Over­land jour­ney makes power point

Albany Advertiser - - NEWS - Toby Hussey

Dutch­man Weibe Wekker is prov­ing elec­tric cars can con­quer the world.

The 31-year-old is driv­ing from his Euro­pean home to Syd­ney on a once-in-a-life­time trip to put elec­tric car tech­nol­ogy to the test.

Mr Wekker’s 21⁄ 2- year trip has seen him visit some of the world’s most stun­ning and re­mote lo­ca­tions, which he has shared with his more than 30,000 so­cial me­dia fol­low­ers.

He has vis­ited 33 coun­tries from Europe to Aus­tralia, and last week, af­ter 17,000km on the road, ar­rived in Al­bany.

“It’s amaz­ing — the trip of a life­time,” he said.

“I get to see a lot of nice stuff and meet a lot of in­ter­est­ing peo­ple.

“Aus­tralians are very cu­ri­ous (and) laid-back com­pared to trav­el­ling through Asia.”

The trip started as a univer­sity project in 2016, and has seen him drive his con­verted Volk­swa­gen from town to town. Nightly recharges have taken be­tween four and 12 hours, cost­ing about $11 in elec­tric­ity — about half the cost of petrol. He gets about 200km to a charge. Mr Wekker praised RAC’s Elec­tric High­way of 11 charg­ing sta­tions be­tween Perth and Au­gusta, some of which claim to charge from flat to full within 30 min­utes.

He said the trip was proof the tech­nol­ogy was prac­ti­cal world­wide.

“They say elec­tric cars aren’t vi­able for Aus­tralia be­cause Aus­tralians drive such large dis­tances — but it’s not true,” he said.

“Sta­tis­tics ( show Aus­tralians) only drive 20km-30km a day (on av­er­age).”

Since leav­ing home, he’s vis­ited cities in­clud­ing Moscow, Is­tan­bul, Tehran and Sin­ga­pore, stay­ing and charg­ing his car each night with fam­i­lies ea­ger to help the trav­eller and learn about the tech­nol­ogy.

How­ever, de­spite his op­ti­mism, Mr Wekker’s trip has proven the tech­nol­ogy still has some ways to go.

Bumpy south­ern Asian roads took their toll, rup­tur­ing four cells in his bat­tery pack and re­quir­ing pro­fes­sional help from Europe.

The bat­tery has also run flat, which was not as big a prob­lem in Europe but would be in ru­ral Aus­tralia where passersby and charg­ing sta­tions are rarer.

How­ever, given his car is us­ing nine-year-old tech­nol­ogy and the in­dus­try is pro­gress­ing quickly — Tesla claims its new Model S can cover 540km be­tween charges, while the cheaper 2019 Nis­san Leaf has been touted to reach 360km be­tween charges — he said it was a sure sign of the fu­ture.

“I try to help by pro­mot­ing mov­ing to a more sus­tain­able fu­ture,” he said.

“I think elec­tric cars are a small part in the so­lu­tion.”

This week his jour­ney con­tin­ues to­wards Syd­ney via the for­mi­da­ble Nullar­bor.

Pic­ture: Toby Hussey

Weibe Wekker has driven from The Nether­lands to Al­bany in an elec­tric car.

Pic­tures: In­sta­gram

Mr Wekker in Kuala Lumpur.

Mr Wekker in the Kim­ber­ley.

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