Last week, Toro-the-rural-Twizy and his crew waved a sad ‘Farewell’ to Eigg and headed out across the Minch aboard the Spanish John bound for Knoydart where Toro will continue his trial for the next 3 months.
To see how well the modified Twizy works in locations similar to rural Wales where neither range nor high speed are important and renewable sources of electricity are readily available.
To identify the design priorities for a Twizy-like vehicle which would work effectively in remote rural locations.
To use the trial experiences to motivate a manufacturer to design or modify an existing vehicle for this low energy, rural market.
To explore the reduced carbon footprint and diesel cost relative to the added electricity demand (and cost) when local transport is done in a Twizy-like vehicle.
Closing in on Inverie, we got our first glimpse of the snow tapped peaks of Knoydart and a small welcoming party from Knoydart Foundation Rangers on the pier awaiting Toro’s arrival. The photo they took of us steaming in suggested Toro might have to make a dramatic leap ashore which would have been memorable but, fortunately, wasn’t necessary. We said goodbye to the Spanish John having enjoyed a thankfully smooth crossing entertained by the somewhat surreal mix of dolphin sightings (outside) and daytime TV featuring fake marriage ceremonies (in the wheelhouse)!
We immediately had a volunteer to drive Toro along the street to the Foundation office. And, once parked up, Toro attracted his usual group of curious onlookers – all keen to have a go. We talked Ranger Amie and her colleagues through the details of how to drive, charge and manage Toro and the insurance forms etc necessary for the trial. One of the joys of Twizys is that they charge via an ordinary 13amp plug so can be charged anywhere and that’s what has made these Twizy trials possible.
People were then eager to experience their first Twizzle so off they went. In return, Ranger Tommy offered us a ‘go’ on their electric quad bike which Peter, complete with official-looking helmet, enjoyed. A photo shoot of Toro with his new mate duly took place. It’s going to be interesting how the Knoydart rangers compare the on-road performance of the two vehicles – Toro’s range is certainly much longer but he can’t go off-road so the quad will definitely win on that one!
After a couple of hours and a quick bite in the excellent Knoydart Tearoom, it was time for us to leave Toro in Amie’s capable hands and catch the foot ferry back to Mallaig and the train back down South. The ferry took an interesting detour to collect the mail from an even more remote community (Tarbert) on the opposite side of Loch Nevis. We liked the idea of keeping a horse in your front garden!
We are intrigued to see how the Knoydart residents use and evaluate the Twizy compared to Eigg. The population (100) is slightly larger than Eigg but although it’s on the mainland, Knoydart is accessible only by sea and is effectively an island community. Electricity on Knoydart is supplied from a community owned and run 280kW hydro-electric scheme and diesel back-up generator which is fed through a small local grid to most of the households and businesses on Knoydart. Like Eigg, the community is interested in whether electric vehicles could prove a useful load dump for excess electricity which, in their case, can’t go onto the UK grid.
Amie has already posted some great Toro photos and comments on the Knoydart Foundation Rangers’ Facebook page and so you can follow the trial’s progress there and by following us on @ecofunkytravel