A Dutch couple has travelled from the Netherlands to South Africa in an electric car they primarily recharged using solar power.
Maarten van Pel and Renske Cox, founders of 4×4 Electric, set off from Amsterdam in a modified Skoda Enyaq iv80 SUV on 4 November 2022 and entered South Africa on 8 July 2023.
The pair aims to inspire people to take action against climate change by sharing the stories of people and projects that have implemented sustainability efforts in various ways.
On their route of more than 20,000km, they drove through four European and 18 African countries and stopped at several sustainability initiatives.
After passing from Spain into Morocco, their route went southwards along Africa’s western coast.
Many of the African countries they visited have very poor road infrastructure.
For example, between Serti in Nigeria and Banyo in Cameroon, the team travelled at an average speed of 12.2km/h over five days.
Most African countries also have very few or no dedicated electric car charging stations.
The Enyaq iv80 typically comes with 537km of range on its 77kWh battery, measured on the WLTP cycle. That works out to about 1.34% of the total round-trip distance of 40,000km.
To support the long-distance trip, the expedition car had to be fitted with a rooftop tent and -box, and all-terrain tires.
Aside from clothing and food, it was also packed with a 50-litre water tank and induction stove.
These components added weight and drag to the SUV, significantly impacting its potential range.
To top up the expedition car’s battery while on the move, PV solar panels were added to the rooftop boxes and bonnet.
But the majority of power comes from a set of sixty 180Wp panels stored in six purpose-built drawers. When laid out on the ground, they cover a surface area of 60m².
The charging setup is unique for solar — a direct DC charging system developed by Venema e-mobility.
Because it does not use a battery that requires DC-AC-DC conversion, it results in 20% less energy loss.
After stopping in Cape Town, Van Pel and Cox plan to travel back to the Netherlands, this time going up the eastern side of the continent.
As of Sunday, 9 July 2023, they appeared to be nearing the halfway mark between the Vioolsdrift border and Cape Town.
Cox described their border crossing experience between Namibia and South Africa as being in the top two on the continent so far.
Their journey is detailed in multiple videos posted on their website, including some stunning shots of the surrounding landscapes taken with a drone.
Technical details, such as the charging performance of the car, are also available on a regularly-updated dashboard.
The video below highlights some of the experiences on their trip through Cameroon.