft do better, but at distances of a few hundred kilometres the time taken getting to and from airports and checking in outweighs the time saved en route. That is why Europe has to continue to expand the network to maintain its share of long distance passenger miles. I could dig out the links to the actual break even point in kilometres between air and rail journeys for speed, but since you appear to ignore actual data in favour of repeating your prejudices it hardly seems worthwhile.
          Rotation
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Marcopolo
          Wow, did I do my math wrong there. Those projections show passenger miles of trains at 9.6% in 1999 and a projected rise to 10.1% in 2020. I was doing the passenger car figures. Air miles are rising from 20.4% to 27.5%.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Marcopolo
          It would be excellent if this were available for an East-West transit, coast to coast. I know it's an American tradition - that cross-country drive - but all of my friends who have done it also acknowledge if it weren't for *having* to drive the car to get it from one place to another, they likely wouldn't have done it.
          DaveMart
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Marcopolo
          @Rotation: I am not sure where you get the notion that trains can't compete with other transport modes, since you give no sources. To be sure, they need investment to make sure that speeds and convenience continue to increase, but that is true for other modes too. Page 6 here shows the position with and without extension of the high speed network in Europe: http://ec.europa.eu/transport/modes/rail/studies/doc/2003_passenger_trafic_2010_2020_en.pdf So it is not taking over the world, but remains a healthy contributor to transport, and reduces energy use and congestion considerably. Worldwide the rise of high speed trains in China is remarkable, with tens of thousands of kilometres laid and being laid by 2020 to give them a very extensive network indeed by that date. The US has ground to a halt in building high speed rail, but most other places have done so and it works just fine. Difficulties in California should not be generalised to problems elsewhere, where they have been overcome.
      Gary
      • 4 Months Ago
      there is nothing cool about it, it takes a TRAIN to move them .... more pollution than all those cars...
      Dave
      • 4 Months Ago
      "Nissan estimates that a similar trip by road runs about 325 euros and takes about nine hours." Its about 600 miles. 325 Euros ~ $425. $425 / 600 miles ~ 70 cents per mile. I suppose that with depreciation, maintenance, fuel, tax, insurance, etc., it may very well cost 70 cents per mile to operate a car in France.
        DaveMart
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Dave
        'To make the same return trip by road in a conventional diesel-powered family car would cost about €350 - €200 in fuel and €150 in tolls**' (PR)
        ElectricAvenue
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Dave
        About 1000 km at, let's say, 10 L / 100 km = 100 L of fuel. Round trip 200 L. Cost per litre in France (I have to believe what the web tells me, I'm not in France) is about 1.60 Euros per L. 200 * 1.6 = 320 Euros. 10 L/100 km is not terribly efficient (24 statute miles per US gallon), but there are cars that are worse. So, I think the estimate is not including depreciation, maintenance, insurance, etc. That is JUST the fuel cost.
          ElectricAvenue
          • 4 Months Ago
          @ElectricAvenue
          Doh. If you read the press release, it says right there: "about €350 - €200 in fuel and €150 in tolls". So the 350 Euros is on the high end of the fuel cost, and 200 Euros is on the low end, the latter corresponding to something like a Prius.
        Dave
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Dave
        Oops. Its a round trip price. So its only 35 cents per mile.
          Dave
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Dave
          This sounds like a better deal than battery swapping.
      DaveMart
      • 4 Months Ago
      The Renault Zoe is apparently due to be released in Singapore soon: http://blog.alliance-renault-nissan.com/blog/brilliant-verdict-alliance-evs-tedglobal I wonder how many other Asian markets they are to release in? To say that would be massive is an understatement.
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