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10,000 mile challenge for Nissan LEAF

10,000 mile challenge for Nissan LEAF

Peter Hayward, 2017-05-01

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ELECTRIC vehicle specialists Plug In Adventures have created a modified Nissan LEAF that will be the first all-electric car to enter the 10,000 mile Mongol Rally.

The LEAF AT-EV (All Terrain Electric Vehicle), is based on the latest 30kWh LEAF Acenta and the drivetrain and suspension are standard apart from a raised ride height to cope with rough terrain.

Heavy duty Maxsport tyres on Speedline wheels give better performance when the going gets tough, and plates have been welded underneath to protect the suspension.

The special LEAF has also been fitted with a thick aluminium sump guard.

The rear seats have been removed to save weight and give extra storage space, and a modified roof rack provides external storage, plus mounting for a Lazer LED light bar to produce high power low-voltage lighting for remote areas.

The Mongol Rally, which this year starts on July 16, is more of an adventure than a timed event and vehicles are set up to give long distance comfort.

As a result, the driver and front passenger space of the LEAF is unmodified apart from the addition of rubber floor mats, and a fire extinguisher and medical kit have been integrated into the boot.

The modifications were carried out by leading UK high performance engineering company RML of Wellingborough, Norhamptonshire.

Plug In Adventures' founder Chris Ramsey said: "The Mongol Rally is our most challenging electric vehicle drive to date, but it's one we've been planning for a number of years.

"Not only will we face a dwindling number of EV chargers the further east we go, the terrain also becomes more difficult.

"Using a LEAF was an obvious decision for me though. I'm very familiar with the car and it's always been reliable and dependable.

"It also has the largest network of rapid charging options in Europe, and will accept a 240v Commando connection in remote areas when fast-charge options are gone, so that I will still be able to charge the battery and keep going.

"The journey is about the experience, not reaching the destination in a fast time. I can't wait to get out on the road and introduce more people to the advantages of electric vehicles, whatever country they're from!"

Chris, who set up Plug In Aventures from his base in Aberdeen, plans to make regular stops along the way to promote the benefits of running all-electric vehicles in the countries he passes through.

If successful, the LEAF will become the first electric vehicle to complete the gruelling challenge across Asia.

A short drive in the LEAF AT around an off-road driving centre showed just how capable and quick it could be when the going got rough.

The standard suspension coped with potholes, steep slopes, gravel and water with great ease, despite the fact that it's only two wheel drive.

Chris will be using the What3Words platform to log the locations of some of the uncharted charging stations along the way, so that future EV drivers traversing the region can reap the benefit.

This new mapping system uses three random words to locate any single one of trillions of six metre by six metre squares anywhere in the world.

By linking it to sat nav, inputting any location can be done simply and quickly by voice.

Nissan's director of electric vehicles Gareth Dunsmore said: "Few Nissan LEAF owners have been more vocal or accomplished than Plug In Adventures, who have demonstrated that electric vehicles can do so much more than the daily commute. We applaud this ambitious challenge and wish them a safe and enjoyable journey."

"Since we launched the LEAF in 2010, our customers have collectively driven over three billion kilometres, saving more than 500 million kilograms of CO2 emissions in the process. Our ‘Electrify the World' initiative connects stories from these people who are living an electric lifestyle."

Plug In Adventures was founded by Chris Ramsey in 2011 and was born from a combined passion for adventure and electric vehicles.

Comprising a group of EV enthusiasts based in Scotland, its aim is to engage with the public in unique and different ways, championing electric vehicles.

It's no stranger to putting electric cars through epic drives and in September 2015, took just two days to do the LEJOGLE challenge - 1,652-miles from John O'Groats to Land's End and back in a standard Nissan LEAF, using only publicly available charging points.

Then in April 2016, a team completed the North Coast 500 in a LEAF, covering a 516 mile circuit around the Highlands of Scotland.

The Mongol Rally first started in 2004 and is a 10,000 mile charity drive across the mountains, desert and steppe of Europe and Asia.

Each team in the Mongol Rally is expected to raise a minimum of £1,000 for charity.

The rules state that participants must drive a small, sub-1.0-litre engine car as it will make the event more of a challenge. The drive is unsupported with no ‘on the road backup' and participants are expected to get themselves out of trouble.

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