As if tackling the gruelling, 10,000-mile Mongol Rally wasn’t tough enough – adventurer Chris Ramsey will be upping the ante, competing this year in an electric Nissan Leaf.
With just a few modifications, EV evangelist Ramsey, 40, from Aberdeen, and his wife Julie, will set off from Goodwood on July 16 on an adventure they expect will take up to two months to compete.
Not only will they be forced to tackle tough terrain and unfamiliar roads, they’ll also have the added challenge of finding somewhere to charge up every 90 miles. Here Chris explains why he chose to take on the epic drive in the first electric car ever to enter the rally.
What is the Mongol Rally?
It’s a 10,000-mile charity drive across the mountains and deserts of Europe and Asia.
Each team is expected to raise a minimum of £1,000 for charity. The rules state that participants must drive a sub-1.0-litre car as it will make the event more of a challenge with a greater chance of a breakdown meaning drivers can interact with locals along the way. The drive is unsupported with no backup all the way from Goodwood to Ulan-Ude.
Why did you chose to do this in a Nissan Leaf?
This is the first time anybody’s ever entered the Mongol Rally in an electric vehicle or even attempted to do it, so this is unique. There are 330 teams entered so far and not one is electric. People think the biggest challenge will be the charging infrastructure and how to get a charge, but for me it’s actually going to be crossing borders. This car’s averse to being charged from any kind of angle, from any kind of electric source, so for me the tough bit will actually be crossing borders like those of Russia and Ukraine.
Have you done anything like this in an electric car before?
I’ve completed a number of electric vehicle adventures in Nissan Leafs. I’ve done John O’Groats to Land’s End and back in just over 48 hours, and I was the first person to complete the North Coast 500, which is the new ‘Route 66’ of Scotland. The Mongol Rally, for me, was always the next challenge.
— Nissan Electric (@NissanElectric) May 2, 2017
I’m going to be travelling about 90 to 100 miles per charge and the rally is all about an adventure and having a long experience, so doing 90 to 100 miles per charge means I can stop and enjoy the whole scenery, the cultures and environments – and meet the public along the way who will hopefully help with charging.
What are you looking forward to most?
We’ve tied in very closely with local governments and one is the Kazakhstani government, so when we get to the capital city, Astana, we’ll be attending a future fuels event.
Mongol Rally announcement – Get behind our team 👍 https://t.co/czpY4Qg4X3
— Plug In Adventures (@pluginadventure) May 1, 2017
We’re going to take the Leaf to the capital city of Kazakhstan and show it off to the public there because Kazakhstan is really looking to get hold of the whole electric vehicle revolution.
How have you prepared the Leaf for the trip?
We’ve done very little in terms of the drivetrain – the car is a bog standard 30kW Nissan Leaf. What we’ve done is strip down the back of the car to reduce the weight, that’s taken it down by about 34kg, and we’ve prepared the underside of the car with a 6mm aluminium plate to protect the underside on rough terrain. Outside of that, we’ve put a roof rack on the top, some LED lights, and we’ve got some rally tyres for when we get to the rougher stuff. Other than that it is pretty much a bog standard Leaf.
How long do you think the rally will take you?
It’s going to take us about six to eight weeks. We’ve allowed a bit of float in there because it’s about having an adventure, not about getting there first, so we’ve planned so we can stop off at different things along the way. I’m going to have a co-driver with me too. I’m fortunate to have my wife, who’s just as passionate about electric cars as I am, and she loves to travel, so it’ll be a perfect combination.
To keep up to date with Chris and Julie’s adventure, visit Adventurists.com or follow Chris on twitter @pluginadventure or on Facebook.com/pluginadventures