The Long Way Up is a superb case study into renewables
Having watched the original Long Way Round and Long Way Down series' in the 2000s, I was stoked to see The Long Way Up is so much more than just a road trip.
2020 has been a bit of a surprise. It's been a surprise mostly for the wrong reasons, but in a surprising turn of events I received a gift in the form of a trailer about a month ago from two names that I hadn't seen combined since 2007. Charlie Boorman and Ewan McGregor's return to the comedy, motorcycle, travel docu-series is heartwarming but bitter sweet. And that's revealed in Episode 1, which was released this Friday past (20th of September) on Apple TV+, a service which is offered free for a year with all Apple products sold in today's world.
I won't spoil the show too much because to be frank I want you all to watch it. I'm not necessarily a fan of non-fiction TV but I wouldn't always say that The Long Way series is non-fiction TV (despite that it is very much reality). I do need to mention though that the 13,000 mile journey Charlie and Ewan take on the show is especially special (and bittersweet as mentioned above) because Charlie had quite a serious tumble from a bike in 2018. His leg essentially had spikes pretruding from it to keep the bone from shattering for almost 6 months. And to do enough rehab to be completing a journey of such magnitude only 12 months later is astounding.
But this is Engine Economics, we don't do movie or TV reviews, we talk money. And I thought it appropriate to talk about The Long Way Up today because of the context of the show. The Argentina to Southern United States is completed on pure renewables. Yes, that's right. Ewan and Charlie do the journey on two prototype electric only Harley Davidsons and their crew follow them in two Rivian R1T utes (or trucks if you're from 'Merica). Both types of vehicle are not in production yet and held vins ending in 001 or 002. In fact there was a fear that the Rivian trucks weren't going to be ready in time for the show.
Now Ewan and Charlie spend the first couple of episodes on The Long Way Up running into troubles with range and charge (as do the production team). The bikes only have a maximum of 100miles on one charge in range and the trucks have 200. That's a problem when you're going through some of the least densley populated deserts and ice fields on earth. Argentina and Chile in fact are so remote and cold in some places that you'd just disappear without a peep.
The result is complaints, and huge issues with scheduling. But here's the thing, The Long Way Round and The Long Way Down had the same problems with scheduling for different reasons. Both the bikes and vehicles (which had combustion engines) in those series had huge mechanical issues. So if anything I think that the fact that they're having these issues and not those same mechanical issues is a brilliant testament to the reliability of electric vehicles.
Source: Harley Davidson
It also speaks to the future of both Harley Davidson and Rivian. Harley Davidson is classically thought of as a combustion engine manufacturer. The fact that they were able to produce prototypes that can do this says a great deal about the vehicle designers and engineering department at Harley. That company has great things waiting for it in the future, especially when they realise that electric vehicle opportunity.
But I think the more interesting inclusion in the show is Rivian. If you read my article about Tesla this week you'll know I have serious fears for that company. They came to market very quick and in most cases have failed to capitalise on their huge advantage in research and development and time. Worse still the company is trading at a stupidly overvalued level on the US markets. With that in mind, I know Tesla are going to be around for decades. I just don't think they're going to be anywhere near the size or have anywhere near the hype they've had over this past decade.
Rivian on the other hand are the underdogs. They're yet to put a car into production but they've carved a perfect niche for themselves in the market. They're looking to be the world's next Land Rover. The future of utility. And it makes The Long Way Up the perfect opportunity for Rivian to be involved in and capitalise on. And boy do they capitalise on it.
The Long Way Up puts the Rivian R1T through the harshest environments on earth. Both extremes in temperature and terrain and honestly? It doesn't have a hitch. The biggest problem the show has is with range, but even then by utilising a feature on the car which is a stroke of genius for utility you can charge the car by towing it. That's just bloody practical. And it's thinking like that which makes me excited for Rivian's future.
It also proves that renewables, which five years ago were a pure act of science fiction, are now not just a plausible energy source but a viable one. It proves to the naysayers that complain about the lack of charging stations or the charge times that if you can do it in the sparcest environments on earth? You can do it on a highway between two cities or for a daily commute.
Is this an investment opportunity though? Not yet. The companies which I think are doing the best work in the next generation of quality renewables are all private start ups at the moment which means you can't really be a part of them. However with today's announcement of the all-electric Ford F150 or with the edition of cars like the BMW iX3 to the range there is an oppotunity to leverage in automotive in general and especially those companies which are investing big time into this renewable field (like Ford, BMW, Audi and Tata) until some of those promising start-ups decide they're big enough to pursue a public strategy.
There is also an opportunity to invest in suppliers who support those next generation start-ups as a long term strategy. Because I can promise, alike to Tesla? The volume of these start-ups might start small but will very quickly turn them into genuine real world competitors.
The Long Way Up is the perfect case study into renewable energy and Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman, while getting a bit on in age, are the ambassadors for the future. And it's telling that the renewable energy boom is only just beginning. Not just that, but it's a bit of fantastic entertainment in the process. If this was a review? (which it isn't) the lads get 5 stars from me.
Engine Economics is your new destination on DriveTribe for money and motor vehicles.