Leaf is first EV to enter the rally
EVs aren’t just tackling dense urban asphalt anymore now that a Nissan Leaf is participating in the 10,000-mile (16,000-km) Mongol Rally. The charity drive starts on July 16 in the U.K. and ends in Mongolia, crossing thousands of miles of mountains, deserts, and steppes throughout Europe and Asia.
Given that this weeks-long event crosses many thousands of miles of remote countryside, you may not be surprised to learn the Leaf is the first all-electric vehicle to enter the Mongol rally. But this isn’t just any Leaf. Created by electric vehicle advocate Plug In Adventures and dubbed Leaf AT-EV (All Terrain Electric Vehicle), the Leaf (30-kilowatt-hour motor) has been equipped with Speedline SL2 Marmora wheels shod in Maxsport RB3 narrow tires, braided brake lines, plates welded to the underside of the wishbone suspension, mudflaps, and a 6mm front skid plate. A modified roof rack comes fitted with a Lazer Triple-R 16 LED light bar that provides 16,400 lumens of supplementary forward lighting. Inside, the rear seats and seatbelts have been removed for weight savings and extra storage, and a fire extinguisher and first-aid kit have been installed. Modifications were done by U.K.-based RML Group, a high-performance engineering company.
Chris Ramsey, founder of Plug In adventures, will pilot the modified Leaf and knows this will be a challenge. “Not only will we face a dwindling number of EV chargers the farther east we go, the terrain also becomes more difficult to navigate. Using a Nissan Leaf for this was an obvious decision. I’m 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.”
Ramsey doesn’t go into detail about exactly how the team will charge the car in the more remote portions of the journey.
The Mongol Rally is not a timed event and participants must be able to get themselves out of trouble as there are no emergency or assistance vehicles during the rally. Additionally, entrants must drive a small, sub-1.0-liter car as organizers believe this will cause more breakdowns, forcing the drivers to interact with locals along the way.
Even without breakdowns, Ramsey plans to make regular stops along the way to promote the benefits of EVs to the locals and will be using the What3Words platform to log the locations of uncharted charging stations for future EV drivers traversing these remote areas.