Nissan unveils epic off-road Ariya for Pole-to-Pole expedition

Damien O'Carroll
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Nissan has unveiled an "adventure-ready" version of the Ariya electric SUV, but don't get too excited, because you won't be able to buy it any time soon.

That is because it is an extreme custom version built by Arctic Trucks (the outfit behind the epic Toyota Hiluxes built for Top Gear's Polar Special) that will undertake a 27,000-kilometre trip from the magnetic North Pole to the South Pole.

Arctic Truck, as their name suggests, is a specialist in polar expedition vehicles, and the company has collaborated with Nissan's design and engineering teams to prepare the Ariya for the tough conditions it will face during the epic adventure, which aims to kick off this March, where it will need to cope with ice fields, deep snow, steep mountain climbs and inhospitable desert dunes.

Nissan says modifications to the car have been intentionally minimal, with no changes to the battery or powertrain, but the most recognisable difference is the adaption of the suspension and addition of 39-inch tyres. the company says that when paired with e-4orce, Nissan’s electric all-wheel-control technology, the modifications will "enable the expedition car to tackle extreme terrains", while also giving the drivers necessary comfort and control to reach the South Pole.

Those drivers are husband and wife team of Chris and Julie Ramsey, who in 2017 became the first team to complete the famous Mongol Rally in an all-electric vehicle, travelling over 16,000 kilometres through 20 countries in 56 days, driving from the UK to Siberia in a Nissan Leaf.

“One of the things that underpins all the adventures we do is that we take a standard production EV and aim to make minimal changes to clearly demonstrate its real, everyday capabilities, regardless of where you are driving it," said Chris Ramsey.

"Our Nissan Ariya is no different as the vehicle’s drivetrain and battery has remained factory standard, demonstrating just how capable and versatile the production Ariya is.

“We’ve modified the suspension and widened the wheel arches so we can benefit from the stable platform and support of the 39-inch BF Goodrich tyres. I’m incredibly excited to get behind the wheel of what was already a brilliant vehicle, but now feels equipped to take on the ends of the earth in style!”

There are few other non-standard extras fitted to the Ariya, however, including a specially integrated espresso machine and a drone that can launch directly from the utility unit on the roof. One further innovation is the portable, renewable energy unit that will be used to charge the Ariya in the polar regions. The towable prototype includes a packable, lightweight wind turbine and solar panels that will take advantage of high winds and long daylight hours to provide charge for the EV’s battery when Chris and Julie stop to rest. 

“The planning and preparation for Pole-to-Pole has been such a big part of our lives over the past four years so I am really looking forward to getting the expedition underway in March," said Julie Ramsey.

"We’re going to discover so many interesting initiatives from communities and individuals who are taking positive action against climate change and I’m looking forward to sharing these experiences and stories with everyone. We are doing something that has never been attempted before, a world-first, and ultimately that is what makes it so exciting.”


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