The world’s first all-electric polar exploration vehicle, the Venturi Antarctica, was deployed to the Princess Elisabeth Antarctica research station in December 2021, a time when temperatures frequently dropped below -50 degrees Fahrenheit.
In fact, the Monegasque-made tracked EV was designed to run just fine at -58F (-50C), but as temperatures began rising up to 14F (-10C), a team from Venturi made its way from Monaco to the research station at the end of 2022 to make some modifications and upgrades, so it would better cope with the warmer climate.
Two air intakes were added to the front of the vehicle, along with a ventilation system that allows the interior temperature to be reduced when the sun and the power electronics generate too much heat. Those power electronics also needed extra cooling, so the Venturi team added extra air intakes and vents to the front and rear of the Antarctica so they don’t overheat.
Another upgrade was to the sprockets, which were replaced with newly-designed units that reduce vibrations when snow sticks to them.
The Venturi Antarctica has covered about 310 miles (500 kilometers) since it was deployed in 2021 and it’s now being used by scientists for journeys no more than 25 miles (40 km) because the consistency of the snow has a big impact on range.
“The Venturi Antarctica is the perfect fit for the zero-emission concept of the Princess Elisabeth station. It’s an important advantage for the scientists and the team working at the station. This vehicle can be used for field missions while being recharged by the Princess Elisabeth Antarctica station’s renewable energy sources (wind and solar),” said Alain Hubert, Head of the Belgian Antarctic Research Expeditions (BELARE) and founder of the International Polar Foundation (IPF), the station’s official operator.
The Venturi Antarctica exploration vehicle can carry up to six people on its seats and fold-down bench and has a range of 31 miles (50 km) in temperatures as low as -58F (-50C), courtesy of a 52.6 kWh battery, with the possibility of hooking up a second pack to extend the range.