by Gianluca Errico
MONACO. The VENTURI Antarctica, the first electric polar exploration vehicle, was officially presented at the Prince’s Palace in Monaco on Friday. Initiated by H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco through his Foundation, this unique project seeks to make available to the scientific community in Antarctica a zero-emissions means of transport which can be operated in extreme conditions. VENTURI Automobiles, the Monegasque company specialized in electric vehicles, has launched the VENTURI Antarctica, the first zero-emissions vehicle capable of operating on hostile terrain and withstanding temperatures as low as -50°C. “It is with great pride that I take this opportunity to discover the first polar exploration vehicle developed by Monegasque car manufacturer VENTURI, to whom I offer my thanks for having risen to this formidable challenge. The VENTURI Antarctica will be a significant asset for improving our understanding of the polar regions, the first to be impacted by the effects of climate disruption,” stressed H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco.
The polar regions are the first witnesses to climate change and among the first parts of the world to experience the negative consequences: pollution, the loss of species, and the threats to indigenous peoples are considerable in these areas. The stakes are high over the long term, and the impact of warming is, unfortunately, already very visible: Arctic sea ice and glaciers on land are melting much more quickly than forecast. In the face of these facts, the Prince Albert II Foundation is working to ensure that in future, these regions can be covered by international agreements in which environmental protection would be a priority. Since it was founded in 2006, the Foundation has also supported around 30 projects aimed at achieving better understanding and better protection of these regions. “Through this extremely high-tech project, the teams at VENTURI Automobiles are offering a concrete and innovative response to stations based in the Antarctic, and the Foundation is happy to be able to support this remarkable initiative. By giving scientists a clean, economical and efficient means of transport, VENTURI will help to improve research conditions on the ground, providing a sustainable solution for conveying equipment to study sites,” said H.E. Mr Bernard Fautrier, Vice President and CEO of the Prince Albert II Foundation. Between 2013 and 2015, VENTURI Automobiles developed a prototype for the Antarctica, which was initially tested in a cold region of Europe. Making good use of the data collected from this first version, as well as the technology developed for its race cars (which use the same battery cells), the VENTURI engineering team has now come up with a second version: equipped with higher performance battery technology and improved overall efficiency, the Antarctica has wheel-mounted caterpillar tracks, 2x60kW power and weighs in at around 2 tonnes. Designed to operate in the extreme conditions of Antarctica, it can carry three people, as well as luggage and equipment. It has a range of approximately 45 kilometres and a speed of 20 km/h in realistic operating conditions. Following its official presentation at the Prince’s Palace, an event attended by and held at the initiative of H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, H.E. Bernard Fautrier, Vice President and CEO of the Foundation, and Gildo Pastor, President of VENTURI Automobiles, the Antarctica will undertake a unique expedition in Canada which has been titled “Back to Telegraph Creek”. On 6 and 7 March 2019, the vehicle will pay a symbolic tribute to the Croisière Blanche in 1934, one of four Citroën rallies during the early twentieth century. At the controls of the Antarctica will be Prince Albert II of Monaco, Xavier Chevrin, President of VENTURI North America, who led VENTURI’s previous missions (see paragraph below), and Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.
They will take turns at the helm to cover a 42 km route between Dease Lake and Telegraph Creek, the final part of the expedition which was not completed due to the nature of the terrain and the severe weather conditions at the time. “Back to Telegraph Creek” is one of the VENTURI Global Challenges, missions organised by VENTURI Automobiles to test the company’s electric vehicles in the most extreme conditions and most challenging terrains on the planet. The recurring theme of these missions is the most daring adventures by car of the last century, retracing the routes of the Citroën expeditions from Shanghai to Paris and from Nairobi to Johannesburg, for example (the Croisière Jaune and Croisière Noire). During these challenges, VENTURI Automobiles has set several records and achieved a number of world firsts, positioning itself as a pioneer and leader in the field of high-performance electric vehicles. “Back to Telegraph Creek” is the first major test for the Antarctica. It will also be an opportunity to confirm its reliability and capacity to withstand the most challenging climatic conditions, with the spectacular and imposing landscapes of the Tahltan Reserve in the wild Stikine River region providing the backdrop. At the end of this mission, the vehicle will be sent to Antarctica to give scientists on the ground a solution that will allow them to access study areas, while avoiding the pollution that is inherent in the use of vehicles powered by combustion engine. But the story doesn’t end there – VENTURI Automobiles is not ruling out the possibility of creating new versions of its vehicles for entirely novel uses. “The task entrusted to us by the Sovereign Prince and his Foundation is a challenge which we were very honoured to accept. We have worked with the most prominent experts in the scientific community to design a vehicle whose features very precisely meet all of their demands, while being able to operate effectively in the extreme conditions found in Antarctica. Until now, researchers had to get around on foot in some areas, in order to avoid polluting them. Now, with the VENTURI Antarctica, they will have access to an efficient, very manoeuverable vehicle with excellent traction. Scientists will be able to carry out their research under optimum conditions, without polluting these sites where analysis requires molecular precision. We are proud to have developed technology that meets an essential and very specific need, at a time when environmental protection and efforts to combat climate change are critical challenges for our society.” said Gildo Pastor, President of VENTURI Automobiles. Recently, Pastor has chosen six-time motorcycling world champion Max Biaggi to represent the brand as they share a passion for motor sports for more than 15 years.
Gildo PASTOR has big ambitions for his brand, and so asking his old friend to help spread VENTURI’s reputation across the globe was a natural step. “I have great affection for Max. He’s open, determined and passionate, just as he was when I first met him. I see myself in him. It is an honour for us to have him wear the VENTURI colours. Undoubtedly, his presence at our side will help us in our growth process.” stressed Gildo Pastor. In fact, Max Biaggi will represent VENTURI at major events. He will also play an active role in the expansion of the pioneering electric vehicle brand, which will celebrate its twentieth anniversary in 2020. “I am very happy to start this new venture with an ambitious and pioneer man such as Gildo is. We both have the desire to explore new projects, reaching new targets and go beyond. I am looking forward to a productive partnership and to contribute on the ongoing VENTURI growth process.” – said Max Biaggi. Before then, from his offices in Monaco and in addition to working on confidential projects, Gildo Pastor will make another attempt on the world land speed record, still held by VENTURI at 549 km/h. He will also present a fully redesigned version of the polar exploration vehicle Antarctica. Meanwhile, VENTURI is continuing its exploits in the Formula E championship. Max Biaggi gave a demonstration of the team’s single-seater car during the Rome E-Prix on 13 April. Max will also be working closely with the eight young people who have just joined VENTURI NEXT GEN, the first academy for young drivers in electric motor sports