Charge to the Circle, an eco adventure that took place from London to the Arctic Circle in the summer of 2018, had a goal for a team to drive to Nordkapp, Norway, on electric power only. Along the way, they shared perspectives with the local people about climate change action, ideas about eliminating plastics pollution from the world’s oceans, and the reality and possibilities of all-electric transportation to reduce air pollution.
Charge to the Circle was created to reflect the capabilities of electric vehicles (EVs) via innovative and engaging storytelling experiences. The organization believes that motorsport and adventure merge with EV technology in an exciting way, so its diverse team with distinct backgrounds started conversations wherever they traveled on the route to Nordkapp. Their discourse focused on the possibility of a sustainable future and how EVs intersect with pressing issues such as oil spills, ocean plastic pollution, and CO2 emissions.
Charge to the Circle promotes the uptake of electric vehicles and ocean conservation with 3 primary goals:
- Promote the uptake of electric vehicles and E-mobility to businesses and the general public in order to secure a sustainable future
- Raise awareness of the impact we, as humans, have on the planet through storytelling using sustainable travel and adventure
- Amplify our voices by bringing together a community of individuals, companies, and organizations working towards a sustainable future
CleanTechnica was able to get exclusive interviews with several members of the team to learn why the Charge to the Arctic excursion broke new ground and to hear about the personal messages of sustainability they shared along the way.
Charge to the Circle on the Road to the Northern Steppes of Norway
Referring to themselves as “brave EV superheroes,” the team kicked off the EV road trip by joining a harbor clean up in Bristol, England. Then they crossed the Channel at Le Shuttle and headed through France to Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, and, ultimately, Norway.
Once on the Norwegian coast, the participants interacted with ocean awareness organizations and created documentary content until they reached the northernmost part of the country. Numerous conversations involved best practices to prevent plastics from entering the oceans and to rethink how we use plastics with respect to function and desired lifetime of products.
Beth Lily Georgiou and Dieter Vanswijgenhoven, the Charge to the Circle organizers, described for CleanTechnica the rationale for the Arctic destination.
“Norway is a real driving force with EV uptake, and exploring how the country has achieved this level of adoption by meeting EV owners and businesses is a very valuable learning process. It is vital that our team brings life and vibrancy to the electric vehicle and automotive industry as a whole. We know the future is electric, and we want to show Northern Europe — and the world — just how awesome that future will be.”
The Charge to the Circle Team
Manu Bustelo, a scuba diver, all-around adventurer, and member of Project Aware. He’s dipped his toes and more in nearly all the seas in the world. As a sustainability advocate, Bustelo sees daily how human behavior leads to change under the sea’s surface. Key concerns for Bustel are microplastics and CO2 emissions. He believes that nature no longer controls the weather.
Ahmed Scotland Khader and Ahmed GT Binkhanen, stunt and race drivers. They wanted to learn about the future of mobility and how to shape their racing in the future to better understand and move their business and racing to a more sustainable path. They also know a thing or two about driving.
Beth Lily Georgiou and Dieter Vanswijgenhoven, EV & motorsport specialists, Charge to the Circle organizers. They want to showcase to the world how EV can do the unexpected today, not tomorrow. They believe a change is needed now, and it is possible to live your life in the most sustainable way possible. They care deeply about the planet and believe change is just around the corner — but groundbreaking adventures and events that showcase sustainable living to the world are the key way to changing people’s minds.
Martin Orozco, a world renowned photographer. He joined the trip to document how and what happened as the Charge to the Circle team spread the world about sustainability. He has a love of portraits and telling stories through photography, with experience in advertising and commercial work. He had never even seen an EV before the Charge to the Circle adventure, but he returns to his home in Argentina with a new love and understanding of EVs. He already has made contact with some of the leading automotive figures in Argentina to focus on sustainable transportation and the future.
Charlie Fraser, EV and performance car expert. Charlie met the team in Norway, helped them to maximize the EVs’ performance, and provided vital insights about charging and driving EVs through the tricky parts of Europe where charging becomes rather marginal. Charlie comes from Glasgow, Scotland, which has some of the worst air pollution in western Europe and where the government spends billions annually on air pollution-related health care.
We've made it to THE ARCTIC CIRCLE!
Still a long way to go from here but for now I am just incredibly overwhelmed that we've made it here from the UK in 4 completely different electric vehicles.
