My Carver, my Azores

Quick stop at the Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeirões

The Carver finally arrived, getting it shipped was a mission, probably availability related, and finding the right company. Seems like shipping things under 30kg is easy, and an entire car or container is easy, but the middle bit is a challenge, somehow. We ended up with Bentrans, and I recommend them. I bought this Base model (max 45kph) second-hand from Living Plus and Pedro is just great. We’re still deciding if I will upgrade to the faster S+ (max 90kph) and then either return or sell this one, but honestly the Base is doing just fine on these twisty roads.

I decided to drive it home from Ponta Delgada to where we live in Santo Antonio de Nordestinho, a trip of about 50km. Getting around in the city was amazing, especially as the city has really narrow roads that massive cars still decide to park in. I have had close calls in rental cars and threw more than one tantrum about Graham making me drive.

All this changed in a flash in the Carver. What a joy! As for the spectators, there are a few smart cars and Renault Twizy’s here, so people have seen microcars, but the Carver drew a fair amount of stares, pics taken, hoots and wows, nice!

I set myself an initial test leg to the hardware store, to take a break and breathe, but it was so much of a non-issue stress wise that in the shop I was just impatient to get out on the road again!

Pit stop at a hardware store in Ponta Delgada to get supplies for our dodgy plumbing.

I then had to go to the next point, Mendonça & Filhos Lda in “Azores park”, just outside of Ponta Delgada to try to source bulk beer to be delivered to our home; this is the last thing that is forcing us to go shopping more regularly than we like. There is a veggie truck that makes the rounds in the village, so fresh produce is sorted at least.

I used google maps for navigation and asked for a route a cyclist could take, to avoid highways. It … did take me on a beautiful road that I think may only be suited for cyclists and off road vehicles, hahaha. It was also misty at that point and I thought if I died here only a rich person going to their secluded mansion would find me, and they won’t care. But I made it. I popped back into civilisation around here, if you want to look at the satellite views. At this point I had 80% battery left, and the battery temperature I think was around 40 ish or so.

From there I chose the “no motorways” navigation option but google still just put me on the main roads – we’re not 100% sure if I’m allowed to drive on the one big road EN1-1A through the island, but I didn’t see another option between Ribeira Grande and Lomba da Maia, and there were trucks and tractors and things going slowly so it’s probably fine. I did go down to Maia and then the road up to Lomba da Maia was closed so I had to turn around and go back to the main motorway. This probably chewed a bit of battery.

There were two long hills on this stretch, and I managed about 33kph or so uphill. I was lucky that it was a beautiful day, as this stretch is quite exposed. It’s unlikely I would do this stretch with the Carver again, as the bus goes three times a day if I do need to go to town, it’s a lovely ride and at good time points, and we have up till now rented a car every couple of weeks when we need to go to the airport or whatever and then I just shop till I almost literally drop. So we’ve been managing, and it will be interesting to see how this changes now I can get around more easily locally. There’s no big shops further east than Ribeira Grande, there are mini-markets and I think half of the problem is our habit of a shop needing a certain look and feel. I realised I judge a shop based on the quality of its light.

Check those curves! at the Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeirões

Anyway, from Lomba da Maia (55% battery, temperature 43 (it says % on the dashboard, could be degrees C, not sure)) the motorway really opens up and is flat and fast, which is not the Carver’s forte, it’s boring and the cars passing makes one feel left behind. It’s also easy to get off the motorway and take a gorgeous twisty back road that is a lot less hilly than anticipated, which is exactly what I did. This was a most enjoyable ride. This will make a lovely video of quaint villages interspersed with gorgeous valleys. Tons of side roads to explore, but to be honest the plan is to park in the village and then walk around because these roads get hella steep hella fast and I almost rolled a rental car into the sea already at Farol do Arnel so nothankyou.

The total trip from Ponta Delgada to home took about 2 hours, but I did stop a few times for a variety of reasons. The last two stops I was starting to wonder about remaining battery power and temperature. At Salga it was 35% battery and 60% heat. (Salga is where “our” pizza place is – Café Moagem – and I considered having a beer and asking to charge it, but decided to push through) and at the Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeirões it hit 25% and started to give warning beeps.

