As if driving the 10,000 mile Mongol Rally in a regular petrol/diesel car isn’t difficult enough, one bright spark is set to undertake the adventure in Nissan’s top selling electric vehicle this Summer.
Scotsman Chris Ramsey of Electric Vehicle (EV) company, Plug In Adventures, will make the gruelling journey from Goodwood in the UK through to Mongolia in a modified Nissan LEAF, starting on Sunday July 16th and finishing about two months later.
During the epic journey, Chris will have to make hundreds of regular stops in the electric vehicle (EV) which has a range of only around 150 miles on a single charge.
Although some modifications have been made to the 30kWh Nissan LEAF Acenta for the rally, including raising the suspension slightly, most have been focused on reducing weight and providing more storage space rather than changing the technical specifications of the vehicle.
The driver and front passenger area is unmodified apart from the addition of rubber floor mats while the rear row of seats and rear seat belts have been completely removed, contributing to a 32kg weight loss.
A Fire Extinguisher and Medical Kit have also been integrated into the boot space and a roof rack with a spare tyre has been added in case of punctures. The vehicle also has much chunkier, wider tyres for parts of the route where roads are extremely poor.
Tech Digest was lucky enough to meet Chris in Sussex yesterday and take the modified Nissan Leaf for a spin (quite literally) around a potholed track that will mirror some of the bumpy roads that he will face on his journey (see pictures below).
We were amazed by how well the vehicle handled on the rough terrain although driving such a long way in the vehicle will prove a much greater challenge, especially with the number of stops that he will have to make along the way.
“The Mongol Rally is our most challenging electric vehicle drive to date, but it’s one we’ve been planning for a number of years,” Chris told us at the event in Sussex to mark the unveiling of the specially modified car, dubbed the LEAF AT-EV (All Terrain Electric Vehicle).
“Not only will we face a dwindling number of EV chargers the further east we go, the terrain also becomes more difficult to navigate. Using a Nissan LEAF for this was an obvious decision though. I’m very familiar with the car, it’s always been reliable and dependable for me, and it has the largest network of rapid charging options in Europe.”
But what about finding charging points as he travels East through less developed regions? Isn’t he worried that having to charge so many times will prove difficult and slow him down?
“Not at all. This journey is all about the experience, not reaching the destination in a fast time. I can’t wait to get out on the road and introduce more people to the advantages of electric vehicles.”
Not that Chris is in any stranger to adventures in electric vehicles. In September 2015, his team took just two days to finish the 1,652-mile journey from John O’Groats to Land’s End and back again in a Nissan LEAF 24kWh, using only publicly available and free EV charging points.
A year later and he completed the North Coast 500 in a LEAF 30kWh. The challenging 516-mile circuitous route around the Highlands of Scotland is dubbed‘Scotland’s answer to Route 66’.
For the Mongol Rally Chris plans to make regular stops along the way to promote the benefits of running an all-electric vehicle to residents of the countries he’s passing through.
He’ll also be using the What3Words platform (http://what3words.com/), an app that divides the world into billions of 3 x 3 x 3m blocks to log the locations of some of the uncharted charging network, so that future EV drivers crossing the region can benefit from accurate charging point locations.
Follow @Pluginadventure on Twitter or visit www.facebook.com/pluginadventures to keep up with their journey. The Mongol Rally is a 10,000 mile charity drive organised by The Adventurists (http://www.theadventurists.com).
See my interview with Chris Ramsay in YouTube video below:
See the Nissan LEAF AT-EV in action in YouTube video below: