In a trip that can take its toll on even the most seasoned of ICE car adventurers, Dutch EV driver Wiebe Wakker has reached the world’s longest fence on a remote stretch of the Stuart Highway in South Australia.
Having started the trip over two years ago in Amsterdam to prove a point about sustainable mobility, it’s a major milestone for the electric car campaigner.
When we spoke to Wiebe Wakker last, he had just set foot on Australian soil in Darwin, about to travel west along the long 4,000km road to Perth in the Blue Bandit, his 37kWh retrofitted Volkswagen Golf 2009 model with around a 200km range.
In Perth, he reached another milestone – 70,000km traveled in an electric car across the globe, through 33 countries, without using a drop of fuel.
The long distances have not been without their challenges – the small (for today’s standards) range of the EV limiting daily travel according to when and where Wakker can recharge the car.
There’s not a lot of options for long distance travellers in remote Australia to use public chargers, let alone ultra-fast chargers to regain range in less than an hour.
Driving the 2,388km from Perth in Western Australia to Port Augusta in South Australia to cross the Nullarbor, Wakker has sought assistance from strangers through his Twitter account Plug Me In and website.
It’s largely been successful, although there have been some hiccups.
On October 10, Wakker was caught with a flat battery, and without any recharge options whatsoever: in desperation he posted on Twitter from the Madura Pass Roadhouse.
“Day 3 at the roadhouse. Today I am trying to find someone who can give me a tow to the Mundrabilla Roadhouse, 116 km from here.
When the car gets towed it will recharge due to regenerative braking. So I only need to get halfway and I can cover the remaining distance myself.”
Day 3 at the roadhouse. Today I am trying to find someone who can give me a tow to the Mundrabilla Roadhouse, 116 km from here.
When the car gets towed it will recharge due to regenerative braking. So I only need to get halfway and I can cover the remaining distance myself pic.twitter.com/kMVrzTuPqB
— Plug Me In (@WiebeWkkr) October 13, 2018
Travelling between Port Augusta and Coober Pedy has also been challenging: the 255km journey from Glendambo to the opal mining centre is longer than Wakker’s maximum range of 235km.
Today was big challenge day. I needed to do 255km to Cooper Pedy. My #EV can only do around 200k. I managed to do 235 which is exactly my previous record. I’m now 21k from CP and waiting for someone to pass by and tow me.
It’s nicely warm and working on my tan while waiting. pic.twitter.com/i9PEbqKo4x
— Plug Me In (@WiebeWkkr) October 23, 2018
Regardless of the challenges, Wakker remains resilient, taking some amazing photos along his way of the Australian outback.
He also has stored up a few ounces of humour, as is reflected in his posts on reaching the dog fence, near the Breakaways Conservation Park, a good way from practically anyone, and anywhere.
“Just drive to the Dog Fence, take a left, and continue on until the ground isn’t flat.” These are the kinds of instructions that work in central Australia,” he writes.
“The breakaways NP is a stunning moon-like landscape where you can bump into the world’s longest dog fence, 5000 km!”
“Just drive to the Dog Fence, take a left, and continue on until the ground isn’t flat.” These are the kinds of instructions that work in central Australia.
The breakaways NP is a stunning moon-like landscape where you can bump into the world’s longest dog fence, 5000 km! pic.twitter.com/ri0wwkPAL6
— Plug Me In (@WiebeWkkr) October 26, 2018
With several thousand kilometres left to go before he reaches Sydney, Wakker’s journey continues to inspire.
He has already reportedly broken the previous record for long distance driving in a non-solar electric car, a 22,000km drive made by Swiss drivers Nic Megert and Anton Julmy in 2016.
Wakker is now on his way to Uluru, and just 40 days off another milestone – 1,000 days on the road.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.