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Geotab & 4x4Electric Are Taking On An African EV Adventure

Off-pavement EV adventures can be pretty fun, and I’ve experimented with it some myself.

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I’ve thought of myself as pretty adventurous when I took my Bolt EUV on some mild trails. On one trip, I went up to Monjeau Lookout near Ruidoso, New Mexico, ascending and then descending a rutty and sometimes rocky dirt road. Even on challenging sections where I had to pick lines carefully to prevent scraping on larger rocks, the very controllable low-end torque of an EV and regenerative braking made it a real breeze.

Then, later, I visited the Chiricahua Mountains of southeast Arizona, visiting the areas near Portal and Paradise, AZ. This stretch of road, which the forest service warns, “High clearance vehicles are strongly recommended. 4WD also beneficial, if available,” about, also proved to not be a challenge to the tough little EUV. The roads were actually pretty challenging, but with careful choice of lines and even some use of the 360-degree camera, the little crossover got through without any issues at all.

But, I know the little EUV is still a front-drive crossover and that it’s no Jeep Wrangler 4xe (a vehicle I took under electric power into some much rougher terrain last year).

Some People Who Are Far Braver Than Me

But, even with the 4xe, I don’t think I’d want to do what a team from Europe is about to set out on: a trip from Europe, down to South Africa, and back. Geotab recently announced its partnership with 4x4electric on their fully self-sufficient Electric Vehicle (EV) expedition from the Netherlands to South Africa and back.

Renske Cox and Maarten van Pel, the founders of 4x4electric, will be setting off from Haelen, Netherlands, on November 4th for their expedition. This journey is supposed to last them a whole year while they travel 40,000 km across Africa. They have three motives for this trip: To show how practical long-term electric motoring can be; finding sustainable initiatives rung throughout Africa; and getting data and clever insights about their expedition vehicle during the duration of the trip.

Geotab is sponsoring 4x4electric’s expedition by supplying telematics for the vehicles. This footage will be shown on a live dashboard and include driving behaviors, power information, and environmental insights. The data will be viewable on the website throughout the journey.

A Dutch NGO, 4x4electric expedition, will use a SKODA ENYAQ iV 80 outfitted with portable solar panels and standard electric recharging sockets. MyGeotab software provides live tracking via the GO9 telematics device fitted to the car. The SKODA car is wirelessly connected to both a satellite device and the internet. This allows for constant data monitoring as well as an in-vehicle camera that captures the journey in real-time, highlighting all of the extraordinary adventure’s best moments.

“We’re so excited and delighted to be part of 4x4electric’s incredible adventure across Africa,” says David Savage, Vice President, UK & Ireland. “Electric vehicles are the future, and it’s important to dispel long standing myths on range anxiety, and instead focus on building a more sustainable world for us all. As we move into Net Zero, our technologies such as the EV Suitability Assessment and the EV Battery Degradation tool can help organisations optimise their fleets and bring sustainability into focus. All of us at Geotab wish Renske and Maarten luck and we can’t wait to follow their electric journey!”

The journey begins on 4 November in Haelen, Netherlands. There will be a launch event including a speech and guest appearance by Vivianne Heijnen, State Secretary of Infrastructure for the Netherlands. The vehicle will leave at 11pm. The vehicle will then set off for the remainder of its journey. Full details of the expedition’s route, together with the various sustainability initiatives being visited along the way, are available here. Live data for the expedition will be available here.

Throughout the journey, 4x4electric will also be sharing blog posts and videos on YouTube.

“We were inspired by our love of nature and our desire to live a sustainable lifestyle. The 4x4electric adventure is our way of demonstrating that you can love this planet whilst still living on it,” said 4x4electric founder Renske Cox. “We are delighted that Geotab has joined our adventure and can provide the technology that shows the data points across our entire journey. As a company, they have the same commitment to the environment that we do, and we will share this journey together.”

Preparing For The Journey

I didn’t think anybody was going to take their stock SKODA ENYAQ out on a trip of that magnitude, and I was wondering exactly how they were going to power the journey. Fortunately, the team’s YouTube channel gave me some clues in cool video form.

In one video, we can learn about the suspension upgrades:

Upgraded springs add several millimeters of ground clearance, and that’s on top of tire upgrades they had already made to the vehicle. They also showed off a rooftop tent that they’ll be using during the journey.

Another video shows off their solar charging system, and it’s not that different than what is depicted on The Martian:

While they won’t be eating potatoes grown using unconventional fertilizers, they will be basically getting L2 charging by laying solar panels out along the journey in places where they can’t get a charge. In another article I wrote about the possibilities of taking an Aptera on such a journey, I took a look at charging possibilities, and from what I could see, they’re probably going to use this system quite a bit along the way.

They also made some interior modifications:

I’m not 100% sure why they stripped it out so much, but it appears to be for ruggedness, space preservation, and perhaps weight reduction along the way.

All in all, this seems to be a pretty neat expedition they have planned. Hopefully it all works out for them along the way and they don’t encounter any two-legged predators on such a long trip through what will probably include some rough places.

You can see their whole route here.

Featured image provided by 4x4Electric and GeoTab.

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Written By

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.


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