Driving Electric Cars and Hybrids in Iceland

Electric vehicles (EVs) are smarter, more affordable to run, and better for the planet. If you’re looking to rent a car while you’re in Iceland, it makes sense to hire an EV.

In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about driving electric cars in Iceland. We’ll cover the kinds of cars available, charging stations, and tips for efficient and safe driving.

Black Tesla model Y from Holdur Car Rental - Europcar in Iceland

The rise of electric and hybrid cars in Iceland

Over the last decade, electric vehicles have become the most popular type of car in Iceland. Up until 2014, there were only 100 EVs in the whole of the island. Roll on 2022, though, and 60% of all new cars sold were electric.

Overall, around 15% of Iceland’s vehicles are now EVs—the highest proportion of any country in the world after Norway. So, if you’re concerned about a lack of clean vehicles or charging infrastructure in Iceland, you don’t need to worry.

We’re proud of Iceland being a leader in EVs for a couple of reasons:

  • EVs are much better for the environment than standard cars. They produce fewer greenhouse gases, as they don’t use so much fossil fuel.

  • EVs tend to be smarter. These new vehicles offer a better driving experience, as they often have in-built navigation systems and other smart features.

  • EVs are cheaper to run. As you’ll see when you drive in Iceland, you’ll have many opportunities to charge your vehicle for free—in hotels, spas, and other destinations. It means you don’t need to spend on fuel.

Overall, driving an electric car in Iceland is better for you, the planet, and everyone else on the road. We’d really recommend that you rent one on your trip.

The types of EVs to hire in Iceland

As Iceland is such a large market for electric vehicles, you can hire any type of model of car that you’re comfortable with. These include the main EV types:

  • Battery EVs (or BEVs). These are entirely electric and don’t require any petrol or diesel at all. That’s because they’re fueled when you plug the battery into a charging point, whether that’s in your home or in a public space.

  • Plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEVs). These have an electric motor as well as a diesel or petrol engine. Plug in the vehicle to charge the battery and drive for about 40 miles (64 km) on electric power. After that, the vehicle will switch to the standard petrol engine.

  • Hybrid EV (HEVs). Finally, a HEV is what people mean when they talk about “hybrids”. You can’t charge them. Instead, the electric motor charges the petrol engine.

If it’s the lowest environmental impact that you’re looking for in your rental vehicle, choose a BEV—as they don’t use any fossil fuels at all and have no emissions. But if you’re planning on travelling long distances in remote areas, having a PHEV or hybrid is smart, so you know you won’t run out of fuel.

Where to find charging stations in Iceland

The first question many drivers will have before hiring an EV will be about where they can charge it. To put your mind at ease straight away, in Iceland electric charging stations are very common.

You’ll find most charging stations around Reykjavík and the Capital region—as this is where most Icelanders live. If you’re mostly visiting areas such as Reykjanes, the Golden Circle, and Iceland’s south coast, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to charge. In this area, charging stations, like fueling stations, are typically open 24 hours a day.

If you’re travelling further afield, charging stations are less frequent as there tend to be fewer people that use them. Those stations in particularly quiet areas may even have reduced opening hours—however, self-service pumps are usually available.

If you’re new to driving an EV, it’s important to be aware that not every chargepoint is compatible with every vehicle. You’ll find 3 main types of charging stations in Iceland:

  • Tesla Superchargers. There are 7 Tesla charging stations in Iceland. These are compatible only with Tesla vehicles. You can find their locations on Tesla’s directory here.

  • High-power charging. Many EVs can use high-power charging stations, also known as ultra-fast charging stations. These can fully charge a vehicle in about 30 minutes.

  • Standard EV charging. These are the slower types of charging point. It can take up to 8 hours to fully charge your vehicle, from a domestic or public charger.

Many charging points in Iceland are run by companies such as Ísorka and ON. Both companies have useful apps, which show you where to find charging stations and current rates. Another useful resource is PlugShare, a site that maps different types of charging stations across the world.

As the map below shows, all of the inhabited areas of Iceland are well-served by EV charging points. However, if you’re driving in remote corners of the country, it’s really important that you ensure your vehicle is fully charged before you go.

Map of charging stations for electric car in iceland

But don’t worry—you won’t have to navigate all this information by yourself. If you rent a vehicle from Höldur, we’ll provide you with everything you need about where to find charging stations that are compatible with your vehicle.

Paying for EV charging in Iceland

Typically, running an EV in Iceland is cheaper than driving a standard petrol or diesel car.

That’s because electricity tends to be more affordable in Iceland. As Iceland is a very volcanically active country, we get most of our electricity from local renewable sources. It’s a much more efficient way of doing things.

In many cases, EV chargers are even free—for example, if you’re staying at a hotel with complimentary charging. Alternatively, they’ll be priced by ISK (that’s Icelandic krona) per kilowatt hour (kWh).

