Having contested and won the endurance Cape-to-Cape (C2C) Rally, Iain Robertson is in a great position to report on other long-distance trials but he fears that using a BEV may be fraught with issues, regardless of how well the team may have prepared for them.
You are reading this, because you have a sense of automotive adventure coursing through your veins. Yet, give a whiff of consideration towards the presumed logic of travelling by car from North to South Poles. It is a 17,000mls trek. Even driving at an ambitious average of 30mph, it is going to take more than 566hrs to cover the distance, without accounting for rest halts, ‘fuel’ stops and safety legislation for two drivers in a Battery Electric Vehicle, the new Nissan Ariya. Factor in the recharging stops, which could occupy around 8hrs in a 24hr shift to provide maximum range, and you are looking at 849hrs of total driving time, mishaps and misadventures notwithstanding. Also remember that for the sake of authenticity, which Nissan needs in promotional terms, the Ariya pictured here is only modified in suspension, wheels, tyres and ride height over the standard car. As a road car, its fully-charged range is given as 329mls and, even equipped with a battery heating system, the extremes of temperature at either end of the trek will knock that figure down to a more credible 210mls, or significantly less, even if the wind blows in the right direction.
Nissan Ariya P2P Front
Chris and Julie Ramsey are the adventurers, coffee-loving Chris having spent almost four years planning extensively for the drive, even though the Ariya model, only introduced recently, was never in the initial profile. When I first contested the C2C event, also in a bog-standard road car (a Mazda6 2.0 petrol), in order to compete non-stop, without breaking international speed limits, our team needed to be three-strong (to share the driving) but we only drove from Nordkapp, Norway, the furthest north navigable route, to Cape Tarifa, the southernmost point on Europe’s mainland. It was gruelling. It was also incredibly exciting, not least because we were competing against several other entries, some of which had prior winning experience. Our planning took around a fortnight. In order to cope with breath-taking but extreme terrains and environments, including ice fields, deep snow, steep mountain climbs and inhospitable desert dunes, Iceland-based Arctic Trucks, specialists in polar expedition vehicles, collaborated with Nissan design and engineering teams to prepare the Ariya. There are no changes to the battery, or powertrain, although the most recognisable difference is the adaption of the suspension and addition of 39.0-inch diameter tyres. When coupled with Nissan’s e-4ORCE, an advanced electric all-wheel-control technology, the modifications will enable the expedition car to tackle extreme terrains, while giving Chris and Julie the necessary comfort and control to reach the South Pole.
Nissan Ariya Top
Chris Ramsey, Expedition Leader, commented: “One of the things that underpins our adventures is that we take a standard production EV and aim to make minimal changes to demonstrate clearly its real, everyday capabilities, regardless of where it is being driven. The suspension and widened wheel arches only aid the car’s stability, allowing us to tackle the ends of the earth in style!” A self-confessed coffee lover, Chris will have access to a specially integrated espresso machine with a good supply of sustainable coffee…he’s going to need it. However, he can also capture the beauty of the spectacular environments using a drone that can launch directly from the utility unit on the car’s roof. An additional innovation is the portable, renewable energy unit that will be used to recharge the Ariya in the polar regions. The towable prototype includes a packable, lightweight wind turbine and solar panels that will take advantage of high winds and long daylight hours to provide charge for the EV’s battery, when Chris and Julie take rest stops.
Nissan Ariya From Above
Julie Ramsey, co-driver, commented: “The planning and preparation for Pole-to-Pole has been such a big part of our lives over the past four years, so I am really looking forward to getting the expedition underway in March. We’re going to discover so many interesting initiatives from communities and individuals that are taking positive action against climate change and I’m looking forward to sharing these experiences and stories with everyone. We are doing something that has never been attempted before, a world-first, and ultimately that is what makes it so exciting for us.” If you have ever viewed the well set-up trek made by Clarkson and co. (BBCTV ‘Top Gear’) to the North Pole in a Toyota HiLux pickup truck, also modified by Arctic Trucks, you would have a flavour of just how tough and demanding one element of the trip is going to be. While Julie and Chris may spend some time camping on their trek, a lot of time is going to be spent together inside the Nissan Ariya and, unless they can share the downsides amicably…their relationship may become terrifically tense at times. Contingency planning is going to be vital.
Nissan Ariya P2P Left Side
Conclusion: No matter how you view this extreme test of car, technology and human resourcefulness, it is going to be one of those adventurous treks sure to result in a TV documentary, as well as a well-thumbed book and how many of us would just love to tag along, or make our personal presence felt by competing alongside the Ramsey pair? For Nissan, it is going to be a case of taking the rough with the smooth in the hope of retaining something commercially salvageable. I am feeling the urge…
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