SOME­THING TO DE­CLARE

Lonely Planet (UK) - - Globetrotter - TOM HALL, Lonely Planet’s Ed­i­to­rial Direc­tor, was al­lowed a spin in a Tesla (tesla.com) for our Epic Drives road trip around na­tional parks in the UK. Epic Drives of the World (£24.99) is out now.

Be­hind the wheel of an electric car is a good place to re­flect on how road trips might look in the fu­ture

For as long as there have been cars, peo­ple have been us­ing them to ven­ture far and wide, rel­ish­ing the spon­tane­ity and ca­ma­raderie found on the open road. But drive for long enough and you’ll no­tice that tra­di­tional cars have un­de­ni­able down­sides. Eco-con­scious trav­ellers will note that they re­quire petrol to go in at one end, and, de­pend­ing on which one you drive, pump out vary­ing quan­ti­ties of nasty stuff at the other. So I won­dered if driv­ing an electric ve­hi­cle would add a guilt-free glow to ad­ven­tur­ing, or would it be rid­dled with new lo­gis­ti­cal con­cerns? On a re­cent trip through Bri­tain, it turned out my con­cerns melted away pretty quickly. The car’s guid­ance sys­tem ad­vises you where to charge and for how long, and I found that the urge to de­tour was stronger in a ve­hi­cle that was smart enough to make sure you al­ways ar­rived with some charge in the bat­tery. Of course, a road trip is not about get­ting from A to B, but about the stops along the way. Sure, there are al­ways go­ing to be times when you’re recharg­ing in Charnock Richard ser­vice sta­tion on the M6, but I was on my way quick enough. Mooching round the map re­veals imag­i­na­tively po­si­tioned con­nec­tion points in Cor­nish beach­side ho­tels, hand­some inns in the Lake Dis­trict and tempt­ing look­ing re­treats in re­mote cor­ners of the High­lands. I men­tally com­posed the apolo­getic call home: ‘Yes, I am re­ally in Tor­ri­don. What else could I do? There’s a charg­ing point here.’ (That said, I might not have a phone sig­nal to make the call. Some tech­nol­ogy moves faster than oth­ers.) Just when I was strug­gling to see the down­side of a road trip in an electric ve­hi­cle I hap­pened upon one. While parked up in the Peak Dis­trict town of Castle­ton I was am­bushed by a small but per­sis­tent band of mo­tor­ing en­thu­si­asts who asked nu­mer­ous chal­leng­ing tech­ni­cal ques­tions about the mo­tor on sub­jects like wattage, down­force and torque. They also de­manded to sit in it, one-by-one, while turn­ing the steer­ing wheel, like three-year-olds in a su­per­mar­ket Noddy car. The soli­tude of the open road called a lit­tle louder.

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