Home » Arctic Trucks Just Reached The South Pole With An Electric Crossover

Arctic Trucks Just Reached The South Pole With An Electric Crossover

South Pole Expedition Ts
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Once upon a time, Top Gear was known for its fanciful races involving god-tier cars and plenty of hilarious hijinx. A memorable trip to the North Pole saw May and Clarkson in a Toyota Hilux modified by Arctic Trucks, racing Hammond and a pack of sled dogs. Now, a husband and wife duo have achieved an even greater feat, driving all the way from the North Pole to the South Pole. Even better, they pulled off the icy journey behind the wheel of an EV!

The vehicle for the journey was a Nissan Ariya, though not one you would find on a dealer lot. While the drivetrain and battery remained stock, the electric SUV was modified by Arctic Trucks to mount mighty 39-inch BF Goodrich off-road tires. It also scored tow hitches and some reinforcement to the underbody to better handle off-road conditions. The tires are a hilarious addition to the Ariya, buried under monster plastic guards that completely overtake the front fender and rear quarter panels. Ultimately, though, they give the Ariya a remarkably tough and purposeful stance, particularly when paired with the gorgeous Sunrise Copper Pearl paint job.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Chris Ramsey and Julie Ramsey are the duo behind the feat, and they reached the South Pole on December 15th. The journey started at the 1823 Magnetic Pole on March 29 this year, also known as the North magnetic pole. It carried them through Canada, North and South America, and then all the way on to both the geographic and ceremonial South Poles, covering over 18,000 miles in the process. The duo were joined by two Toyota Hilux support vehicles also modified by Arctic Trucks, with the total crew counting five members. In Antarctica, it’s dangerous to go alone.

As shown in the duo’s videos from the surface of Antarctica, the huge tires do a great job of carrying the Ariya in the harsh and frigid terrain. The wide rubber adds plenty of ground clearance and deftly floats the vehicle over the snow. The Ariya’s heated front windscreen also proved a useful feature to maintain forward visibility in the cold, though the side windows would freeze up unless the heating was run on a high setting.

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As you might expect, charging infrastructure in the Antarctic is pretty woeful. With no effective government and minimal corporate investment, Antarctica is one of the worst places if you’re looking to charge the typical EV. The pair got around this with a set of solar panels that were used to charge the Ariya during rest breaks. This could be done around the clock, as at this period of time, Antarctica is in constant sunlight. Generators were also used to recharge the EV when solar wasn’t sufficient due to the weather. The rest of the journey wasn’t so tough; on stretches in North America, regular EV chargers sufficed. Though, it bears noting, the mods to the Ariya did impact range.  Where it would typically achieve 272 miles on a charge as stock, the massive tires cut that down to the 150-200 mile range.

On the Earth’s southernmost land mass, the pair slept in heavily-insulated tents to stay warm. The Ariya itself was also given a tent at times, and often packed around with snow to help keep it protected from the wind during charging stops. This trick helped maintain the Ariya’s temperature, so less energy was needed to heat the battery into its optimal charging range of 77 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

Indeed, cold temperatures can make life hard for an EV, with lithium-ion batteries in particular preferring to operate closer to room temperature. Despite the chill and the Ariya seeing temperatures below -20 degrees, the Ariya was able to remain operational, as a credit to its thermal management system. Timing also likely played a role here. It’s currently summer in Antarctica, where temperatures sit around -20 degrees in the cold interior. It can get much colder in Winter, on the order of 112 degrees below zero. The coldest recorded temperature was -128.56 F on July 21st, 1983. As well as the Ariya performed while chilled, one would suspect it would struggle to get much juice out of its battery pack in those temperatures.

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We’re able to see photos and read about the journey by virtue of the Ramsey’s uplink to the Iridium satellite communications network, which covers 100% of the Earth’s surface. The pair had to turn off communications in the vicinity of the pole itself to avoid disrupting sensitive science experiments in the area, but were able to resume connection upon leaving the designated radio-quiet area.

Overall, the journey doesn’t really inspire us to drive from the North Pole to the South Pole. That sounds like a long run without anywhere good to party at the end of it. It does, however, make us want to build a jacked-up Ariya to take on crazy trails, because that thing just looks awesome on 39-inchers. In any case, here’s to a great feat that none of us expected from Nissan’s humble EV SUV!

Image credits: Nissan

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Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
3 months ago

Shoot, it’s winter in Texas, so…I wanna know the specs on that solar panel array before the next storm, please.

