Scotland’s most famous scenic driving route is turning green as the North Coast 500 signs an electric vehicle firm to its list of partners.
The new deal, with Ingliston-based Ecosse EV, means travellers can undertake the popular Highland tour with a much reduced carbon footprint.
The company runs a fleet of luxury Teslas, offering chauffeur-driven travel and self-drive options.
Last year a team from North Coast 500 confirmed the route’s suitability for electric motoring. There are already at least 42 EV charging points along the way, while some hotels have installed chargers for use by guests.
Stephen Dunn, chief operating officer of Ecosse EV, said: “The North Coast 500 is the perfect platform in which to highlight the environmental benefits of choosing the zero-emissions alternative in self-drive and chauffeur-drive, without compromising on luxury,” he said.
“As the route grows in stature, the ever-growing popularity brings with it a substantial increase in carbon emissions from fossil-fuelled internal combustion engines.
“Our partnership ensures visitors wishing to experience the route and locals living on it have the cleaner and greener option, which will help support a sustainable future for the North Coast 500.”
The 516-mile journey, which takes motorists through Wester Ross, Sutherland, Caithness and Inverness-shire, was named the world’s best road trip by Condé Nast Traveler magazine last year.
It includes several challenging ascents and descents, including the famed Bealach na Bà at Applecross – the winding road climbs in a series of hairpin bends to 626m above sea level over about four miles.
A recent report suggests marketing of the North Coast 500 attracted 29,000 additional visitors to the Highlands – worth an extra £9 million – in the first 12 months after its launch in 2015. The research, commissioned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, showed an average 26 per cent increase in visitor numbers compared with a six per cent rise across the Highland region.
The tourist organisation VisitScotland has described it as “the ultimate 500-mile journey”, offering access to historical castles, spectacular beaches and dramatic mountains along the way.
Chris Taylor, regional leadership director for VisitScotland, said: “The North Coast 500 has been a huge success for Scotland’s visitor economy, generating millions of pounds in additional spend as well as showing off the incredible scenery and attractions across the Highlands.
“Ecosse EV is one of several companies that have shown real innovation by creating a product that allows visitors to combine their desire to explore Scotland with their environmental responsibilities, contributing to ongoing efforts to make our country a sustainable destination.”
Tom Campbell, managing director of North Coast 500, added: “We are delighted to be working with Ecosse EV, our newest corporate partners. This is another great addition to the options available for travellers on the North Coast 500.”