Nissan Leaf with 130km range completes 16,000km Mongol Rally
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Scottish husband and wife team Chris and Julie Ramsey crossed the Mongol Rally finish line in Ulan-Ude on Saturday to become the first entrants to complete the trans-continental challenge in an all-electric vehicle – a modified 2016 Nissan Leaf dubbed the AT-EV (All-Terrain Electric Vehicle).
Chris and Julie left the rally start line at Goodwood Motor Circuit in the UK on July 16 and traveled 13,000km through 13 countries, charging their car 111 times for less than $180 in electricity costs to reach the finish line.
“There were a number of detractors who told me an electric car isn’t capable of long distance journeys,” said Chris Ramsey.
“After thousands of miles and almost zero problems, I can tell you that is not the case. This has been the absolute trip of a lifetime, and I can’t believe we’re now at the finishing line."
“In terms of vehicle reliability, the car’s been brilliant. We’ve had one puncture, one damaged alloy wheel, a mud flap came off and someone stole one of our stickers. That’s it.”
At the beginning of the trip through Europe, Chris and Julie had the use of an extensive rapid charger network that can provide an 80 per cent battery charge in just 30 minutes.
However, once they got into Bulgaria and beyond, they faced a dwindling number of rapid charge options and instead turned to a variety of alternatives for electric power. These included bars, cafes, hotels, hostels, a barbershop, a post office, garages, car dealerships, a tractor showroom, a police station, and three fire stations in Russia.
They even had a trained electrician plug their Leaf directly into an electricity pylon in the middle of the woods in Siberia.
The longest stretch the couple did on a single charge with their fully-loaded vehicle was 185km, pulling in to charge with 6 per cent capacity left. On average Chris and Julie were logging 150km between charges, keeping enough spare battery power once they got to the charging locations in case they needed to find an alternate energy source.
Chris and Julie said they were amazed by the goodwill of people they meet during their travels, only paying for electricity at a handful of charges. Adding that rarely did anyone turn down their request to plug in their car, and on top of that they were frequently offered drinks, food and even accommodation for the night.
“We’ve been shown some of the best hospitality we could have hoped for,” said Chris Ramsey.
“One example that sticks out was when we turned up at a Nissan dealer in Russia at 2am. There was a chap waiting for us and he plugged our car in securely in the workshop, then led us into the showroom where he gave us tea, food and comfy sofas to sleep on.”
“There were of course a couple of low points. Illness hit us in the later stages of the journey which was hard, but other than that, it’s been fine. Some of the longer charge times at petrol stations in the middle of nowhere left us feeling a bit low, but then when you pull into a small town or village and you’re greeted warmly by the locals – it just lifts you up and it’s such a thrill.”
Their Nissan Leaf will now join other Mongol Rally entrants’ on a cargo train back across the continent to Estonia, where Chris and Julie will continue the drive back to the UK. In total the pair will clock up more than 16,000km during the trip.
Countries travelled through:
1. Scotland (leaving their Aberdeen home)
2. England (departing from Goodwood Circuit Mongol Rally start on 16 July)
14. Russia (Ulan-Ude finishing line on 9 September)
Proposed return journey (late September to early October):
Kilometers traveled (as of 9 Sept)
12,900km (including Aberdeen to Goodwood Motor Circuit)
111 vehicle charges
26 were ‘rapid’ (80 per cent charge in 30 minutes)
15 were ‘fast’ (Mennekes Type 2 for a 4 to 5 hour charge)
The rest using domestic plug sockets (12-14 hour charge)
Total cost of electricity to charge the Leaf AT-EV: Less than $180 estimated