Nissan is eager to showcase the capabilities of its upcoming Ariya EV, and the carmaker has decided that the best way to do it is to put the fully-electric SUV through a grueling journey from the magnetic North Pole to the South Pole.
It’s a big departure from what most people would likely demand of a run-of-the-mill SUV — or big crossover, if you’d like — regardless of the propulsion method behind it. And yet, Nissan is out to prove the Ariya is far more capable than its appearance would suggest, especially with the new “e-4ORCE” AWD system.
Silly names aside, Nissan is confident enough to send its new EV to the literal ends of the Earth in a mostly stock configuration. Under that stance and other off-roady bits, the Nissan Ariya embarking on the “Pole to Pole EV Expedition” will remain mostly the same: the battery and powertrain are stock, as well as the e-4ORCE tech. The changes are mostly in the suspension, wheels, and tires.
Nissan had some help from vehicle outfitter Arctic Trucks to get the Ariya ready for the 27,000-kilometer journey (16,777 miles). The company fitted the Ariya with a raised suspension and more durable wheels on 39-inch BF Goodrich tires, specifically chosen for their performance in snow. Of course, the tires also have to do a decent job on the road, while being better than decent in the sand.
The Ariya’s wheel arches were widened to fit the tires, and to increase the EV’s stability. The two-person team driving the Ariya will drive it through many kinds of terrain on their way from the North to South Pole, ranging from rocky foothills to sand dunes, to snow, ice, and everything in between. Nissan says this is the first expedition of its kind for any vehicle, and certainly for any EV.
In order to charge in remote locations, the Ariya will be towing a “portable, renewable energy unit” that uses a wind turbine and solar panels to generate electricity. It’s a prototype that’s packable and lightweight, which will charge the SUV while the two explorers rest.
The driver and co-driver on the Pole to Pole EV Expedition are Chris and Julie Ramsey, respectively. The husband and wife team have taken on this kind of journey before: they were the first to complete the Mongol Rally in an EV in their Nissan Leaf, no less. The team has a penchant for pushing production cars to the limit because they say that’s the best way to show how truly capable a car is. And on their Arctic Ariya, even the paint looks to be stock: it’s the same copper tone that looks like a battery, but with decals slapped on.
The only thing that stands out, other than the menacing wide and beefy tires, is the addition of a built-in espresso machine in the rear cargo hold, which Chris says will help him chug caffeine during the 10-month journey. There’s also a drone built into the roof of the Ariya. I’d prefer a tire or two, but that could get heavy. The Nissan Ariya is set to start its Pole to Pole trip adventure in March of this year.
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