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EV'ing through Africa
May 23, 2012 4:03 PM   Subscribe

Frenchman Xavier Chevrin is driving an electric car 3,000 miles through Africa, from Nairobi to Johannesburg. Finding outlets is a challenge, about 65 percent of Africans do not have access to electricity. The daily video logs are a joy not only for the beautiful scenery along a contemporary African road trip, but the excitement of many Africans who have never seen an electric vehicle. The vehicle is a souped-up version of cars used by the French postal service, a Citroen Berlingo powered by Venturi. This is Xavier's 2nd long distance electric car expedition, previously he did Shanghai to Paris, it set the record for the longest distance traveled in an electric vehicle.
posted by stbalbach (9 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's difficult to find outlets in developed countries. I rented a Nissan Leaf this past winter in Japan, only to discover that a) there were only 2 "quick charge" stations in a 50 KM radius and b) both were closed.

Meanwhile, we had used up about 60% of our charge just traveling 2 kilometers to my mother-in-law's house (powering through some fresh snow ate up the charge), and had to reconsider our plans to go for a drive to the next town.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:07 PM on May 23, 2012


It's difficult to find outlets in developed countries. I rented a Nissan Leaf this past winter in Japan, only to discover that a) there were only 2 "quick charge" stations in a 50 KM radius and b) both were closed.

Yep. I considered buying a Leaf in the SF Bay Area, but when I looked at the charger maps I found on Google, it seemed like there was very sparse coverage, and enough notes about broken chargers that I realized, for me, this vehicle would be about work commutes and in-town grocery runs.
posted by zippy at 6:03 PM on May 23, 2012


Everyone talks about the post-oil future and how we're going to have electric cars, but I just don't buy it. Cars are a really inefficient way of getting people around, and by the time we're post-oil I think the manufacture of cheap, light batteries for something as frivolous as personal transit is going to be a no-starter. Public transit, walkable communities and abandoning the suburbs is what'll eventually happen.

Of course, that all has the huge caveat attached that the powers that be will have any interest in investing in such things as the oil wanes, as opposed to lots of short-sighted grabs for the last drops of oil, world wars, et cetera. I see electric cars as a way of staving off doubt in the system by telling people "No! Everything's going to be fine and 50% of the earth isn't going to starve to death within your lifetime!".

But yeah. Electric cars? Total joke.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:00 PM on May 23, 2012


But yeah. Electric cars? Total joke.

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
posted by stbalbach at 8:08 PM on May 23, 2012


First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

Somehow, living here in Africa, I have to think there are a few more steps to the equation.

It took until 30 seconds into the 2nd mission video to see him using electricity from a GAS-POWERED generator to charge his car, you don't see it, but you can hear it and it's pretty damn clear that's what he's doing. I would bet you everything I own that it won't be the last time he does that before Joburg.

Purpose defeated much?
posted by allkindsoftime at 3:02 AM on May 24, 2012


It took until 30 seconds into the 2nd mission video to see him using electricity from a GAS-POWERED generator to charge his car, you don't see it, but you can hear it and it's pretty damn clear that's what he's doing. I would bet you everything I own that it won't be the last time he does that before Joburg.

Purpose defeated much?


Well, not quite. An IC engine powering an generator constantly running at optimal rpm is a heck of a lot more efficient than an IC engine directly driving a car that brakes and accelerates the whole time (as he'll probably have to do quite often throughout his journey). Of course, instead of taking an electric car and a generator with him, he could have used a plug-in series hybrid car such as the Chevrolet Volt/Opel Ampera, which works in a very similar manner...
posted by Skeptic at 4:50 AM on May 24, 2012


Why not just tow the generator?
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:26 AM on May 24, 2012


StickyCarpet: "Why not just tow the generator?"

It defeats the purpose of the trip, they are proselytizing the concept of an electric vehicle by interacting with local people at charging points.

Cities are the best places for electric cars. According to UN-Habitat's State of African Cities 2010 report, urbanization is happening faster in Africa than anywhere else in the world. By 2030 the continent will no longer be predominately rural. By 2050, it is estimated 60% of Africans will be living in cities.
posted by stbalbach at 9:32 AM on May 24, 2012


Bicycles and trams are are the best vehicles for cities.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:59 PM on May 28, 2012


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