Yellow BMW i3 to the Limpopo River

by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa

I didn't anticipate our electric car escaping the city on an expedition. His goal was Crooks Corner at the top of Kruger Park, where the Limpopo River forms our border to Zimbabwe inland and Mozambique on the coast. A long journey with many coaching inns to change the horses - instead we took the car on the Premier Classe train to Johannesburg, and back. Three thousand kilometre round trip. Cape Town is convenient as they use the last platform and we can drive straight on. Jo'burg was a devious route up, down, and around, repeat. Again.

Loading our car on the train at Cape Town station We were up at 4 before the birds and the sun!
Loading our car on the train at Cape Town station
We were up at 4 before the birds and the sun!

We charged at BMW dealers. Most convenient in Pretoria at Club Motors Fountains! In Polokwane and Emalahleni (Witbank) the outside charging station was broken and they took the car into the workshop for us. We tried the new (Jaguar) point at Ilanga Mall at Mbombela (Nelspruit) shopping mall, but it wouldn't accept our BMW.

Charging at BMW in Pretoria
Charging at BMW in Pretoria

He has been planning this journey for about a year. Asked each host about charging. Magoebaskloof was impossible, till I suggested plugging in at Reception overnight (with bonus load shedding, so we began that day fully charged, but with only 160 km range at 4C. Quiet panic, but we acquired kilometre as the day thawed)

In Mbombela / Nelspruit we had to park across the steps to the main entrance, then trail the cable across to our room as the exterior plug was broken.

Inconvenient charging, but possible
Inconvenient charging, but possible

The section of corrugated gravel was a nightmare, but the good gravel roads were happy. Silently approaching the animals was a pleasure. Seven hundred kilometres in Kruger on tar or gravel roads.

Near Punda Maria on good gravel roads
Near Punda Maria on good gravel roads

Mission accomplished. He reached Crooks Corner. I was horrified that the 'great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River' was absolutely dry. You could walk across the sand to Zimbabwe!

Crooks Corner way up North in Kruger Park Mission accomplished!
Crooks Corner way up North in Kruger Park
Mission accomplished!

Thanks to a warning from his hiking companion we took two heavy duty extension leads 20 m and 10 m - which we needed to reach the plug along the boardwalk to our tent at Punda Maria.

Charging at our distant Punda Maria tent
Charging at our distant Punda Maria tent

At Olifants Rest Camp and Lower Sabie in Kruger Park we could park conveniently and feed the cable straight to the plug.

Easy charging in Kruger
Easy charging in Kruger

Heading South we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn.

On the Tropic of Capricorn
On the Tropic of Capricorn 

At Pilgrim's Rest we were the most exciting thing they saw that day. Always lots of questions about an electric car. The Ungardener in the brown shirt - demonstrating no engine under the bonnet, and a socket under the petrol cap. Pictures of the unusual dashboard too.

Pilgrim's Rest hadn't seen an electric car before Most exciting thing that day!
Pilgrim's Rest hadn't seen an electric car before
Most exciting thing that day!

Freshly charged on a good day we achieved over 340 km range (but missed the photo proof).
2 091 kilometres of trouble free driving!

Freshly charged on a good day
Freshly charged on a good day

Closing with a salutary reminder that our nice clean electric car sadly draws its power from coal fired power stations. This is Witbank. The town renamed eMalahleni ‘place of coal’ in the Ndebele dialect. Huge issues around air pollution and associated health risks - visible evidence of why South Africa ranks SO poorly for carbon dioxide emissions.

Witbank coal fired power station  BMW took us across to the shopping mall while they charged our car
Witbank coal fired power station

BMW took us across to the shopping mall
while they charged our car

We plan to add photovoltaic panels to our garage roof once we can afford them.

A few days up the West Coast for spring flowers in 2018
Sold our twenty year old Land Rover and bought this electric car in November 2017

2 Cape Town to the Limpopo River our journey up to Kruger Park
3 Pilgrim's Rest to Cape Town heading home
4 Elephants and friends

I invite you to join us at Elephant's Eye on False Bay. Please subscribe as you prefer
via Feedly,
or Bloglovin,
or Facebook 

Pictures by Diana and Jürg Studer

Teal blue text is my links.
To read comments if you are in email or a Reader,

Thanks for comments that add value. Maybe start a new thread of discussion? BTW your comment won't appear until I've read it. No Google account? Just use Anonymous, but do leave a link to your own blog. I would return the visit, if I could...

