- Nissan Leaf with 30 kWh battery. First 100% electric car to cross the African continent.

Why battery electric cars are better than ICE & hydrogen powered cars

25w ago


When traveling through Africa in an electric car, one of the most important aspects that contributed to the trips’s success, were the people I met on the way. Even during the planning process, I knew I would not be able to reach the end of the continent without the help of Africans and their good will. 

Charge number 73 in Kenieba, Mali.

I usually arrived unannounced, looking for sockets and electricity. At the locations, I had to convince people to allow me to connect my car to their electrical outlets for the night. For example, in the village of Boromo, Burkina Faso, which is in between Wagadugu and Bobo Dioulasso, also the certain charging points. I had to drive a section of over 350 kilometres between them. It’s virtually impossible to cross such a distance on one battery of my African LEAF. I had to find a source of energy somewhere along the way, literally in the middle of the African bush. Maps and GPS's didn’t offer me much hope. I concentrated on driving economically, conserving energy during every minute of the drive. Every kilometre of range was precious. I was lucky in that the roads were flat, with smooth asphalt and no major elevation which helped immensely. After driving a little over 180 kilometres, I reached the village of Boromo. The battery had 51% of energy left. It was one of many records I broke in terms of the car's range. I was directed to a house in the depths of the village where there was electricity available. 

At the village of Boromo.

The electrical installation was very poor, I tripped the fuses constantly and they were unable to withstand a long charge. But thanks to the owners of the property, I managed to top up an additional 20% of my battery and travel the following day, 190 kilometres to Bobo Dioulasso.

It was at Boromo, where I realised two things: firstly, I was only able to continue my journey with the help of people. Secondly, that having an electric car offered me a great amount of freedom. I had reached the village of Boromo, after travelling almost 10,000 kilometres from Cape Town. During that entire route, I had never charged my car from a dedicated charging station for an electric car. Such stations simply didn’t exist. Despite this, I was able to continue. If I had been driving a petrol or hydrogen-powered car, with no gas or hydrogen station en route, I would not have been able to travel such distance. Traditional cars means we are totally dependant on gas stations and large corporations that provide the fuel. The same can be said for hydrogen cars. To drive such a car means having to find a hydrogen station. Someone has to produce the hydrogen, deliver it and then sell it to me. 

Total petrol station ;)

In the case of a full electric car, energy sources are essentially everywhere. Look around us; homes, shops, schools, train stations….you name it. There are electrical sockets everywhere. When we visit our relatives, families, we can recharge our cars there. When we go on vacation, we can charge our car at the campsite, or hotel. 

An electric car gives us freedom but also allows us the opportunity to choose. In order to drive it, we do not have to drive to a charging station, we can choose whatever outlets available to us. Usually of course at our own home. Further more, if there had not been any electricity during the whole of my African route, I would have been able to continue. With the necessary photovoltaic equipment, I could simply charge the car using the sun.  

9 of the PV panels would allow me to charge the car.

Besides the undeniable facts that electric cars are clean and ecological, we can also derive great comfort and pleasure from driving it. I believe that the true freedom such a vehicle gives us, will sooner (rather than later) reach even the hearts of its biggest opponents. 

And it's because of that….that this is the car I want to continue driving. 

Crossing the equator in Gabon.