Turkina
Turkina
4 months ago

That copper color needs to be on a lot more cars. White, black, silver, gray. Blah.

MrLM002
MrLM002
4 months ago

If that lift and those size tires were a factory option I’d probably get an Ariya.

However since that’s extremely unlikely to ever happen I really don’t care about this. If you give Artic Trucks enough money and any automobile of your choosing they could give it a big lift and mongo tires.

Fuzzyweis
Fuzzyweis
4 months ago

I feel like “The Long Way up was a much more legitimate run, using a lot of level 1 charging, just a couple of dudes on electric motorcycles, ok one is a Jedi but that probably only helped with the errant Stormtrooper they might run into around Panama..

The amount of gas support vehicles for this Ariya run needs a giant asterisk.

Marlin May
Marlin May
4 months ago
Reply to  Fuzzyweis

How much gasoline / diesel was needed?

Lokki
Lokki
4 months ago
Reply to  Marlin May

We don’t talk about that round here, stranger. This here is ‘lectric cars is wonderful’ country.

You won’t see this story here:

At the beginning of last week, several bus services in Oslo were cancelled. The reason was that the new electric buses could not cope with the cold.
On Monday, about 50 [electric] city buses were cancelled and taken out of service. The bus company Ruter reported that the range of the electric buses was not as good as usual because of the cold weather. It was about 12 degrees below zero C (10° F).

https://nordictimes.com/the-nordics/norway/electric-buses-could-not-withstand-the-cold-in-oslo/

Fuzzyweis
Fuzzyweis
4 months ago
Reply to  Lokki

I’ve often wondered what the overall efficiency is of like a regular Honda Civic in Michigan in the winter vs say a Model 3, when the thermal output of the engine is actually useful for heating, and the Model 3 has to use power to keep it’s batteries warm, and then use the heater to keep the meatsacks inside warm. Think the Model 3 goes down to like 80mpge, but the Civic’s thermal efficiency goes way up too.

Marlin May
Marlin May
4 months ago
Reply to  Lokki

“We don’t talk about that round here, stranger. This here is ‘lectric cars is wonderful’ country.” To me, that claim seems disingenuous at best, when you’re referring to a website that really shows love for all sorts of vehicles and drivetrains and doesn’t shy away from pointing out the drawbacks of any of them, environmental, mechanical or otherwise.

Fuzzyweis
Fuzzyweis
4 months ago
Reply to  Marlin May

18,000 miles with 2 Toyota Hilux support trucks, even if they were diesel, say at best they’re getting 20mpg, which if they were modified is probably less. That’s 1,800 gallons of diesel, at least. Not counting what the generator used to recharge when needed.

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
4 months ago

I’ve been saving up a good rant on the difference between the planet’s magnetic poles and its geomagnetic poles for an occasion like this, only to find myself blindsided by their presumably pragmatic decision start at one of the historic locations of the north magnetic pole instead of either current option.

Well, maybe next time. I imagine the rant will keep.

MrLM002
MrLM002
4 months ago
Reply to  Mike Harrell

*Looks at L1 Socket*

“LIMITED POWER!”

Turkina
Turkina
4 months ago
Reply to  Mike Harrell

Lack of reliable sea ice coverage. Of course, they took ferries to avoid things like the Drake Passage and the Darien Gap, but if you wanted to hit the North Pole, you’d have to do it in the latter part the Arctic winter, no solar backup, and so on. Dangerous.
But, the 1823 magnetic north pole is kind of a cheat. Close to the furthest south the pole got, and that’s not even taking into account the terrain.

MrLM002
MrLM002
3 months ago
Reply to  Mike Harrell

Sorry, my previous reply was supposed to be to Fuzzyweis above about the long way up.

Twas a starwars and long way up reference,

Mthew_M
Mthew_M
4 months ago

Can’t wait to read the comments from people who had the point of this exercise go right over their head.

Would be curious to know how much less fuel the Ariya used over the trip than the supporting Hilux’s.

EVDesigner
EVDesigner
4 months ago
Reply to  Mthew_M

I’d like to know how many people will say “but I tow my boat 5000 miles to the North Pole once a year, this range won’t be enough!”.

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
4 months ago
Reply to  EVDesigner
Lokki
Lokki
4 months ago
Reply to  Mthew_M

Say, what IS the point of this exercise? It went right over MY head.

I mean, if you spend enough money and have sufficient support staff and vehicles. You could make this sam trip, with…I don’t know, maybe dog sleds?

