It’s been a little over 3 years since Dutch adventurer Wiebe Wakker left his home in the Netherlands on what would become the longest road trip ever in an electric car, to illustrate the sustainability and endurance of electric cars.
During his 1,119 days on the road, Wakker has relied on the kindness of strangers to recharge his converted Volkswagen Golf (aka the Blue Bandit) that has about 230km range, as he traversed first the European continent then travelling down to South East Asia to then travel to Australia’s northern most state capital, Darwin.
His incredible and inspiring Plug Me In project, which has seen him cross some of the planet’s most challenging landscapes such as along the searing Stuart Highway from the Northern Territory to South Australia, is now ending this weekend in the NSW capital of Sydney.
In what will be a triumphant finale for the record-breaking drive that has now covered 95,000km, Wakker will head a cavalcade of electric cars over the Sydney Harbour Bridge this Sunday.
“We are going to start at the Tesla Supercharger at St Leonards on Sydney’s lower north shore,” Wakker tells The Driven.
“Then we will drive over the Harbour Bridge, and then we will pass by the NSW Art Gallery. Next we will pass Mrs Macquaries Chair and then finish at 2.30pm at the Opera House parking.
“At 3pm I will cross the finish line with the Blue Bandit at the Royal Botanic Gardens at the Bennelong Lawn – it’s the most beautiful location in Sydney, with the backdrop of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.”
“That will mark the end of my three year journey. It’s going to be pretty epic,” he says.
Wakker says that so far, 30 people so far have signed up to take part in the electric parade, but with many saying they are inviting other electric car drivers to join in, it could well be more.
The entire trip, which has been funded by a donations of money and items from sponsors and offers of beds, power and food from people all around Europe, the Middle East, South East Asia and Australia, has not cost Wakker a single cent.
It has saved a lot though – in dollars, and in CO2 emissions. Here is the breakdown:
- 17 megawatt hours of electricity were used on the journey;
- Wakker estimates the electricity used would have cost $A5,608;
- 6,786 litres of petrol would have been used if the Golf was not converted;
- Based on $1.40/litre for petrol, it could have cost $A9,500 in fuel;
- Based on a Golf emitting 128gm/km, over 12 tonnes of CO2 were saved as a result.
Wakker, who we spoke to when he arrived in Australia in June 2018, believes his goal of proving that driving long distances in an electric is possible has been well and truly achieved.
“Range is not a factor for not buying an electric car,” he says.
“I’ve proven that you can drive all around Australia even in a standard range electric car.”
“It’s a viable way of transport,” he says, pointing out that as most Australians live in the city, an electric car can definitely provide enough range for everyday needs.
While his trip around Australia has consisted mostly of overnight charges at people’s homes, he does point out that it would be easier if there were more DC fast chargers to enable charging in under an hour.
“There are three phase power points which are convenient but still pioneering if you want to travel long distances because you do have to wait a few hours to charge the car up,” he says.
“To make it more convenient to travel around Australia, more fast chargers need to be installed.”
After Wakker returns home to the Netherlands, he plans to write a book about his trip and remain active in the field of sustainability.
“I have some ideas about starting a new company about sustainable delivery, and create a platform for sustainable initiatives.”
With 100,000 EVs already on the road in the Netherlands – and around 300,000 chargers – his home country is already adapting well to the transition to electric mobility, thanks to a range of tax incentives.
Bridie Schmidt is associate editor for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and 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. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.