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70,000km electric crusade plugs in to Perth

Powering on: Wiebe Wakker’s electric journey has taken him above the Arctic Circle in Norway, through the sands of the Middle East and the jungles of Myanamar on his way to Australia.

885 days and 33 countries later, Dutchman Wiebe set for home run across Nullarbor

General News logo16 Aug 2018

A DUTCHMAN who has crowdsourced his way across the globe through 33 countries in a 2009 Volkswagen Golf wagon converted to run on electricity has made it to Perth en route to his final destination of Sydney.

 

Environmental activist, photographer, blogger and electric car enthusiast Wiebe Wakker left his Netherlands home in March 2016, zig-zagging his way across Europe, the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia and now Australia in a 70,000km crusade (so far) to prove the long-distance endurance of electric vehicles while fulfilling his other great love: travelling.

 

As a former student with no money and only a few sponsors, Mr Wakker has relied on the generosity of readers of his PlugMeIn blog to help him with offers of food, accommodation and electricity to charge his car.

 

He has stacked up more than 36,000 followers on Facebook, along with others on his website, Instagram and YouTube.

 

So far, there have been no shortage of takers, with more than 350 people offering accommodation in Australia, including more than 40 in Perth.

 

Mr Wiebe arrived in Perth yesterday on day 885 of his adventure, having made his way down the west coast from Darwin where he and his car – dubbed the Blue Bandit – arrived by ship from Indonesia.

 

He said the journey through the sparse country from Darwin was challenging due to the 200km range limit of his car’s batteries, but help from Aboriginal communities, roadhouses and farms got him through.

 

“Arriving on Australia’s shores already felt like a big accomplishment, and now having reached Perth I am very proud that I can also show everyone that it is possible to reach one of the world’s most isolated cities in an electric car,” he said.


Mr Wiebe’s next big challenge is to cross the Nullarbor to Port Augusta where he plans to turn north to Alice Springs before crossing to Townsville in Queensland and then south to Melbourne before finishing in Sydney.

 

His old VW Golf was originally powered by a diesel engine, but this was ripped out by an electric car conversion business and replaced by a 150kW electric motor powered by a 37kWh battery in the boot.

 

Unlike modern electric cars that have bespoke drivetrains, Mr Weibe’s Golf drives the front wheels via the original manual gearbox which is locked in second gear for forward driving. Reverse gear is selected for going backwards, rather than reversing the direction of the AC electric motor like a Tesla.

 

Mr Wiebe said in a video that his car was theoretically capable of 250km/h, but was restricted to 160km/h.

 

He said he had to carry several types of electric charging cable to suit different sockets, with a duplicate of each in case one failed in the backblocks of a remote country.


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