Nissan Electric Ariya Will Attempt to Drive From the North to the South Pole

Electric vehicles have been all the buzz over the past few years, with nearly every major automaker announcing at least one model. The emissions-free vehicles promise a cleaner, more eco-friendly approach to driving, although at the moment there are few options to choose from and most aren’t all that affordable.

Nissan is pinning its hopes on the electric Ariya a crossover vehicle that promises a range of up to 300 miles (482 km) on a single charge with motors that produce as much as 389 horsepower. The small SUV has a starting price of $38,450 and is set to hit showrooms in the fall of 2022. In an effort to promote that impending arrival on dealer lots, the Japanese automaker has come up with a compelling marketing idea. The plan is to drive an Ariya from the North Pole to the South Pole, which will present some incredible logistical challenges to say the least.

Nissan electric Ariya
Photo Credit: Nissan

Range Anxiety

The North-to-South Pole expedition is set to begin in March of 2023 and will be led by British adventurer Chris Ramsey. He is an advocate for electric vehicles and environmental responsibility and is best known for becoming the first person to drive the Mongol Rally in an EV—a Nissan Leaf. He’s also set a record for riding an electric bike 180.75 miles (290.88 km) in a 12-hour period.

Ramsey has been planning a Pole-to-Pole journey by electric car for a couple of years now, but recently partnered with Nissan to make that happen. He’ll drive a specially modified Nissan electric Ariya on the expedition, with a second Ariya following along for support and back-up. The goal is to prove that EVs are durable enough to withstand cold temperatures and rugged conditions while having less of an impact on the environment.

The journey will begin at the North Pole and head south, following a route across North, Central, and South America. Ramsey and his team expect to cover roughly 16,800 miles (27,036 km) along the way while facing temperatures that will range from -25ºF/-31ºC to as much as 95ºF/35ºC. The goal is to prove the resiliency of the Ariya’s batteries, demonstrating that they can hold power even in difficult conditions.

Nissan electric Ariya
Photo Credit: James Mov/Nissan

Logistical Challenges

Cold temperatures may be the least of the challenges that the team will face during their undertaking. Anyone who follows Arctic expeditions knows that ice in the Arctic Ocean is no longer as thick and stable as it once was, which has made journeys to and from the North Pole incredibly challenging—if not outright impossible—in recent years. How Ramsey and his crew hope to navigate a vehicle through those conditions remains to be seen. Unlike in the Antarctic, there is no solid ground underneath all of that ice.

The other major challenge will be keeping the two Ariyas charged throughout the journey. Charging networks for electric vehicles remain somewhat spotty in the US and Canada and are even rarer in most of the other countries that the team will pass through. Of course, there will be no charging stations at all in the Arctic and Antarctic, so presumably, they have a plan to tackle this problem. Solar panels aren’t efficient enough to keep the EVs running and even with extended battery packs, the distances to and from the poles will be difficult to cover.

Ramsey’s lack of experience in polar travel is of note as well. Presumably, he will undergo training driving in arctic conditions—perhaps in Greenland or Norway—before setting out. While the Mongol Rally is a fun and arduous road trip, it is nothing like what he’ll face leaving the North Pole and approaching the South Pole.

An Epic Journey

Logistical questions aside, this will be an interesting expedition to follow. If successful, this will be the first time that anyone has driven a vehicle from the North Pole to the South Pole. Of course, a ship will be used to cross the Southern Ocean and I’m assuming Ramsey and his team will skip the Darién Gap and use the ferry around that difficult and dangerous stretch of road. But nevertheless, this will be an adventure for the ages.

Hopefully now that the expedition is officially announced and set to begin next year, we’ll start to get more details about how it will happen. Needless to say, if Ramsey and the tea manage to pull it off, it will be one heck of a great commercial for Nissan’s new electric vehicle.

Stay tuned for more. This should prove interesting.

Kraig Becker