In 2024, you can expect to pay something like the following for different charge points:

  • Regular charge: 20-30 ISK/kWh
  • Fast charge: 40-60 ISK/kWh
  • Ultra-fast charge: 60-70 ISK/kWh

That may not mean much by itself, so take an example. The Tesla Model Y is the world’s most popular electric vehicle, and it has a battery capacity of 75kWh. On a full charge, this car can drive over 300 miles (480 km). Given that Iceland’s entire “Ring Road” (Highway 1) is about 1,300 km, you won’t need to charge very often.

If you were to fully charge the Model Y from empty, you’d pay 3.750 ISK, or about €25. Compare that to a conventional car, which can cost as much as €80 per tank of petrol.

Primarily, you can pay for charging by card or via your EV app, such as On or Ísorka.

Navigating and driving safely in an electric vehicle in Iceland

Electric vehicles can take you to the vast majority of places you’ll want to go in Iceland. As the charging network is so large, you won’t usually need to worry about charging.

However, there are some things that it’s really important to know when driving in Iceland—and not only in an EV. Here, we share some key tips, to help you navigate easily, stay safe, and enjoy your journey.

  • If you’ve never driven an EV before, take it slow to start with. BEVs handle differently to regular vehicles, as they accelerate immediately and don’t have any gears. It can take a moment to get used to, so make sure you give yourself time to practise before you head out on any long journey.

  • Know your car’s range. EVs’ battery life depends on the model, road conditions, and your style of driving. Before you go anywhere, make sure you check your vehicle’s range—otherwise you may run out of battery.

  • Plan your trip in advance. One of the most important things you can do when travelling around Iceland in an EV is to plan your trip well. Most importantly, consider where you’ll charge your vehicle and the kinds of road you might expect to drive on.
  • In an EV, avoid F-roads and any roads that cross rivers. F roads are Iceland’s highland roads. They’re usually closed during the winter due to snow, but in summer they’re popular with visitors heading into the highlands. Please do not take your EV on these roads. They’re unpaved and often ford rivers. This can fatally damage an EV.
  • Check ahead for where you’ll park. Parking in Iceland is easy. However, it’s worth checking to see if you can charge overnight in a dedicated EV parking space. Plus, you may feel more comfortable leaving your vehicle inside if snow is forecast.
  • Use your vehicle’s sat nav for route finding. Most EVs are equipped with onboard navigation systems. These are more convenient—and safer too—than using your phone for navigation. Like in most countries, it’s illegal to use your phone while driving in Iceland.
  • Read a weather forecast before travelling. Typically, EVs handle better in snow than other vehicles. But if you’re not used to driving one, it can take some getting used to. Generally, if you’re not comfortable in winter driving, it’s best to avoid winter conditions completely.
  • Download EV charging apps for additional navigation support. Apps like On and Ísorka are really handy for finding charge points and other EV-specific information.

Ultimately, they’re simple tips. But they can help you to stay safe and enjoy a stress-free road trip.

Volkswagen ID.5 from Europcar Holdur car rental in Iceland entering the town of Akureyri in th north

3 perfect road trip itineraries for EV drivers

To give you a sense of where you can drive in your electric vehicle, here are some favourite routes with all the EV-related information you need.

1. The “Ring Road”: Iceland’s classic road trip

The “Ring Road” is one of the most popular road trip routes in Iceland. It takes you from Reykjavík in a circle around the country, following Highway 1. You’ll see some of Iceland’s most incredible sights along the way.

The road is paved and well-maintained throughout, making it perfect for EV drivers. Plus, you’ll find charging stations around the entire route.

For instance, Tesla drivers will find superchargers in Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Höfn, Egilsstaðir, Akureyri, Staðarskáli, and in Reykjavík. Other EV drivers will find compatible charging points along the route too.

What can you see on your road trip?

  • The waterfalls of Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss
  • Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and the Diamond Beach
  • The scenic Eastfjords
  • Lake Mývatn and the Arctic Coast
  • Akureyri, the “Capital of the North
  • The Westfjords, Iceland’s region with the fewest inhabitants
  • The Snæfellsnes peninsula
  • And much more

Most people complete the route in a week to 10 days. We wouldn’t recommend much less than that. However, you can take as much time as you want.

2. The Golden Circle: One of Iceland’s most popular routes

The Golden Circle is the name for the iconic travel itinerary in southwest Iceland. Along the route, you’ll visit 3 favourite destinations:

  • Gullfoss, a majestic and wild waterfall
  • Geysir geothermal area, with some of Iceland’s most impressive volcanic phenomena
  • Þingvellir National Park

The Golden Circle route is about 300 km (180 miles) and most people complete it in a day or two. If you’re driving an EV, you’ll usually be able to do the whole itinerary on a single charge from Reykjavík.

