Hyundai Motor has made history
when a near-standard 2.2-litre diesel Santa Fe became the first passenger
vehicle to be driven across the continent of Antarctica from Union Camp to
McMurdo and back again. The Santa Fe was driven by Patrick Bergel, the Great
Grandson of legendary polar explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton. The journey which took place in December 2016
was timed to commemorate the centenary of Shackleton’s heroic Trans-Antarctic
expedition of 1914-16 and has been made into a short film by Hyundai which was
shown for the first time at an event at the Hospital Club, London.
The 30-day expedition saw the
Santa Fe production vehicle, which was modified only slightly to fit giant
low-pressure tyres, take on almost 5,800km of icy terrain in bitter conditions.
It not only had to cover extreme distances at temperatures down to minus
28-degrees Celsius but it had to plot new paths on floating ice caps that have
never been travelled by wheeled vehicle before.
Scott Noh, Head of Overseas
Marketing Group, Hyundai Motor Company said: “We were aware of Sir Ernest
Shackleton’s story and as a Company felt a resonance with his courage and
pioneering spirit. Our film celebrates this spirit and through Patrick, his
Great Grandson, completes his dream to cross Antarctica – just a hundred years
later. We hope that it showcases Hyundai as brand that that is more than just a
means of transportation.”
One of Antarctica’s most
experienced driving experts, Gisli Jónsson from Arctic Trucks was tasked with
managing the vehicle’s preparation before the event and then led the expedition
out in the Antarctic.
To fit the tyres, the car’s
body had to be raised with new sub-frames and suspension and gears were fitted
inside the wheel hubs to cope with the different forces and the need to turn
more slowly to run at the same speed.
The only other modifications
were to increase the fuel tank capacity, to convert the car to run on Jet A-1
fuel – the only fuel available on the continent and to install a pre-heater for
Patrick Bergel said: “The
journey was incredible and the car was a pleasure to drive. Sometimes it felt
less like driving and more like sailing across the snow. It was a proper
expedition with a challenge to accomplish that nobody else had done before. It
was about endurance not speed - we only averaged only 27km/h – and success was
about how we and the car handled it. I’m very reluctant to make direct
comparisons between what my great grandfather did and what we’ve done recently.
But it is quite something to have been the first to do this in a wheeled
Jónsson explained: “It was a
pretty standard Santa Fe. The engine, the management system, the transmission,
front differential and driveshaft were all completely standard. We did have to
fit big, low-pressure tyres though – they are important as it’s all about
getting the vehicle up on top of the snow rather than ploughing through it. We
were running on one-tenth of a normal road tyre pressure - it’s so soft you can
drive over someone’s hand and it won't hurt them! The car ‘trod’ so lightly
that all our tyre tracks were gone by the time we came back.”
“People who have a lot of
experience of Antarctica know what it does to machinery: basically, anything
and everything falls apart,” said Jónsson, adding that “Even the big machines
crack up and break apart.This was the first time this full traverse has ever
been attempted, let alone doing it there and back. A lot of people thought we
would never ever make it and when we returned they couldn’t believe we’d
actually done it!”
Source: Hyundai Motor
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