Yesterday morning, at the Arnold Clark Innovation Centre in Glasgow, a troupe of electric vehicles (EVs) of all shapes and sizes set off to begin the EV Rally of Scotland. The EV Rally, which began and will also end in Glasgow, departed a short drive from the Scottish Event Campus, the nucleus of COP26.
Roughly 20 EVs departed from the Innovation Centre, starting out on a five-day, 1200+ mile ‘e-Tour of Scotland’. Together they will take in many of the beautiful landmarks across the country, relying on existing charging infrastructure to go the distance.
Indeed, the aim of the Rally is to showcase Scottish EV charging infrastructure, as well as clean and innovative vehicle technology – and to demonstrate that EV use across Scotland, as well as the rest of the UK, is not just for the odd occasion, but can be the norm.
“The idea of the EV Rally is basically to show that EVs are here, they’re not going away – and that they’re more than capable of being your everyday family car, your everyday work car,” said Event Manager Colin Boyton.
“In essence, it’s a five-day, 1,200-mile showcase of EV technology and charging infrastructure.”
Leaving in fanfare, from the sparkling new Arnold Clark EV Innovation Centre, the vehicles wound their way through Glasgow, heading for the first of 30 checkpoints, in Edinburgh. Co-drivers accompanied the drivers, acting as e-navigators, with many using Zap-Map to plot the route from charge point to charge point.
While some vehicles may well encounter difficulties driving through Scotland’s November weather, the idea is for each and every electric vehicle in the troupe to stop at 30 check points over the five days. Despite the Atlantic weather and the rugged terrain, there was a distinct sense of both optimism and realism at the launch, with EV driving tips being shared left, right and centre.
“I’m looking forward to touring Scotland. There’s plenty of chargers out there and with the range of these cars, you can do neatly in Scotland,” said driver Graeme Lees.
“It’s going to be fun driving through the countryside, without breaking down or running out of charge. It’ll be easy, and enjoyable!”
Tips are shared at the drivers’ briefing.
What’s more, Scotland is already fairly well served when it comes to EV charging points.
“The charging infrastructure in Scotland is already good,” said Boyton. “And that’s down to investment from Transport Scotland. What we’re going to show is that it’s there – and it enables you to live and work with an EV everyday.
“Plus the infrastructure’s only going to get better, as investment continues and the private sector starts to get more heavily involved. I’d like to think that things will just keep on improving. SWARCO, one of the sponsors, have taken over the ChargePlace Scotland network, so we’re hooking into that as we go around during the five days.”
Co-driver Chris Lily, taking part in the Rally as far as Kilmarnock, was also confident of the route, both in terms of the charging infrastructure available as well as the means to navigate it.
“We should have no real issues. There seems to be a bit of a scarcity of rapid points between Edinburgh and down towards Gretna, but I don’t think that will be an issue, especially because there seems to be quite a good mix of cars here in terms of driving range. They mostly seem to be in different categories of range, so I don’t think we’re going to be charging at the same places at the same time,” said Lily.
“We’ll definitely be using Zap-Map,” he continued. “We’ve got a ChargePlace Scotland card in the car, but I’ve also had a look for Osprey charge points, particularly for Zap-Pay.”
A mascot reflects the feel-good atmosphere at the Rally.
At each check point, the idea is for the driver and co-navigator to get out, take a picture of the check point, and then post it on social media, using very strict pre-defined hashtags and social media handles. The organisers hope for awareness of the Rally – and of the capabilities of EVs more broadly – to grow from there.
Day 3, labelled “The Beast” due to it’s 320 miles and tricky terrain, begins with a visit to Skye, before heading way north, picking up the iconic NC500 in the Highlands, to Thurso. However, Day 4 is an even bigger day, by all accounts. The drivers will leave for John O’Groats, pay their respects with ‘EVROS Remembers’ and then head down to Inverness and via Loch Ness to Aberdeen.
‘EVROS Remembers’ is happening because Day 4 is of course 11th November: Remembrance Day. Just before 11am, the drivers will be on live stream on social media, turning on their engines and their headlights to conduct a two-minute EV silence.
EVs assemble: The Rally gets ready to go.
The final day, Day 5, will hopefully include a meeting with Graeme Dey MSP, the Minister for Transport – and, of course, the drivers finishing in a blaze of glory in Glasgow, the home of COP26.