If not, you can find charge points at car parks in Þingvellir and Geysir. You’ll pass plenty on the road too.

3. The Arctic Coast Way: Explore Iceland’s north

The Arctic Coast Way runs across the north coast of Iceland. It takes you through some more remote areas of the country, along the rugged shore of the Arctic Ocean.

Along the way, you’ll see:

  • The towns of Akureyri and Húsavík, the oldest settlement in Iceland
  • The Ásbyrgi canyon
  • Tröllaskagi peninsula, with its mountains and fjords
  • Miles of scenic coastline

Like everywhere else in Iceland, you’ll find electric vehicle charging points along the way. For instance, there’s a Tesla supercharger in Akureyri, as well as many public chargers across the region.

What are the advantages of renting an electric car in Iceland?

In this guide, we’ve shared some of the key things to know about driving an electric vehicle in Iceland. But is it worth renting one?

It definitely is. Here are some of the best bits about renting an EV in Iceland:

  • Fuelling and running your car is much more affordable. On a road trip, you might have to fill up your petrol car every couple of days, with costs often adding up to hundreds of euros. With an EV, you can refuel much more cheaply in Iceland—and often it’s even free.
  • Driving an EV is much better for the environment. Many EVs don’t have any emissions at all, as they don’t use fossil fuels. And as 100% of Iceland’s electricity is renewable, you can be confident your environmental impact will be low.
  • Modern electric cars have all the technology and gadgets you need. From sat navs to robust security, modern EVs are fully equipped to improve your driving experience.
  • Parking fees are cheaper too. In Reykjavík, for instance, EVs are charged less for city centre parking.

There are many great reasons to rent an electric car in Iceland. Explore our range of electric cars here.

Skoda 100% EV rental car in Iceland

Frequently asked questions about driving electric cars in Iceland

Got more questions about driving or renting an EV in Iceland? We answer some common queries below.

Is electric car charging free in Iceland?

Charging an EV is often free in Iceland. For instance, any hotels and destinations, including the Blue Lagoon, offer complimentary charging.

However, not all chargers are free. If you’re using charge points run by On or Ísorka, for instance, you’ll need to pay.

How much does it cost to charge an electric car in Iceland?

Charging an electric car in Iceland is much more cost-effective than fuelling a petrol car.

In many cases, you can fully charge an EV for as little as €25. If you were fuelling a petrol vehicle, it might cost you 3 times that for the same distance.

Is it easy to charge a Tesla in Iceland?

It’s easy to charge a Tesla in Iceland. There are currently 7 Tesla superchargers across the country, with little more than 250 km (150 miles) between them. But you can also use domestic or other public chargers too.

Are Teslas popular in Iceland?

The Tesla Model Y is Iceland's most common vehicle and the country's best-selling personal car in 2022. So, it’s fair to say that Teslas are pretty popular!

Do US car chargers work in Iceland?

Electric vehicles can usually be charged with the following cables:

  • Type 2 chargers. These have 7 round pins and are the standard in Europe.
  • Type 1. These have 5 pins and are the most common option in the US.

If you’re travelling to Iceland from the US, it’s not worth bringing your EV charger with you. Instead, every EV vehicle that you rent will come with a relevant cable.

Are there a lot of charging stations in Iceland?

There are many charging stations in Iceland. Ísorka alone operates over 3,000 charging points across the country—and that’s just one company.

Should I rent an electric vehicle in Iceland?

Renting an electric car in Iceland is more affordable, better for the environment, and it gives you a superior driving experience overall. There’s no good reason not to rent one!

How much is the new per-kilometer tax?

Starting from January 1, 2024, Icelandic Authorities have introduced a new Road Tax. The purpose of this tax is to contribute to the construction and maintenance of the Icelandic road system.

Under this new Per-km Tax system, Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) are charged ISK 2 per kilometer (approximately Euro 0.014), while electric cars face a rate of ISK 6 per kilometer (approximately Euro 0.04). Conventional fossil fuel cars will have this tax added in the price of petrol or diesel.

As part of the regulations, Europcar Iceland is required to apply this Per-km Tax upon the return of rental cars, as it is based on the total distance driven. Therefore, we will be charging you for this additional cost after the return of the rental vehicle.

Explore Iceland in an electric vehicle with Holdur Car Rental

See the Land of Fire and Ice from behind the wheel of an electric car. With Höldur, it’s easy to find the perfect vehicle for you.

We’re the largest car rental operator in Iceland, with over 7,000 vehicles and rental outlets across the country. If you want to drive an EV, you can choose between Tesla, Renault, Volkswagen, and other models.

Whichever you pick, you’ll benefit from our professional service and our decades of experience.

Explore our range of EVs to book your trip.