South Africa To Europe, then to the world


Published on February 3, 2021 | by Jennifer Sensiba

February 3, 2021 by Jennifer Sensiba

After planning a trip in an Aptera from London to Moscow to Beijing, I decided to cross two more continents so we can have really global, crazy travel plans. This is where I came across the greatest challenge: South Africa to Europe.

For those just turning on, I changed the parameters for a 100 kWh Tesla to mimic the expected efficiency of an Aptera in A Better Routeplanner, and then let it run over different routes. The more remote and developing a country is, the more difficult it is to get the software to work together because there isn’t a lot of data on the locations of the charging stations, or in this case huge areas with no known stations.

A shitty plan to cross Africa with mostly level 1 plugs. Here you can play around with the plan yourself.

This would be about the worst EV adventure trip out there. There are DC fast charges in South Africa, but the only thing in between that and Egypt is a DCFC station in Kenya or Uganda. Everything along this route should be level 1. To do that, you’d have to spend two nights in 8 hotels, and you need to find hotels that allow you to run an extension cord through the door or window to the car, or allow you to connect to a lamp post or something. Plugs in Africa are 220-240 volts so it’s not as bad as US Level 1. You can probably get 2.4kW from the plugs so you can get more charge.

You would have to stay 2 more nights in each of these places. Personally, I would stay a few days and use the Aptera to explore the area a little and then recharge the last night to get back on the road. Expect a month if you don’t want to just see the inside of a number of African hotels. Or bring lots of cash to pay for taxi drivers, etc. Or bring a couple of bikes and hope they don’t get stolen.

The above map will take you to the end of Egypt. From there, things are easier.

The journey through Egypt and on to Europe. Here you can play around with the plan yourself.

This means you can now combine the All Africa Plan with the London-Moscow-Beijing Plan for the ultimate 16,000 mile adventure on three continents. Expect 2-3 months to do this depending on how much time you want to spend visiting things rather than just getting speed. If you are driving fast the entire trek on three continents will take 3-4 weeks if nothing goes wrong.

Chances are, if the last two things happen, you will destroy the car, have it stolen, or die along the way. However, the trip is theoretically possible if you put extra effort into figuring out which tier 1 hotels are charging each city comes north through Africa.

Be sure to read the last article before doing this. I have lots of warnings, things to watch out for, and planning tips. Make sure you read this and don’t blame us if bad things happen (they probably will). I did this mostly for fun and not to send anyone into ruin!

I thought about going completely crazy and somehow connecting this 16,000 mile trip to Alaska, but I don’t think it’s possible. For one, there is no ferry connection from the eastern end of Russia to Alaska. Another problem is that there are simply no roads that can get that far. You would probably have to send the car to Anchorage from somewhere in China and (assuming you made it that far) start the Pan-Am trip as described in this article.

By the time you crossed these 5 continents, you would have traveled roughly 30,000 miles and probably would have spent 3-6 months (depending on whether you are sightseeing). Chances are, somewhere in those insane miles you lost your car to something bad. It probably won’t go well to travel through so many war-torn and / or impoverished countries in one flashy and attention-grabbing car. You can be lucky for a while, but that luck is unlikely to last 30,000 miles. But you could do it! Who knows?

But isn’t there a continent that you forget?

Ahh yeah We are sorry. I remembered that we have some Australian readers. It turns out that crossing this continent would be about as difficult as Africa. Approaching the edges would probably be much more effective.

A plan to cross Australia. Here you can play around with the plan yourself.

Driving along the west coast doesn’t seem like a huge problem. There are many DCFC infrastructures. Crossing the top or bottom takes at least two nights plugged into electrical outlets in hotels or RV parks before you can find some DCFC stations in the Perth area. We know a woman who has taken a trip around the edge of Australia and it took her 80 days so the Aptera would be a good improvement over this one.

That’s only 6 continents. What about the 7th?

There is a little problem. The seventh continent is Antarctica. Not only are there no charging stations, there are also no cities, streets or much else besides research stations. The challenge of driving an electric vehicle there is likely similar to the challenge of driving an electric vehicle on the moon (which was done in 1971).

Despite the challenges, a solar electric vehicle crossed part of the continent in 2018.

Things I’ve Learned To Travel The World Virtually

The Aptera is said to be the electric vehicle with the longest range to date. It was pretty exciting to do hands-on testing of a vehicle with this range and I will definitely take my vehicle on some road trips. I will probably not try to cross Africa or Eurasia with me because I have a family that does not fit in (mostly money and family obligations), among other things.

However, this virtual test around the world taught me a few things.

Perhaps most importantly, it is clear EV design is not a substitute for infrastructure. The Aptera is good enough to compensate for the weak infrastructure situation in the USA, but globally it is not enough. Kazakhstan, crossing Eurasia, was the big problem. Crossing Africa is possible, but it would take so long that probably no one other than someone with mental health problems would try.

It is clear that every place on earth (except Antarctica) needs more EV infrastructure. Some places are far better than others, but each place could be improved.

We have to take that into account too The global south is left behind. We definitely need to set up the most polluting countries with better infrastructure first, but once we get that under control, the developing countries and places with impoverished indigenous peoples will need our help to get going. Until then, the prices for electric vehicles and the associated technology are likely to fall significantly and promote acceptance there. We have seen developing countries adopt a lot of clean technology too, largely because it becomes cheaper than fossil fuels, so with our help they will have a long-term advantage.

Finally, we need to see what can be done to better connect dangerous parts of the world with the rest of the world. As I thought about crossing places known to have gangs, terrorism, warlords, and poverty, I thought about how afraid I would be to cross them. There are many good people living in these areas who would not hurt visitors, but the problems they face with the few bad people need to be addressed. Nobody should be afraid to cross continentsor to live in their own homes.

I hope we can address these challenges in the 21st century.

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Tags: Africa, Antarctica, Aptera, Australia, Europe

About the author

Jennifer Sensiba Jennifer Sensiba has been an efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer for many years. She grew up in a transmission business and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She enjoys exploring the US Southwest with her partner, children and animals. Follow her on Twitter for her latest articles and other random things: Do you think I’ve been helpful in your understanding of Tesla, clean energy, etc? Feel free to use my Tesla reference code to get yourself (and me) some small benefits and discounts on your cars and solar products.

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