Recently, I was fortunate enough to visit Iceland and Greenland (spending two weeks in Iceland and one in Greenland). During that time I met many lovely people, and observed countless beautiful sights, from glaciers and lava fields, to waterfalls and the aurora borealis, and perhaps most beautiful of all as it relates to this blog – an abundance of EVs.
This was abundance was particularly clear to see in Iceland. There is a well-known anecdote about the founding of Iceland and Greenland – that they were named in reverse to their predominant natural climates, and that Iceland in fact doesn’t have very much ice at all. While I can’t testify to how true that remains in winter, I can say that during my trip there was indeed very little ice, or ICE to be found.
For those unfamiliar with the acronym ‘ICE’, it stands for Internal Combustion Engine and is often used to describe a vehicle that runs only on gasoline or diesel fuel, rather than electricity or another type of energy. When I was in Iceland, it seemed that nearly everywhere you turned you could easily spot an EV, with the most popular being a variety of Tesla models, followed by the Kia Niro, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Hyundai Ioniq, Ford Mustang Mach-E, and some EV models only available in the European market.
This abundance of EVs wasn’t just my imagination, as Iceland has an EV adoption rate of around 60% (with 1 in 4 being fully electric). Why is this you may wonder? Perhaps it’s because Icelander’s are keenly aware of their environmental impact, or perhaps it’s because Icelandic electricity is cheap, thanks to nearly 100% of it coming from clean, and local energy sources (primarily geothermal and hydroelectric energy). Perhaps it’s a bit of both.
Thanks to this incredibly affordable electricity, public EV charging options are plentiful, especially in the capitol city of Reykjavik. I once spotted 7 EV charging spots lined up next to each other! EVs are also very good for when the weather does get colder, allowing drivers to safely warm up their cars from the comfort of their garage, before heading out for the day (assuming they’re fully electric). Today’s EVs provide Icelanders plenty of range, even during the colder months where vehicles of all types have a higher energy demand. This dependability may also explain why EVs are also becoming increasingly popular in Greenland.
Greenland tends to have more unpredictable weather and terrain, leading to most vehicles I saw EV or otherwise, being designed to handle rugged and icy terrain. When visiting the capitol city of Nuuk, I saw a variety of EVs, from electric work trucks to the ever-popular Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and the Toyota RAV4 Prime PHEV, although plenty of the cars popular in Iceland made a few appearances as well. Greenland is also becoming known for it’s EV Races, however, I missed out on that one this trip.
At this point, you may be thinking, “well that’s great that she visited some magical EV wonderlands, but none of that is possible where I live!”. I’d be inclined to disagree. EVs can very clearly compete with and often outshine their ICE counterparts and become preferred vehicles in countries where driving can be a far more stressful game. On top of that, in states like Massachusetts, it’s EVen easier and more affordable to drive an EV. Not only is Massachusetts electricity becoming increasingly derived from clean energy sources (better in driving emissions than a 100-mpg car, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists) but those with electricity is provided by municipal light plants (MLPs) often have access to cleaner than average power, but also lower than average electricity costs (along with access to a handful of extra EV rebates & incentives).
I had an amazing trip, a once in a lifetime experience that I won’t soon forget, filled with beautiful scenery, kind people and some truly amazing ICE-less cars. Hopefully one day, another wide-eyed twenty-something will visit Massachusetts from a foreign land and be able to say the same.
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