The EV will drive through North, Central, and South America before boarding a ship to Antarctica.
Several automakers have pledged to go all- or mostly-electric by 2030, but they've got a long way before skeptical buyers hop on board. People worry about range anxiety, charging times, and durability with EVs, so it's up to car companies to educate buyers while promoting their products.
Nissan was an early mover in the EV space, but its second electric vehicle hasn't yet hit the streets. The Ariya is due here this fall as a 2023 model, and before it's ready for primetime, the automaker is sending it on a quest to drive from the North Pole to the South Pole to demonstrate its capabilities and, more importantly, raise awareness of the climate crisis.
Nissan tapped veteran British explorer Chris Ramsey for the job, as he already had experience driving electric vehicles in super challenging conditions. He'll be piloting a new Ariya through North, Central, and South America before hitching a ride to Antarctica. This will mark the first time a vehicle of any kind has driven from the Magnetic North Pole to the South Pole.
The SUV is an e-4orce all-wheel-drive model, and Nissan says it will be modified with upgraded wheels, tires, and suspension. The exterior appears to have been massaged to be more rugged and fit the larger wheels and tires, though Nissan did not share specifics.
Despite Ramsey's experience, the drive won't be easy. The journey will cover more than 27,000 kilometers (around 16,777 miles), and the vehicle will experience temperatures ranging from -22 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. To help along the way, a second AWD Ariya will join the expedition. Though Ramsey's SUV will be heavily modified, the support vehicle will be bone stock.
Nissan says its e-4orce all-wheel-drive system can help the driver "trace the intended driving line over a variety of road surfaces, including wet and snowy roads, without the need for changes in driving style or input." The automaker showed its innovative AWD system using RC cars earlier this year.
Chris Ramsey is no stranger to the trip. He founded an organization called Pole to Pole, whose mission is to demonstrate the effectiveness of EVs in extreme environments and show that they are fun to drive in the process. He's also living that mission on his own, as he and his wife took a Nissan Leaf on a 16,000-km (almost 10,000 miles) trip over 56 days.
The pole-to-pole trek takes place in March 2023, half a year after the Ariya's expected US release date. The automaker has had to push the release date back more than once, citing supply chain issues as its central challenge. Nissan priced the Ariya at $47,125, which is more than a Leaf, but competitive with the Tesla Model Y and others like the Ford Mustang Mach-E.