I welcome comments on posts from the last 2 months.

Comments

  1. I love it! It looks like a bumble bee! That dry river bed is astounding, shocking! Thank you for the kind words on my blog, take care my friend,

    ReplyDelete
  2. How wonderful that you have an electric car. I look forward to the day when they become more available and more affordable n the US. We also need more charging stations. Looks like you had quite the trip. xo Laura

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Affordable would be good - we pay a heavy import duty unfortunately.

      Delete
  3. If electric BMWs are available in the US, I've yet to see any but then we don't get many of the new European cars when they're first introduced. I want my next car to be electric but, even though I don't usually range long distances, I'd like to be assured that I could get 250 or more miles on a single charge. Charging stations can be difficult to find here too (even though California is ahead of the rest of the US pack there). My husband used to drive an electric car, a Mazda RX-7 he converted from a gas vehicle himself, but he drove it mainly to work, which was only a few miles away for most of his working years. When we moved to our current hilly location, he gave the car to our nephew, who sadly kept it only a couple of years before he went to college. My husband's brother donated it to the local high school automotive shop.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. BMW are moving on to other models of electric cars. Glad we caught this iconic classic with its carbon fibre body. When the car battery needs replacing, technology will have moved on, and the range will increase.

      Delete
  4. That is a very exciting adventure! My son thinks my next car should be electric. We actually have some charging stations on the campus, though not sure about elsewhere in the area. Right now I make do with my hybrid which I truly enjoy. I enjoyed the trip as well as the car story!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A hybrid is a good compromise, if you are not using the car for short city distances.

      Delete
  5. I thought of Kipling as soon as I saw Limpopo in your post's title! What a trip you've had - we're considering an electric car as our next purchase but have been put off by the worry about where to charge on long journeys, plus my engineer husband isn't convinced how green they actually are owing to the electricity has to come from somewhere. Good point that the car's range differs according to temperature - I hadn't thought about that, even though I see the same thing happens with the life of my camera's battery. Thanks for your insightful comments over at my place - I'm updating both my Swiss and Jewelweed posts thanks to you. I hadn't twigged capensis referred to the Cape and I'm intrigued how botanist Nicolaas Meerburgh made that mistake when he named the plant.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In the UK you at least have the option to buy green / renewable energy. Our solar and wind energy goes to the national grid, then combined with coal and nuclear from Koeberg.

      Delete
  6. Just read your conversation with Kris. A local company (Dyson) is investing heavily in battery technology research and is in the process of building a massive new facility to do so just a few miles away from here.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great car. My daughter-in-law has a Tesla and loves it. Their community in Arizona is pressuring the electricity company to adopt solar energy - to no avail yet. P. x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Arizona would be perfect for solar!

      Delete
    2. The big utilities in Arizona (the sunniest state in the country) have worked with the Republicans in state government to fight solar energy in AZ as much as they possibly can. It's very sad.

      Delete
  8. The Limpopo was dry. Yikes.

    Your yellow I3 is very cool. Great planning to accomplish a long trip with minimal EV charging locations. We've been on several road trips with our EV, and enjoyed them all. More and more EVs and chargers here.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Your holiday with your electric car was much more challenging than ours! Congratulations in all you achieved, it certainly takes a lot of planning! How widespread are electric car points? There are over 15 different companies who run charge points here - they are meant to be moving to a touch screen payment which will be easier than signing up with so many companies! Did you meet any other owners of electric cars? We have found them to be so friendly and helpful. Sarah x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He had to plan very carefully for charging (overnight at our accommodation was mostly straightforward) Jaguar has recently installed a new network - but we need a new card and a credit on their account. Otherwise we depend on BMW dealers in the cities, and the occasional shopping mall.

      We didn't meet any - but we did see one! in city traffic.

      Delete

Popular Posts