Can a Nissan EV overcome the mountains, deserts and steppes on an adventurous 16,000-kilometer (10,000-mile) journey from UK to Mongolia? Members of the Plug In Adventures team certainly will make an effort, using a bit modified Leaf.
The Nissan Leaf they'll be using was named AT-EV (All Terrain Electric Vehicle) and is based on a standard Nissan LEAF Acenta with a 30kWh battery that offers an electric range of 250 kilometers per single charge. Of course, the standard set-up was modified to better equip the car for what lies ahead in more remote parts of the long, demanding journey.
The Maxsport RB3 narrow tyres are narrower that the ones used with the standard Leaf; they are more fitting for driving on unpaved roads and other rough terrains. Reportedly, the modified Leaf will also feature welded plates to the underside of the wishbones, braided brake lines, mudflaps and a 6mm aluminium sump guard. There is a modified roof rack that provides external storage and is fitted with a Lazer Triple-R 16 LED light bar to produce supplementary low-voltage forward lighting.
As the Mongol Rally is a rally where speed is of no cruical importance, there is no security cage, and the front side – where the driver and front passenger sit – is more or less unmodified apart from the addition of rubber floor mats. Weight reduction (about 32kg) and improvement of driving performance was achieved by completely removing the rear row of seats and rear seatbelts.
According to Chris Ramsey, founder of Plug In Adventures, the Mongol Rally will be their most challenging electric vehicle drive to date, even though they've been through many demanding ones since 2011. Their Nissan Leaf will be the first EV at the rally that is otherwise reserved for cars with sub-1.0-litre, internal combustion engines. This way, the rally makes for more of a challenge with a greater chance of a breakdown – drivers are expected to find a solution themselves, with no usual back up teams behind them, however they can and are even encouraged to interact with locals along the way. Plug In Adventures team will surely need to make sure to recharge AT-EV's batteries in time.
The 2017 Mongol Rally launches on Sunday 16 July.