Scots couple to take on Mongol rally in electric car

Chris Ramsey will become the first person to enter an electric vehicle in the Mongol Rally. Picture: Maverick Photo Agency.
Chris Ramsey will become the first person to enter an electric vehicle in the Mongol Rally. Picture: Maverick Photo Agency.
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It has been described as the greatest motoring adventure on the planet, stretching 10,000 miles across the mountains, deserts and steppe of Europe and Asia each year.

The Mongol Rally all but intends for drivers get lost and break down in some of the most challenging terrain imaginable for cars to negotiate.

But one Scot is taking the challenge to a new level this year as he seeks to become the first person to complete the mammoth event in a fully electric car.

Chris Ramsey from Aberdeenshire, along with wife Julie, will enter their Nissan Leaf in the endurance epic this weekend. The couple will set off from Goodwood Race Course on Sunday heading for Ulan-Ude in Siberia, via Mongolia, with around 340 other petrol and diesel cars.

And Ramsey is hoping to silence a few doubters about the merits of alternatives to petrol power just a week after Swedish giant Volvo signalled an end to the combustion engine, saying all its new cars would have a petrol component by the end of the decade.

“This is a really exciting challenge,” Mr Ramsey said.

“I’m hoping it will dispel many of the myths about electric vehicles and their efficiency. I’m passionate about raising awareness of electric vehicles and the important role they are playing now, and will do in the future, in reducing our carbon emissions.”

The Mongol Rally, now in its 13th year, is particularly challenging, as there is no back-up, no support – and no set route.

Chris is a passionate advocate of electric vehicles (EVs) and is no stranger to the challenges ahead. He already has several rallies already under his belt including John O’Groats to Land’s End, London to Monte Carlo and Scotland’s North Coast 500, all completed in an EV.

His car can be charged up at any electricity socket and the couple will be stocked up with enough adaptors and cables to ensure they can power at most places they stop.

Mr Ramsey founded Plug In Adventures six years ago with the aim of combining his passion for adventure and electric vehicles. It comprises a group of EV enthusiasts based in Scotland who seek to get the public involved in different ways, championing all things EV-related.

In November, his passion for promoting electric vehicles was recognised by industry leading authority GreenFleet, and he was awarded GreenFleet EV Champion 2016.

There is no set route for the Mongol Rally and no limitations, so Chris and Julie plan to do some voluntary work while driving through countries including Kazakhstan and Mongolia.

The couple are also hoping to raise funds for WWF Scotland.

Sam Gardner, acting director of the green charity, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Chris as he undertakes this world first.

“EVs are the way forward and we’re calling on the Scottish Government to clean up the transport sector by phasing out the sale of new fossil fuel cars by 2030 to reduce emissions, clean up air pollution and improve the nation’s health.

“We wish Chris and Julie the best of luck and thank them for choosing to raise funds for us so we can continue our work in Scotland.”

The Mongol Rally is organised by a group called the Adventurists who are supporting Mr Ramsey’s efforts to complete the rally in an electric car for the first time to show their commitment to sustainability and the environment.

The rules state that participants must drive a small, sub-1.0-litre engine car as it will make the event more of a challenge with a greater chance of a breakdown, meaning drivers can interact with locals along the way.

The drive is unsupported with no on the road back-up – participants are expected to get themselves out of trouble.

Dutch banking giant ING predicted last week that all new cars sold in Europe will be electric within less than two decades, driven by a ­combination of government support, falling battery costs and economies of scale, after Volvo announced all its new models will be “electrified” by 2019.