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Pole to Pole on (Almost) Entirely Electric Power

Scottish adventurers Chris and Julie Ramsey have driven their electric Nissan Ariya from the magnetic North Pole to the Geographic South Pole. The epic adventure took 10 months and 21,000 miles.

Pole to Pole ElectricAt the South Pole; (photo/Pole to Pole EV)
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Chris and Julie Ramsey have just finished their epic pole-to-pole journey in a Nissan Ariya EV. The trip took 10 months and covered more than 21,000 miles. The adventurers and their crew crossed nearly all of North and South America on four wheels, then drove halfway across Antarctica to reach the South Pole with a nearly stock electric Nissan.

Trip 6 Years in the Making

Pole to Pole Electric
(Photo/Pole to Pole EV)

Planning for the trip started back in 2017. The Ramseys had just finished the 8,000-mile Mongol Rally in a Nissan Leaf. After two months of driving the 84-mile rated Leaf across Europe and Asia, they decided it would be great to go even further.

At least this time they got an EV with more range. The two partnered with Nissan to drive a Nissan Ariya e-4orce AWD electric. The Airya offers up to an estimated 286 miles of range, which is a whole new world compared to the Leaf.

That was the range until Arctic Trucks modified it to fit 39-inch BFG all-terrain tires, anyway. Those tires, with lift and wide fenders, about 600 pounds of gear, and a rooftop tent, worked to cut into the maximum range significantly. The motors and battery were the factory components, so they didn’t offer any extra range. The duo posted that their longest run on a charge was 203 miles. (They didn’t talk about range in the subzero temperatures at the poles.)

Big Adventure, Unique Charging Solutions

Pole to Pole Electric
South Pole solar charging; (photo/Pole to Pole EV)

The Ramseys started their trip on March 31 at the 1823 Magnetic North Pole and ended it on Dec. 15 at the Geographic South Pole. To charge at those extremes, they had to try some unique solutions. Some worked, others didn’t.

A wind turbine mounted to a trailer was meant to help charge the Ariya during stops and overnight in the north. But a lack of wind on the Arctic leg of the trip meant they left the trailer behind for much of that segment.

In the Antarctic, they used a large solar array. But the frigid temperatures needed more power — EVs use more power and take more energy to charge in the cold — so a diesel generator helped make up the difference. They kept the vehicles in a tent most nights, too, to try and help keep some heat inside.

Most of Central and South America had EV chargers for topping up on the long drive. Many countries in South America use 220V wall power, too (like Europe), making for faster charging when Level 3 charging wasn’t available.

Epic 10-Month Drive

Pole to Pole Electric
Northern Lights in NWT; (photo/Pole to Pole EV)

We won’t try and detail the 10-month trip. The Ramseys do a great job of that with countless updates and progress reports on their Facebook page. But let’s get into some of the highlights.

After setting off from the North Pole on March 31, it took until May 11 to make it to the bottom of Canada. The Pole to Pole EV Expedition team then took a leisurely trip around the U.S., including stops at Nissan USA’s head office in Tennessee.

Pole to Pole Electric
Somewhere in Ecuador; (photo/Pole to Pole EV)

They finally crossed the border into Mexico at the end of July. It took until Sept. 13 to reach Panama.

The team didn’t try to navigate the treacherous Darién Gap. Most gas-powered expeditions also skip the area because it’s largely considered impassable. Instead, they loaded the Ariya on a cargo ship for a 14-day trip to Cartagena, Colombia. The boat move didn’t skip any north-south distance, though, so it’s more of a bypass than a shortcut.

Pole to Pole Electric Adventure Reaches Antarctica

Pole to Pole Electric
Car camping in Antarctica; (photo/Pole to Pole EV)

On Nov. 26, the team landed on Antarctica, at the Union Glacier Camp. The camp isn’t exactly on the coast, but you don’t have a lot of choices when it comes to bringing vehicles and crew to the frozen continent.

Then, finally, on Dec. 15, they reached the South Pole. The team says it’s the first time the trip has ever been done — gas or electric.

From there, we assume they discovered the worst part of a yearlong adventure trip: You have to drive another two weeks back across the Antarctic to your base camp, then fly everything home.

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