Venturi, the pioneering Monegasque electromobility company, is continuing its development of Antarctica, the first ever “zero emissions” electric vehicle capable of operating in extreme conditions.
Antarctica successfully passed its first road tests in the southern French ski resort of Auron as well as operational tests in a climate chamber: two critical steps before functioning at temperatures of -50°C (-58°F) in the South Pole.
Last month, the Venturi team developing Antarctica travelled to Auron, a winter sports resort two hours’ drive from Monaco, to test the vehicle under real cold weather conditions for the first time.
Over three days and four nights, the tests pitted the caterpillar tracked-vehicle against sub-zero temperatures similar to those encountered in the Antarctic.
The specialist engineers also checked the on-board installations, battery and engine management, lighting and de-icing functions, as well as charging and parking the vehicle outside in the cold.
“This is the same team that work on Venturi’s racing cars, so they are very used to working with time constraints and to short deadlines”, explained Nicolas Ollivier, Antarctica developer.
“We have to react quickly at every stage of the project, especially during tests on elements identified as requiring optimization.”
Following the tests, Venturi Antarctica spent three days in a climate chamber in Modena, Italy, where the engineering team checked some of the vehicle’s functions in temperatures below -40°C (-40°F).
These included the charging system, the antifreeze and de-icing system, the mechanical and electrical opening and closure mechanisms, and the display screen and joystick.
During the first week of March, the vehicle will undergo a new phase of tests in the area around Telegraph Creek in British Columbia, Canada, in climatic conditions closer to those that Antarctica will eventually face on a daily basis.
A cold snap is expected, which will see temperatures vary between -25° (-13°F) and -35°C (-31°F), similar to the kinds of range seen in the Antarctic.
Following the Canadian expedition, the vehicle will be shipped to Antarctica for the culmination of the project entrusted by Prince Albert II of Monaco to Gildo Pastor, President of Venturi.
During a trip to the Antarctic in 2009, the Sovereign observed that the scientific research stations had no environmentally “clean” vehicles in which to travel and move equipment.
“I am proud to see that the Antarctica project is progressing on time,” said Pastor. “The latest tests carried out and those to come mark critical stages of the vehicle’s development.
“My teams are working flat-out to ensure that the Antarctica functions effectively in the extreme Antarctic conditions.
“As we approach the final goal, I’m delighted with the scale of the challenge we have set ourselves: Antarctica is a wonderful adventure “Made in Monaco”, a combination of innovation, cutting edge technology, and a contribution to environmental protection and scientific research.”