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Route 57 Kia Soul EV with Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland in the background.
Route 57 Kia Soul EV with Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland in the background.

Driving Electric Route 57 Across Britain and Ireland

By Bill Moore

Watch out America's Route 66, here comes Britain and Ireland's Route 57. UK automotive journalist Jess Shanahan drives 2,500 miles in a Kia Soul EV, made possible by networks of EV charging stations from Plymouth to Galway.

Jess Shanahan is a self-acknowledged 'petrol head.' She's a motoring journalist from the Norfolk region of England who usually writes about ICE-age autos: internal combustion engine vehicles. With her rainbow-hued tresses and nose piecing, she represents the next generation of reporters of our car-centric culture. Once she insisted on escorting a friend's cats by car from Britain to Sweden.

She's also the first writer to climb into a Kia Soul EV, courtesy of DriveElectric, and explore the highways and byways of Britain and Ireland that makes up what's being billed as the UK's equivalent to America's Route 66, the fabled highway that links Chicago to Los Angeles.

Dubbed Route 57 by its creators, Jury Inns, a UK-based hotel chain founded in Dublin in 1881, the 2,500+ mile route incorporates 57 of Britain and Ireland's most scenic and culturally important sites and attractions (see list below), all of them linked now by networks of electric car charging stations.

Her journey, along with her photographer-navigator-media wrangler, took some three weeks to complete, starting in early April of this year. Typically driving around 100 miles a day, they stopped periodically to recharge the Soul EV loaned them by DriveElectric at an ever-expanding series of public charging networks, some owned by Ecotricity, others by local town councils, some by the government in Scotland and the Irish Republic; all them requiring a stack of smart cards to access. And over the 2,500 mile journey along coastlines, through hamlets and big cities, and across weathered mountain ranges blanketed by late spring snows, only once did they experience that dreaded phenomenon of "range anxiety." But as Jess explains, a combination of regenerative braking and hypermiling got them to their destination at the foot of the Pennines.

What she discovered along the way is that the journey is more important than the destination. Having to periodically stop to recharge the car for several hours gave her and her companion the opportunity to rediscover Britain, from fabled Brighton on the English Channel, to hectic London, to historic York, to the lochs of Scotland, finishing up across the Irish Sea on the shores of Galway Bay. It's those moments of discovery that made the journey memorable.

And when the trip was over late last month and the car returned to DriveElectric, she realized how much she'd come to enjoy the EV experience compared to her current ICE-age Abarth Fiat 500.

We talk with Jess from her home in Norwich via Skype. You can watch the 20-minute interview below her Route 57 itinerary.

UK/Ireland Route 57 Itinerary

Plymouth, Dartmoor National Park, Exeter, Dorset Area of Natural Beauty, Bournemouth, New Forest, Southampton, Portsmouth, Brighton, London, Windsor, Swindon, Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, Brecon Beacons, Cheltenham, The Cotswolds Area of Natural Beauty, Oxford, Milton Keynes, Warwick, Coventry, Birmingham, Leicester, Derby, Nottingham, Peak District National Park, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, York, North York Moors, Middlesbrough, Durham, Newcastle, North Pennines Area of Natural Beauty, Lake District, Kielder Forest Park, Northumberland Area of Natural Beauty, Edinburgh, Perth, Stonehaven, Aberdeen, Cairngorms National Park, Inverness, Loch Ness, Fort Augustus, Fort William, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, Glasgow, Belfast, Dublin, Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Galway.

Video Interview

Times Article Viewed: 6664
Originally published: 09 May 2016

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