This might be the coolest Nissan Ariya that will ever exist. It’s an extensively modified version of the EV that will drive more than 17,000 miles on its way from pole to pole — with 39-inch BFGs and a custom espresso machine.
Driving from the North Pole to the South Pole will be a first. Not just for an EV but for any vehicle. According to the expedition team, no person or vehicle has ever made the trip, so this is extra ambitious.
With Nissan sponsoring the attempt, you might expect the team to drive one of the company’s more notable off-roaders. The legendary Patrol (sold here as the Nissan Armada) or even a Titan would be a much more natural choice. But the team is using the Nissan Ariya to show off just what the electric model can do.
Pole-to-Pole Nissan Ariya
The custom-built Ariya is going to use the standard electric driveline as it comes from Nissan. That gives the crossover 87 kilowatt-hours of battery capacity and an estimated range of about 270 miles. Crucially, it will be a dual-motor model, so the team will have the e-Force all-wheel-drive system they’ll need in both the muddy and frozen parts of the drive.
Ariya’s 270-mile range estimate might be nothing more than a dream for this particular adventure rig. That’s because it has needed some serious range-sapping upgrades to help it deal with terrain all around the world.
The 39-inch tires from BFGoodrich are probably the biggest ones ever fitted to any EV short of a mining truck. That’s a lot of weight and a lot of leverage for the electric motors to work against, but the team has plenty of experience with that, which we’ll get back to.
To fit the big wheels and tires, the Ariya got a tall suspension lift. There are also huge fender flares to cover the wider rubber. The Icelandic polar experts at Arctic Trucks helped out with the suspension mods to make sure the Ariya was up to the task.
BYOC: Bring Your Own Charge
17,000 miles and a range of 270 miles means an optimistic 63 full battery charges. To help deal with range anxiety and the complete lack of plugs in the more remote parts of the trip, the Pole to Pole team has a trick in store.
They’ll be bringing along their own portable green energy tech. A trailer behind the Ariya will haul a lightweight wind turbine as well as solar panels. That will let them take advantage of the long polar days and brutal winds.
Experienced Electric Adventurers
So who sets out on an adventure like this in an EV? Say hello to Chris and Julie Ramsey, adventurers with loads of experience in Nissan EVs.
The Ramsey’s first EV trek took place in 2015. The two set out on the 1,652-mile journey across Great Britain, from John O’Groats to Land’s End and then back again — in a 24 kilowatt-hour early Nissan Leaf.
In 2017, the Ramseys became the first to complete the Mongol Rally in an EV. The Mongol Rally is a 10,000-mile trek from Goodwood Circuit in the UK to Ulan-Ude in Siberia. That run was made in a 30-kilowatt-hour Nissan Leaf fitted with beefier tires and welded reinforcements cutting into the original car’s 155-mile range. Ramsey said that trip gave the car around 90 miles per charge.
The Ramseys didn’t get into too much detail about the interior changes to their Ariya, but they did cover the most important. There is a weather station and an integrated drone, but the key piece of kit is the built-in espresso machine, along with a healthy supply of coffee to keep the team as charged up as the car.
One of the things that underpins all the adventures we do is that we take a standard production EV and aim to make minimal changes to clearly demonstrate its real, everyday capabilities, regardless of where you are driving it.Chris Ramsey, Expedition Leader
The team is currently in Reykjavik doing testing and making final preparations for the trip. The Pole to Pole expedition starts in March and will cover 17,000 miles, three continents, and 14 countries, from the 1996 position of the magnetic North Pole in the Arctic through North, Central, and South America before crossing to Antarctica. Follow the journey here.