— Beth Lily (@BethLilyRace) July 28, 2018
The All-Electric Vehicles on the Charge to the Circle Adventure
The 6-person team used 4 very different vehicles, and even the support vehicle was electric — no oil was needed to get to Nordkapp. With the celebratory background of all-electric driving, the team acknowledges that the EVs had unique challenges.
An original Tesla Roadster had long charging times in the northern regions, as it couldn’t charge on any of the newer charging infrastructure (CCS and Chademo or Supercharging). The smaller size of the LEAF’s (24kwh) battery and, therefore, range, tested the team to its limits.The BMW i3 and the Tesla Model S had no issues in getting where they needed to go.
Through the adversity, however, the EVs came through. Importantly, Gronn Kontakt provided the team with its public charging service and was instrumental in making the road trip achievement possible.
Joining Forces to Spread the World about Sustainability
Many organizations joined the Charge to the Circle team on the stops along their route.
The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI): PADI has safely guided divers below the surface for over 50 years. Teaching the world’s most popular dive curriculum, they transform lives and open hearts and minds to the hidden beauty of nature’s creation and our obligation to protect it.
Project AWARE: Project AWARE takes action to create both local and global change for the ocean and the communities who depend on it. They develop actions under their Clean Ocean and Healthy Ocean programs each year. In 2018, they began supporting our community and advancing policies on Plastic Debris and Sharks & Rays.
VitaeMobility: VitaeMobility integrates the driver into the electric car experience by organizing test drives and events that combine information and the experience of electric driving. They work to “unburden” the EV driver by actively developing a charging network in Belgium in combination with our VMGuide.eu with charge card guarantee. They install home and company charging stations as well as rent EVs for short term or to lease for longer periods.
The EV Experience in Milton Keynes: The EV Experience is the UK’s first brand neutral center for EVs and is based in at the heart of Milton Keynes. Their aim is to provide completely free education about EVs and offer Milton Keynes residents and visitors the chance to test drive a range of different electric cars on the market.
EVBox: They envision a future where everyday transport is electric, emission-free, self-driven, and sustained by a green charging infrastructure. Their mission is to drive sustainable mobility by bringing leading EV solutions to the world. They build easy-to-use and durable charging solutions for EVs with an aim for a zero emissions world.
The head offices of NEVS: Rooted in a commitment to shape mobility for a more sustainable future, NEVS was founded with the determination to make a positive change for those around us and for generations to come. NEVS provides transportation solutions and EVs that give opportunities to more quality of life.
Add in a visit to a Tesla showroom, some racing car simulator work, chats with the Triunfo Seguros folks, and a few other EV associations on the way home, and Charge to the Circle was a “super exciting” experience, according to Charlie Fraser, the team EV performance mentor.
“The switch to EVs is inevitable,” Fraser continued. “It isn’t a matter of ‘if’ anymore. It is a matter of ‘when.’ A load of European countries have set the deadline of 2040 as the first year you won’t be able to buy any ICE cars, and my home (Scotland) is setting that target as 2032.”
He described how “EVS are coming” as people make the switch to all-electric transportation. Some people, he said, are “taking stepping stones” in which 1 out of 2 cars in a household is an EV. Such a slow but consistent transition to EVs will ease the move to EVs for others within their networks. “There are a lot of things to learn with the cars,” Fraser allowed, “and the way you think about driving has to change. Not compromise — just change the way you think about your car being parked.” He suggested that the benefit of European and other government support will make life with an EV “easier and easier, rather than being forced into a big change.”
The Charge to the Circle group encountered many different reactions when they met people in local shops or stopped at pre-arranged locations.
When a girl in a pizzeria learned the team was driving EVs to Nordkapp, she asked, “Are you using Teslas? That would be really easy.” When she learned that the team had a LEAF with a 24kw battery, her face “was a picture,” according to Fraser, who noted that “Norwegians are very switched on with EVs.”
Connections between new transport and social media were evident on the adventure. Many of the meetings and events were arranged through social media. This makes sense, as people who believe in change probably are at the forefront of embracing Twitter or Instagram as well as to be deeply involved in social and environmental justice issue. EV owners tend to hang out on Twitter and Facebook in the same way that a McDonald’s car park is where boy racers in Europe hang out.
Charge to the Circle is achieving new levels in the EV world and breaking boundaries. Climate change, especially ocean and air pollution, are all issues that deeply affect our lives right now and will in the future. Removing the world’s reliance on fossil fuels is the only way to go, and Charge to the Circle’s journey was a small piece of that larger social change.
— Beth Lily (@BethLilyRace) July 26, 2018
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