French All-Electric To Take On Rugged Africa

French luxury electric vehicle maker Venturi—you might recall the company’s “high-voltage buggy” called America—says it will send its Berlingo model on a long-distance adventure across eastern Africa. Venturi, which has set out on similar expeditions in the past, is calling this latest stunt “Mission 04.” The plan is for the company’s all-electric Berlingo to travel almost 3,000 miles across a variety of terrain.

Starting at the headquarters of the United Nations Environment Program in Nairobi, Kenya, just a few hours north of the base of Mount Kilimanjaro, the Berlingo will travel through nature reserves in Tanzania and Zambia, drive along Lake Victoria, through the Okavango Delta to Botswana, and then end in Johannesburg.

image via Venturi

Equipped with three 23.5-kilowatt-hour, nickel sodium chloride batteries and a 42-kilowatt, three phase asynchronous electric motor, the Berlingo has a range of approximately 310 miles and a top speed of just under 70 miles per hour. The vehicle will be driven by Xavier Chevrin, who once drove the same model of the electric car from Shanghai to Paris, a nearly 8,700-mile journey that took two and a half months to complete.

The initiative is backed by Prince Albert II of Monaco, who we’ve noted as being somewhat of an EV enthusiast.

Finding appropriate stations to charge the vehicle’s batteries will be something of a challenge—Venturi notes that 65 percent of Africans go without electricity—as will the rugged terrain of the African wilderness. But should Chervin complete the trip in the all-electric Berlingo, it will prove that EVs have the ability to stand up to some tough conditions. The entire journey will be documented (footage from the trek is planned to be made into a short film), and interested parties can follow along on a special website set up for adventure, which is set to kick off on May 11.

Aaron Colter is a freelance writer and marketing consultant in Portland, Oregon. A graduate of Purdue University, he has worked for the NCAA, Dark Horse Comics, Willamette Week, AOL, The Huffington Post, Top Shelf Productions, DigitalTrends, theMIX agency, SuicideGirls, EarthTechling, d'Errico Studios and others. He is also the co-founder of BananaStandMedia.com, a free record label, recording studio, and distribution service for independent musicians.