I made my last stop at the Miradouro da Despe-te que Suas where the battery had about 20% left, and the battery temperature was still about 60%. This made me worry because it was just before the last hill, and this is the only big one. Despe-te que Suas means to undress yourself because getting through is a lot of effort (miradouro is viewpoint). This is my valley, our house is 2km away by foot. I call it sweaty valley. So I’m sitting here sweating that the Carver will start rolling backwards or explode or something halfway up the hill. I’m wondering if I can remove the battery, walk home and charge it and then walk back. I pontificated for half an hour and then decided to take the plunge. Temperature was lower, about 45%. I talked the Carver through, praising it and saying it can take, like, 10% of the power if it needs to! It made it, but could only manage about 20kph uphill, complaining about the battery being low and even had one temperature warning.

Miradouro da Despe-te que Suas

At the house I tested the horn and it’s bloody loud, so Graham came running out and we all celebrated. We needed to improvise to get it charged; our house is far from the street, so I won’t share what we got up to to manage, lol, but we will figure out a good solution once we own the house and can make modifications to the walkway. I’ll get a longer extension lead, for now. It took about 5 hours to charge – the R model charges faster, apparently. Again, this is not really a problem for me.

On the charging front, we also don’t quite trust our wiring (in addition to the dodgy plumbing) so Graham did some quick math to evaluate the load:
Carver Base Battery type: LFP Battery capacity: 5.4 kWh,
and the stated (and our experience of charging) 80%: in 4 hours, 100%: 5 hours:
To transfer 5.4kWh of energy takes 5 hours, so the rate is 5.4 / 5 = 1.08kW, or 1080W / 220V gives about 5A of charging current, which is decent and below the rating for our little extension cord.

Cost wise, going on what we believe is the price of electricity, 20.32 euro cents per kWh, fully charging the carver is 5.4kWh * 20.32 = 1.10€. That’s a good deal. In comparison a one-way trip in the rental car cost about 8EUR in petrol, give or take. With the noise and the stink and all that, but, granted, it’s good for hauling a day’s takings every once in a while.

“beauty is important to me” but somehow living in what is currently a bit of a “project” is totally fine. I dunno. Priorities. (Also I love my little hug house so don’t even start with me)

In summary. Half the stress about driving the thing all the way was my weird head. In my mind it is simultaneously a basic tiny little thing that would get crushed by cars and blown into the sea by the merest gust, and a big unwieldy thing that would refuse to obey my steering and fall over and crush me and have the battery die and roll backwards on the hills and just cause an inconvenience. Or be some con altogether and just fall to pieces as soon as I get in it.

It was none of those things. It cruised perfectly and smoothly and obediently and beautifully, drawing cheers and wows and thrilled children and old men as it went. Cars slowed down next to me to take a good look. I love it. I LOVE IT. I saw two Renault Twizy’s the past two days, they’re getting back into production, and they’re not bad vehicles. But the Carver draws stares in a way the Twizy does not. And, turns out, beauty is important to me.

One negative: I think the windows are a design flaw; they’re heavy and the doors don’t close as effortlessly when they’re in. They’re also an all-in or all-out option so you can’t close them while driving, for example. I think I will hack a canvas/plastic jobbie because I prefer driving windowless, but the rain here does come often and at a moment’s notice. That’s the only negative I can see on this vehicle. EDIT: looking at the Carver website, this seems to have been fixed to some sort of sliding window, so, the only negative is not even relevant anymore. Honestly. Get one. Club together with a few friends and share it if you need to; it is expensive, but it’s worth it. Absolutely worth it.

2 Replies to “My Carver, my Azores”

  1. How money cost a used carver for handicaped person who need one to déplace not expensive to import it in Tunisia

    1. Hi, the Carver is still very new so I don’t think there’s many second-hand models out there. It’s also not that straight-forward to get in and out if you have mobility issues. However, I think the Canta could work for you: and There is also the Kenguru:

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