Rob and Natalie Carswell with their hired BMW i3
Riding Iceland's Electric Ring Road
By Bill Moore
The government of Iceland, population 338,349 (2017) recently finished an electric car charging network around its island-girdling Ring Road, so Rob and Natalie Carswell decided drive it last August.
The Carswells live in Dorset, England. Rob is a designer and together he and wife Natalie have three young children, ages 9, 11, and 12. They also drive an electric car, a Kia Soul EV, so tackling the nearly 900 mile circumference of Iceland wasn't their first rodeo, so to speak. They did it, in part for the sheer adventure, but also to help raise awareness of the viability of EVs in even some of the most daunting, as well as scenic, places on earth.
As Rob notes in our interview, in March of this year, the Icelandic government completed a three year project to set up an electric car charging network around the island, installing rapid chargers every 100-200 km (62-124 miles), as illustrated by the map below. These are both CHAdeMO and CCS; the former suitable for Renault-Nissan vehicles, the latter for others like the BMW i3, which they eventually ended up with for most of the trip. The first couple days of what turned out to be a six day adventure, was in a Renault Zoe. Curiously, it proved to have more range - up to 240 km - than the i3, but took ages to recharge, Rob explained.
As a reflection of their passion and commitment to sustainable transport, a year ago, they set up an "adventure apparel"business to promote EVs, from e-bikes to electric cars,called Spark+Volt. He's also starting to take an interest in e-bikes with his first one slated to show up in January. He plans to ride it the mile to his workplace, instead of walking all the time.
While most of the six-day trip went relatively smoothly, a few times, they found themselves on the the wrong segment of the Route One Ring Road, an older section that even scares the locals. Driving in the dark with fog and rain, they eventually arrived at their accommodations for the night a couple hours late. Their host expressed dismay when told which way they’d come.
“Oh no, no one ever comes that way,” she exclaimed.
Except for that part of the journey, Carswell and his wife found the scenery unparalleled, every corner they turned was completely different. “It’s just astounding. We saw volcanos, glaciers, icebergs, geysers… There are waterfalls everywhere.” He said his favorite part was Diamond Beach, where the sea churns local icebergs calved from a glacier into sparkling diamond-like bits of ice set against black volcanic beach.
You can follow their route and commentary on their Spark+Volt blog. And, of course, you can listen to our 20+ minute dialogue using the embedded MP3 player below.
Originally published: 20 Dec 2018
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