CROSS­ING THE SA­HARA

In a Toy­ota Prius PHV

Road Trip - - CONTENTS - Story by Sup­plied/paul van Gass | Cap­tured by Toy­ota Global

While two in­trepid Pol­ish trav­ellers are still busy cross­ing the African con­ti­nent with their elec­tric Nis­san LEAF ve­hi­cle, a group of ex­pe­ri­enced Ja­panese ad­ven­tur­ers have re­traced an epic route over the Sa­hara Desert in the lat­est Toy­ota Prius plug-in hy­brid ve­hi­cle.

Team ACP was formed in 1979 by a group of Ja­panese driv­ing en­thu­si­asts who wanted to pre­pare them­selves for the daunt­ing Dakar Rally Raid. They got hooked af­ter their foray and par­tic­i­pated in sub­se­quent ral­lies, driv­ing from Paris to Dakar an­nu­ally for the next twelve years. From their ex­pe­ri­ences driv­ing through the desert, the team mem­bers de­vel­oped an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of dif­fer­ent cul­tures, as well as an in­creased con­cern for the en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues the world faces.

Af­ter the Prius was launched in 1997, Team ACP was pre­sented with the op­por­tu­nity to drive the Prius on ex­pe­di­tions on five dif­fer­ent con­ti­nents – from North Amer­ica to Africa – over a ten-year pe­riod. This al­lowed them to test the fea­si­bil­ity of driv­ing hy­brid elec­tri­fied ve­hi­cles in dif­fer­ent parts of the world un­der vary­ing con­di­tions. At the same time, the team lever­aged the pub­lic­ity from their ex­pe­di­tions to

cast a light on ef­forts made in dif­fer­ent re­gions to­ward green en­ergy and other sus­tain­abil­ity projects.

In March this year Team ACP re­traced the Paris-dakar route they first took al­most forty years ago, set­ting off from Paris in France for a 7 000 km trip, cross­ing the vast Sa­hara Desert on their way to Dakar, Sene­gal.

Af­ter travers­ing the snow-cov­ered fields and moun­tains of France the team crossed the Pyre­nees, stop­ping over in Madrid be­fore mak­ing their way to Tar­ifa for a fer­ry­trip over the Strait of Gi­bral­tar to Tang­ier. From there they drove to Casablanca and Marrakesh be­fore reach­ing the Tar­faya wind farm in South­west­ern Morocco – the largest in Africa with 131 wind tur­bines in op­er­a­tion. Ac­cord­ing to the team it is still less than the many goats they en­coun­tered on their way …

From there the Prius made its way through the West­ern Sa­hara Desert to Raayun and Dankura, and then it was on­wards to Nouad­hi­bou and Nouakchott in Mau­ri­ta­nia. In the elec­tric­ity-less desert the Prius PHV acted as a power source; its out­put of 100 V/1,500 W was more than enough to boil a pot of tea or cook sup­per in the mid­dle of the dunes.

Heavy winds and deep sand, not to men­tion herds of camel, stymied the

progress of Team ACP, and more than once the two-wheel drive Prius got stuck in the thick sand. But they pushed on, and soon ne­go­ti­ated the African sa­vanna, with its huge baobab trees, to reach Saint­louis in Sene­gal. From there it was just a short hop to Dakar, the fi­nal des­ti­na­tion of the team. But be­fore ar­riv­ing in Dakar to com­plete the 7 000 km trek, the team stopped at the pink Lake Retba, fa­mous for its salt har­vest­ing.

This re­cent trek of Team ACP with a plug-in hy­brid ve­hi­cle through the Sa­hara and North­west Africa may be over, but the jour­ney to­wards an ever-bet­ter en­vi­ron­ment con­tin­ues.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.