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
4 months ago

Never bet against hairless apes when they get an itch to do something

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
4 months ago

Read this story yesterday, and still haven’t seen anything mentioned how they “drove” the 600 miles from tip of SA to Antarctica across the southern ocean.

Tbird
Tbird
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

How did they get through the Darien Gap as well?

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
4 months ago
Reply to  Tbird

Yeah, when I read it yesterday I hoped when the story was covered here they would at least mention the 2 gaps in details….

Mthew_M
Mthew_M
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

Obviously, the big balloon tires have given the lowly Nissan boat capabilities, a-la the Sherp. (/s, in case it’s not obvious)

V10omous
V10omous
4 months ago

 Generators were also used to recharge the EV when solar wasn’t sufficient due to the weather.

This seems like a pretty significant caveat to the #sustainability and #climate hashtags.

Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
4 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

Don’t forget the diesel support vehicles.

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
4 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

Traveling with an army of ICE vehicles and consuming 10,000s gallons of diesel to “tell” everyone how great EVs and just as capable as ICE cars should even convince you an EV truck can meet your needs LOL

V10omous
V10omous
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

Look for me towing a 1000 gallon diesel tank & generator behind my Lightning someday soon!

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

Roll, roll roll that coal

Gently down Antarctic way

Merrily merrily, merrily, merrily

Do not as I do but as I say.

OverlandingSprinter
OverlandingSprinter
4 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

I realize you’re poking fun, but it’s fair to point out diesel fuel can be sourced from non-mineral sources.

I have not read the original article(s), so I do not know if the support vehicles and generator used renewable diesel.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
4 months ago

If they were using renewable diesel to make the ICE powered trucks carbon neutral it makes the effort to drag the EV along even more pointless.

Also: hey everybody, liquid fuels can be carbon neutral when burned in an ICE! We should probably ban that technology because it can also burn non-carbon neutral fuels.

Dar Khorse
Dar Khorse
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

To be fair, petroleum-fueled vehicles also can’t make this trip without plenty of support and people and equipment and mechanics, etc. I don’t think the point was that EVs are just as capable as ICE cars in every way. The real story is that an EV can operate relatively normally in sub-zero temperatures and can drive through severely limiting conditions without any major malfunctions. To hear many people tell it, they think an EV has to sit in a heated garage for the whole winter because it’s basically useless in sub-freezing temperatures, which hasn’t been my experience at all. If properly warmed up before use, my FIAT 500e sees a 10 – 20% decrease in range, which is comparable to many gasoline powered vehicles and not a huge imposition.

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
4 months ago
Reply to  Dar Khorse

Sure, but could of just explored either pole with an EV instead of doing the whole wasteful journey. Plus since they really did not drive the whole way, how is it different than then any other surface pole to pole expedition, and far short of the one that went all the way around the world 30 yrs ago pole to pole to pole.

From their site.
The Pole to Pole Expedition is an automotive world first, pushing the capabilities of electric vehicles to their limits to showcase and accelerate electric vehicle adoption.

Husband and wife adventurers and EV advocates Chris and Julie Ramsey of Plug In Adventures will explore as sustainably as possible along the 17,000 mile route and work directly with projects to ensure their carbon off setting goes way beyond anything that may be emitted as part of this expedition.

Carbon offsetting via “other” projects, I don’t understand how people can justify a waste of resources by saying we’ll offset it somehow someday via other things.

Dar Khorse
Dar Khorse
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

That’s like saying “They could have demonstrated the practicalities of space travel without making that wasteful trip all the way to the moon.” Sure, but where’s the fun in that?

I think they achieved their goals admirably and tried to lead by example and attempt to offset their carbon footprint as much as they could. If their “wasteful” example (which was probably eclipsed by a few jet-liner trips in terms of carbon footprint) encourages more people to consider an EV or even a hybrid, then I say “well done”.

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
4 months ago
Reply to  Dar Khorse

I think you just came up with their next challenge, get a Saturn V rocket to tow an EV to the moon. OMG the headlines, get an EV you can drive to the moon! Oh wait didn’t a Tesla Roadster already use AutoPilot to go to the sun…

If they only had EVs and drove across Antarctica using only solar and wind to charge the EVs sure that would be worthy.

There are better ways to support the idea not being an oxy moron expedition like theirs.

Dar Khorse
Dar Khorse
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

Well there is a precedent by a gas guzzling El Dorado, so why not?
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=YcJDi-zW_mg&pp=ygUVZWwgZG9yYWRvIHRvIHRoZSBtb29u

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