Antartica’s only EV had to be redesigned because of climate change

Most electric vehicles get upgrades to boost performance or range, but Antarctica’s one and only EV has received a tune-up due to the realities of climate change. Venturi has revealed that it upgraded its Venturi Antarctica electric explorer early last year due to warmer conditions on the continent. The original machine was designed to operate in winter temperatures of -58F, but the southern polar region is now comparatively balmy at 14F — and that affected both crews and performance.

The company has added a ventilation system and air intakes to the front of the Antarctica to prevent overheating in the cockpit, while additional intakes keep the power electronics from cooking. Redesigned wheel sprockets were also necessary to maximize the tracked EV’s capabilities. The warmer snow was sticking to the sprockets, creating vibrations as it compacted and hardened. Future upgrades will help restore range lost to changing snow consistency. The Antarctica is built to cover 31 miles, but scientists have been limiting that to 25 miles.

Ars Technica notes Venturi’s EV has been in use at Belgium’s Princess Elisabeth Antarctica Station since December 2021. It has two modest 80HP motors and just a 52.6kWh battery (plus an optional second pack), but raw power isn’t the point. The design lets station residents perform research without contributing to emissions or polluting a relatively pristine region.

You might not see Venturi make similar climate-related upgrades for a while. However, the refresh shows how global warming can affect transportation in subtle ways. Venturi and other manufacturers may have to design their next explorers on the assumption that Antarctica won’t be as chilly as before.

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