French electric car maker Venturi has unveiled a specialised battery electric vehicle prototype in Monaco that it has designed to explore Antarctica – without leaving a trace of pollution.
Part of a project initiated by the principality’s Prince Albert II, the tank-like vehicle (aptly named Antarctica!) with caterpillar track can travel a total distance of around 45km, at a speed of 20km/hr on a single charge.
The vehicle can also recharge its batteries solely using wind turbines and solar panels, for example at the Belgian research station, making it an environmentally alternative to the damaging diesel-powered vehicles currently used in the fragile and scientifically significant landscape.
“Through this extremely high-tech project, the teams at Venturi Automobiles are offering a concrete and innovative response to stations based in the Antarctic, and the Foundation is happy to be able to support this remarkable initiative,” said Bernard Fautrier, vice president and CEO of the Prince Albert II Foundation, in a statement.
“By giving scientists a clean, economical and efficient means of transport, Venturi will help to improve research conditions on the ground, providing a sustainable solution for conveying equipment to study sites.”
Before it is taken to the South Pole to assist in essential climate research projects, the EV is first scheduled to conduct full-scale tests in Canada’s far north in the Telegraph Creek region in March 2019.
“When I visited about 20 scientific research stations in 2009 in Antarctica, I realised that they did not have ‘clean’ vehicles to move, to transport materials, even for short distances. Nobody had thought about this aspect yet,” Prince Albert II told AFP on Friday (translated from French).
“It’s a very targeted market, but if we can make utilitarian electric vehicles that are solid and resistant to the cold, it can have interesting applications, even military ones,” added Prince Albert, who created the eponymous environmental foundation in 2006.
Venturi Automobiles CEO Gildo Pastor said he was confident that the vehicle’s batteries would be able to stand up to the Antarctic temperatures of up to -50 ° C.
“We have found innovative solutions and we are patenting,” he assured (also translated from French).