Long distance, electric car overland expeditions.
A few weeks ago, I watched a 2020 travel series 'Long Way Up' with actors Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman. It is a continuation of the great series 'Long Way Round' from 2004 and 'Long Way Down' from 2007, featuring their journeys on motorbikes around the world and across Africa. McGregor and Boorman's new voyage starts from Ushuaia, Patagonia then goes across the length of South America to Los Angeles, US. As with their previous series, it shows a long journey across the continent, motorized overlanding and thousands of kilometres of road adventures, which I am a huge fan of. In addition, wonderful pictures of the far world, beautiful and often inaccessible roads, people they met on the way and a good sense of humour give a positive vibe of the films.
What is different, is that they replaced their well-used BMW GS’s motorbikes with electric Harley Davidson LiveWires . I have to say that I have no complaints about electric bikes, I believe that it is a route in a good direction. I like electric vehicles, I know they have enormous potential, which I had the opportunity to discover on my own, with, a classic first-generation Nissan Leaf on my journey across the length of Africa in 2018. Having traversed African countries and many various roads where an electric car had never been before, and to many it seemed almost unbelievable, I did have a problem with the 'Long Way Up project'. I found it difficult to accept the way Ewan, Charile and their team performed the expedition. It's not easy to swallow a diesel Mercedes Sprinter accompanying the bikes. Two prototype electric Rivian pickups, also featured on the trip, would definitely be enough support. However, in more difficult places on the route, where charging required a bit more improvisation, the on-call trucks appeared, packed with large diesel power generators, were too much and unbearable for me, significantly spoiling the entire series. It is a pity, because I am convinced that it would be possible to use only electric vehicles without additional support. In my opinion 'Long Way Up' is unlikely to contribute to the electric Harleys popping up like mushrooms as the previous series did with old GSs. Even so, I still enjoyed the new 'Long Way' series. After all, no one has ever ridden electric motorcycles across the South American continent before. I watched the series with even more interest, because I am going to go on a similar tour with my baby Fiat, the so-called Green Beast. Many South America roads are tempting me to go there also with an electric car. This series also provoked me to recall some real electric explorers and their journeys, which I had followed with curiosity.
Louis Palmer, Solartaxi, http://solartaxi.com
In 2007, I followed the absolutely pioneering Solartaxi expedition, organized - as I thought then - by the crazy Swiss traveller Louis Palmer. Within 18 months, the Swiss went around the world in his solar-powered vehicle, visiting 40 countries along the way, covering 54,000 km and, above all, showing that thanks to the technologies already available, such traveling is possible. Someone might be wondering why Solartaxi? The answer is, to reach the largest possible number of recipients and global media interest. As Louis himself said, the story of his journey has reached a billion people around the world. How? It was through his solar taxi, to which he invited the famous and powerful of this world, for example director James Cameroon or UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, to which he invited on selected sections of the route, causing a huge media buzz. Solartaxi is the first trip around the world in an electric car powered by solar energy.
Racing Green Endurance, http://www.racinggreenendurance.com
In 2010, thanks to the camera operator Claudio von Planta - the same one, who shot the 'Long Way' series - I found the Racing Green Endurance expedition, across the Panamerican route from Alaska to Patagonia in South America. The participants of the expedition converted the sports radical SR8 car into an all-electric vehicle called SR0 with a battery pack giving a range of over 400 kilometres. Yes, travellers also used an internal combustion van and a motorcycle to transport the entire team and the mobile camera operator, but the car travelled the route on its own, powered by local power sources along the way. The Racing Green Endurance expedition is the first project in history which used a full electric car to cross the full length of the Panamerican route.
Venturi Global Challenges, Shanghai to Paris, https://www.venturi.com/en/shanghai-to-paris/
Also in 2010, I found the Venturi Global Challenges project and a trip from Shanghai to Paris in a Venturi converted electric Citroen Berlingo with a 70.5 kWh battery pack and a range of 400 kilometres, organized by Frenchman Xavier Chevrin and his partner Géraldine Gabin. The travellers were the first in the world to cross Asia and a large part of Europe without external support in a car charged from the electric socket. It took them just over two months to cover 14,900 kilometres. Along the way, they visited 8 countries. In 2012, Xavier took his modified Berlingo to Africa, where he travelled 5,800 kilometres from Nairobi, Kenya, to Johannesburg, South Africa.
Wiebe Wakker, Plug Me In, https://plugmeinproject.com
In 2016, the Dutchman Wiebe Wakker set off on his electric adventure, 'Plug Me In' on a trip to Australia in a borrowed VW Golf Variant converted into an EV, called the Blue Bandit. Wiebe travelled 95,000 kilometres, visiting 33 countries along the way. He travelled 1,119 days at his own pace. Through a website created by Wiebe, people offered the traveller electric sockets and a meal along the way. In this way, it was hosted by 350 people from Europe, through Asia and as far as Australia. After the expedition was over, he took his Bandit to New Zealand, which he travelled from the top to the bottom.
Marek Kamiński, No Trace Expedition, https://marekkaminski.com
It is also worth mentioning a polar explorer Marek Kamiński, who in 2018 took the standard Nissan Leaf with a 40 kWh battery pack on a trip from Poland to Japan, visiting Russia, Mongolia and China along the way. Marek also decided to return to Poland with his car, driving from Vladivostok through the whole of Russia. In total, during the 'No Trace Expedition' Marek covered 30,000 electric kilometres and he isn't finished yet. He is planning a trip around the world. In an EV of course.