As Bob Dylan says, “the times they are a-changin’.” Besides Formula E, the Electric GT Championship, and other EV competitions, even the grueling Mongol Rally will soon have a zero-emissions car at the start line. We’re talking about the Nissan Leaf AT-EV (All Terrain Electric Vehicle) based on the regular 30-kWh Acenta, but prepared for the long journey by engineering company RML Group based in United Kingdom.
The eco-friendly Nissan will have to cover no less than 10,000 miles (16,000 kilometers) this summer during its trip from U.K. to Mongolia. To make sure it will be ready to withstand the abuse on what will be some very difficult roads, the race-prep Leaf has received a set of Speedline SL2 Marmora wheels wrapped around in Maxsport RB3 skinny tires. Since it will have to tackle some rough terrain, the engineers have installed extra protection by welding plates to the underside of the wishbones, along with fitting braided brake lines, chunky mud flaps, and a 6-mm sump guard made from aluminum.
Considering the Leaf’s trunk is not that big, a roof rack has been added to provide the much-needed extra cargo capacity crucial whenever embarking on such a long trip. It also features an LED light bar, which needless to say will be of great use at night while travelling in the remotest parts of the rally.
Besides tweaking the exterior, the engineers also modified the cabin by taking out the rear seats together with their seatbelts to shave off 32 kilograms (70 pounds). In case something goes terribly wrong, a medical kit and a fire extinguisher have been integrated in the trunk. Rubber floor mats complete the package.
The forthcoming Mongol Rally 2017 represents an interesting send-off for the current Leaf considering the second generation will be out in September. “Electric vehicle advocate” Plug In Adventures had the bright idea to modify a Leaf for the event as a way to promote EVs throughout the rally. Co-founder Chris Ramsey will be making regular stops to highlight the benefits of an electric car.
As with all other teams participating in the rally organized by The Adventurists, the people behind the Leaf AT-EV will have to raise at least £1,000 (almost $1,300) for charity.
The Mongol Rally 2017 will begin on July 16th.
Gallery: Nissan Leaf All Terrain
NISSAN LEAF AT-EV – PLUG IN ADVENTURES GOES ‘OFF THE GRID’ WITH PIONEERING 10,000 MILE MONGOL RALLY ENTRY
Nissan LEAF AT-EV – Plug In Adventures goes ‘off the grid’ in an electric car with pioneering 10,000 mile Mongol Rally entry
London, UK (April 26, 2017) – Electric vehicle advocate Plug In Adventures has created a specially modified Nissan LEAF that will be the first all-electric car to enter the Mongol Rally*, driving 10,000 miles / 16,000 km from the UK to Mongolia in summer 2017.
Dubbed the LEAF AT-EV (All Terrain Electric Vehicle), the vehicle is based on a standard 30kWh Nissan LEAF Acenta, which offers a range of up to 155 miles / 250 km on a single charge**. Key modifications have been made to better equip the car once it reaches the more remote parts of the journey.
The LEAF AT-EV has been fitted with Speedline SL2 Marmora wheels and Maxsport RB3 narrow tyres, for better performance on unsealed roads. Welded plates to the underside of the wishbones, braided brake lines, mudflaps and a 6mm aluminium sump guard add further protection from rough terrain.
A modified roof rack provides external storage and is fitted with a Lazer Triple-R 16 LED light bar to produce 16,400 lumens of supplementary low-voltage forward lighting during the remotest parts of the trip.
As the Mongol Rally isn’t a timed race, the entrants’ vehicles ideally provide long distance comfort. The interior modifications to the LEAF AT-EV have been focused on reducing weight and providing more storage space. The driver and front passenger area is unmodified apart from the addition of rubber floor mats. The rear row of seats and rear seatbelts have been completely removed, contributing to a 32kg weight loss. A Fire Extinguisher and Medi Kit have also been integrated into the boot space.
The modifications to the LEAF AT-EV were carried out by RML Group, a leading high performance automotive engineering company based in the UK.
Chris Ramsey, founder of Plug In Adventures, 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 to navigate.
“Using a Nissan LEAF for this was an obvious decision though. I’m very familiar with the car, it’s always been reliable and dependable for me, and it has the largest network of rapid charging options in Europe. As it will also accept a 240v Commando connection even in the remote areas when my fast-charge options are gone, I can still charge the battery and keep moving. This journey is about the travel experience though, 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 plans to make regular stops along the way to promote the benefits of running an all-electric vehicle to residents of the countries he’s passing through. He’ll also be using the What3Words platform (http://what3words.com/) to log the locations of some of the uncharted charging network, so that future EV drivers traversing the region can benefit from accurate charging point locations.
Gareth Dunsmore, director of Electric Vehicles, Nissan Europe, said: “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.
“Few Nissan LEAF owners have been more vocal or accomplished as Plug In Adventures at demonstrating that electric vehicles can do so much more than the daily commute. We applaud this ambitious driving challenge and wish them a safe and enjoyable journey.”
About Plug In Adventures
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 all things EV-related.
Plug In Adventures is no stranger to putting electric cars through epic drives. In September 2015, they took just two days to finish the 1,652-mile journey from John O'Groats to Land's End and back again in a Nissan LEAF 24kWh, using only publicly available and free EV charging points.
In April 2016 they completed the North Coast 500 in a LEAF 30kWh. The challenging 516-mile circuitous route around the Highlands of Scotland is pitched as ‘Scotland’s answer to Route 66’.
The Mongol Rally is the culmination of this series of EV adventures that Chris created for himself as training – all building to this significant and challenging journey.
Follow @Pluginadventure on Twitter or visit www.facebook.com/pluginadventures to keep up with their journey.
About the Mongol Rally
The Mongol Rally is a 10,000 mile charity drive across the mountains, desert and steppe of Europe and Asia which takes place each summer and first started in 2004. The event is organised by The Adventurists (http://www.theadventurists.com) which run a number of events that have raised £5million for charity to date. Each team in the Mongol Rally is expected to raise a minimum of £1000 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 with a greater chance of a breakdown meaning drivers can interact with locals along the way. The drive is unsupported with no ‘on the road backup.’ Participants are expected to get themselves out of trouble.
For 2017, The Adventurists have supported Chris’ decision to enter the rally with the LEAF AT-EV, so that it can become the first electric vehicle to attempt the journey and highlight the organisation’s commitment to sustainability and the environment.
The 2017 Mongol Rally launches on Sunday 16 July.