Chris and Julie Ramsey, a Scottish couple from Aberdeen, have become the first people to complete the grueling Mongol Rally in an electric car.
The infamous 10,000 mile journey from Europe to Mongolia is enough to test the grit and spirit of a regular combustion car driver, let alone one who has to stop to charge the batteries every 90 miles. There is no support and no set route, although the principal launch point is the Goodwood circuit in England. The end point is the Siberian city of Ulan Ude, 400 miles north of Mongolia’s capital Ulaanbaatar.
For the three months needed to complete the journey, the pair relied upon the kindness of strangers to give them beds for the night and help them charge the battery of their Nissan Leaf.
“The Mogul rally itself is a mammoth challenge – you are driving two thirds of the distance around the Earth,” Chris told CNN.
“Doing that in a petrol car, you can stop and refuel within a couple of seconds, but for us in an electric car there’s no charging infrastructure. So we are stopping in every town and village we come across to try to find charging spots – and that was just domestic plus sockets in cafes and restaurants.”
Visiting countries where the people had never seen an electric car before was a real buzz for Julie: “There were hordes of people all the time, surrounding the car, wanting to find out more. It gave us the opportunity to talk to them. If we had been driving a normal car no one would think twice – but you are driving in a silent car so people become surprised, they pop up the engine bay, see that there is no engine – and that you’re plugging it in and they think it’s from outer space.”
Chris has been an enthusiast of electric vehicles since 2011. He has since set a few records, for example gaining the fastest time for an electric car to drive the length of Britain (from John O’Groats to Land’s End), but completing the Mongol Rally is his greatest achievement to date.
“We want to get out there and dispel the myths about electric vehicles, that they’re not fun, that you can’t drive long distances or over challenging terrain,” he said.
“We drove this whole journey with zero tail pipe emissions. For nearly 10,000 miles we spent $105 on electricity. When you think about how much fuel one of the Mongol rally teams would have put in, it would have been $1,500 – £1,800 worth of petrol. The infrastructure involved in that multiplied by 290 teams – that’s a massive carbon footprint.”
Watch the video above to find out more about the Ramseys’ adventure.