10,000 miles in a Nissan Leaf


The Mongol Rally is one of the most gruelling automotive challenges on earth, taking drivers across terrain largely impassable to all cars bar the most rugged of off-roaders. But one man has decided that it is not quite tough enough. Chris Ramsey and his wife won't be taking it on in a purpose-built car, designed to take on the 10,000-miles - oh no. Instead, he has chosen to do it in a 30kWh Nissan Leaf.

Chris, you're one brave man!
Chris, you're one brave man!
Travelling to meet with Chris and the car, I expect to be presented with a heavily bastardised machine, similar to the 'Mini Countryman' that competes in the Dakar, or a Mad Max'd version of Nissan's EV - the last of the 30kWh interceptors, if you will. What I encounter instead is very surprising indeed. It is simply a Nissan Leaf, wrapped and ready to go with just a few minor modifications.

The suspension has been raised to provide better ground clearance; a 6mm aluminium sump guard has been fitted, with plates welded to the underside of the wishbones and braided brake lines to provide a little more protection. Speedline wheels on narrow tyres will make it easier to find replacements, as Chris is only travelling with one spare. A two-pin charging adaptor which is used throughout Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia, a three phase 6.6kWh cable and caravan commando connection will keep him covered in terms of charging.

Route is a long way even on a sticker...
Route is a long way even on a sticker...
A roof rack has been fitted for extra storage and a 16,400 lumen LED light bar will make it far easier to drive at night. Inside, the rear seats have been removed to provide added space, as the husband and wife duo will be spending two and a half months in it together. That sounds like enough of a challenge without all this rally nonsense!

This may sound like a mad idea, but Chris is no stranger to extreme distance motoring. Having driven his Leaf from John O'Groats to Land's End and made it all the way from Edinburgh to Monaco, he sees the previous trips as training for the gruelling journey ahead.

The Mongol Rally, however, is well known for having no set route; teams must try to complete the journey however they can while driving small, sub-1,000cc Sheds - with no support vehicles - all in the name of raising money for charity. Even though the Leaf isn't considered a Shed, the organisers accepted it for showing a commitment to sustainability. Chris has thoroughly researched his route, taking him from Goodwood to Brussels, through to Vienna and Istanbul, then to Baku where they will take the ferry to Aktau in Kazakhstan. His route also includes an attempt to be the first person to drive an electric car from the most westerly point to the most easterly point in Kazakhstan, before heading to Siberia and into Mongolia.

Just a few thousand miles to go...
Just a few thousand miles to go...
Even with every detail accounted for though, there have been stories of cars known to be mechanically reliable literally falling to pieces on the trip. So how does Chris acknowledge the challenge? He says there are many towns within the Leaf's official range, but if it comes to a point where something breaks, he is relying on the goodness of local people - and he's ready to flag down passing trucks for help. He also reckons it's actually easier to ask someone who doesn't speak his language for more fuel by simply showing them a plug when asking for a charge. Chris is not even fazed by his lack of technical knowledge, confident that an electric car will be easier to fix as there is less to go wrong. Let's hope he is right!

And after the rally? There are plans for something bigger and even more daring, but Chris is tight-lipped when it comes to discussing specifics. He and his wife are currently mid-way through Europe having left Goodwood on Sunday; you can keep up to date with them via his Plug in Adventures on Facebook and Twitter.

Good luck!

 

 

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Comments (24) Join the discussion on the forum

  • giveitfish 19 Jul 2017

    Whats the sump guard guarding I wonder?

  • User33678888 19 Jul 2017

    As much as I embrace the differentness of this, it's going to take at least 100 charges to get there. It'll get really boring really quickly. The Leaf makes sense as a city car, but for this? Maybe in a Tesla Model X...

  • RobM77 19 Jul 2017

    User33678888 said:
    As much as I embrace the differentness of this, it's going to take at least 100 charges to get there. It'll get really boring really quickly. The Leaf makes sense as a city car, but for this? Maybe in a Tesla Model X...
    I don't think anyone, even at Nissan (the makers of the GTR!) will be claiming it's the best tool for the job! biggrin However, range is undoubtedly one of the main sticking points for car buyers when considering an electric car, so by doing this journey in a Leaf it'll be a huge marketing boost in that respect.

  • Dr G 19 Jul 2017

    giveitfish said:
    Whats the sump guard guarding I wonder?
    We've uncovered the cheat - they've added an engine!

  • boz1 19 Jul 2017

    giveitfish said:
    Whats the sump guard guarding I wonder?
    A very good point! scratchchin

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