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A Powered EuroAfrica Drive: Geotab Africa joins in South Africa

Geotab Inc is one of the powered Eurafrica drive sponsors that saw a Dutch couple, Maarten van Pel and Renske Cox, emerge from Amsterdam, Netherlands to South Africa in an electric Skoda Enyaq iv80 SUV. Cox and van Pel began their expedition on 4 November 2022 and arrived in Cape Town, South Africa on 08 July 2023. Their expedition’s mission is to inspire, educate and take action to address climate change through their and other people’s tales and projects that continue to uphold sustainability efforts in various ways. 

Mybroadband reports that “the pair aims to inspire people to take action against climate change by sharing the stories of people and projects that have implemented sustainability efforts in various ways”. Geotab Inc is fitting as a sponsor for this global expedition because of its industry-leading, expandable platforms that connect vehicles to the internet and unpacks a wealth of analytics and data insights. Our fleet electrifying solutions guarantee fleets a reduction in fuel dependence and greenhouse gas emissions. This way fleets become environmentally sustainable, all while cutting costs. 

Cox and van Pel drove for roughly 24, 580 kilometers (about 360.4 mi) from the Netherlands to South Africa. The journey saw them go through four European and eighteen African countries and stopped in different areas along their journey to observe and take in various kinds of projects that are centered around looking after the planet and upholding environmental sustainability. After driving through Spain, into Morocco, Cox, and van Pel’s went southwards along Africa’s western coast and were confronted with poor road infrastructure. This reality led to the drive between Serti in Nigeria and Banyo in Cameroon being at an average speed of 12.2 km (about 7.58 mi)/h over a period of five days.  

 The couple indicated that the plethora of vegetation in Cameroon, made it difficult to lay out their solar panels for charging; they had to charge in the locals’ backyards. This was an opportune moment to educate people about electric vehicles. 

The electric SUV was fitted with PV solar panels on the rooftop boxes and bonnets to top up the vehicle’s battery while it is expediting through the globe. However, most of the power came from a set of sixty 180 Wp panels stored in six purpose-built drawers. When these panels are laid on the ground, they cover a wide surface area. 

According to the 4x4Electric website, when the pair arrived in Africa, they experienced a change in the charging of the panels. They wrote “in Africa, the power of the sun is much stronger than in the Netherlands. Africa’s abundant sunlight presents a fantastic opportunity for harnessing solar power.” Because of this added advantage, Cox, and van Pel were able to drive through multiple African countries on solar energy only. To drive the point home Cox, and van Pel wrote that “to travel 5500 kilometers (about 3417.54 mi) from the Netherlands to Senegal, we have used +-1225 kWh. A similar petrol car would use 337 liters (about 89.03 gal) of fuel to drive the same distance”. 

Nothing is immune to challenges, and this SUV was not spared. In aiding the trip and ensuring van Pel and Cox had all supplies, the vehicle is installed with a rooftop tent, and all-terrain tires that can handle both on and off -road driving. Additionally, the vehicle carried food, clothing, and a 50-liter water tank. And all these significantly impacted the vehicle’s potential range. 

9 July 2023 the couple drove through the Vioolsdrift border into South Africa, Cape Town. This border is over 960 kilometers (about 596.52 mi) long and stretches from the West Coast of South Africa to the Kalahari Desert. Cox detailed their border crossing into South Africa “as being in the top two on the continent so far.” Upon arriving in Cape Town, the 4x4Electric website indicated that “Despite these challenges, the team has proven it is possible to travel long distances in a sustainable way, with a regular electric car and charging it with solar panels. With this new way of travel, one can be completely self-sufficient whenever needed.”  

Cox is quoted stating “We are thrilled to have reached Cape Town, the halfway point of our sustainable expedition. Our journey has been a true test of our team’s resilience and the capacity of our electric car and solar system. At the same time, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience the both of us will never forget.” While van Pel indicated that “as this expedition started as a crazy idea, we learned how much is possible if you just believe and truly go for it. We hope that our journey will inspire others to explore sustainable alternatives in all kinds of ways. As we think it is a lot of fun to participate in this transition.” 

Because of the ongoing power crises in South Africa, van Pel and Cox had their first-time experience of load-shedding – an ironic moment for them. However, they did not have to worry about not being able to power their vehicle up because Grid Cars, an Electric Vehicle Charging Service Equipment (EVSE) and Charging Stations Infrastructure company, is their charging station sponsor, while they are in South Africa. 

van Pel and Cox are set to arrive in Gauteng on 07 August, through De Hoek Plaza on the N3. Grid Cars, Geotab Africa, and other EV drivers will drive in a convoy with the couple into the big city of gold. On Wednesday, 09 August, the EV adventurers will tell the tales of their expedition in a sit-in gathering at AXIZ Auditorium, Midrand, Johannesburg. 

Once van Pel and Cox are done with their Mzansi expedition, they intend to travel back to the Netherlands, this time going up the eastern side of Africa. Learn more about the Expedition.