The more I learn about Solar, the more I saw how much potential it had, I wanted to use Solar PV on the trip – but how? and would it work?
I always knew that my great big Landcruiser was not the most efficient vehicle – it’s not really supposed to be! From day one I started measuring the MPG (miles per gallon) and started to look as ways to improve it a bit.
There are a number of reasons why you want the best MPG you can possible get on an overland cruiser;
1st reasons is the environment, we produce enough emissions in the western world without this trip adding significantly to it – what ever way I looked at it, driving to Cape Town will still create less emissions than flying.. Raising money for a charity that promotes renewable technology makes this especially important!
2nd reason is cost, while fuel has dropped from it very high prices recently – I suspect it will go back up. Fuel is particularly expensive for those in Africa. The prices rises have disproportionally effected the poorest people in the world.
3rd reason, fuel and water are often difficult to come by in sections of the journey, while the landcruiser will have a longrange tank – I want to use as little fuel as possible. Liquids are heavy so it makes getting stuck more likely (and more difficult to get out!)
4th reason is the Solar industry is a growing one – and I want to show the potential of the technology. I really do think that it will potentially help to solve some our biggest issues, such as climate change and security of fuel supplies (think Iraq)
How is it going to work?
Well I don’t indent to convert the whole truck so it is running on electric. It is possible to convert cars of this size to electric (or EV) Nick Viera has converted his Jeep Cherokee into an electrically power one – you can find out more here. While Nick’s conversion is amazing, much of the car is taken up by batteries and he relies upon the grid for it to be charged. We would also have a major problem with spare parts in Africa!
So I am making a compromise…
Ever since I was 19 I have owned BMW’s, I have owned 5 E30 3 series variants (1983-1992). Unlike some perceptions of BMW’s they are actually incredible efficient, parts are long lasting and striving for driver enjoyment the cars are perfectly balanced but also light. The also often contain technology which is ahead of the rest of the market. BMW have recently introduced “Efficient Dynamics”, which is a number of different technologies that help make their cars as efficient as possible.
Obviously I am not going to be able to use some of the more advanced technologies such as the intelligent alternators that only charge the battery when the car is not under load (i.e braking or going downhill) or the automatic start stop function that automatically switches the engine of at traffic lights (I don’t expect this would be much use in the Sahara anyway!)