Hyundai has achieved the first-ever crossing of Antarctica, the globe’s coldest, driest and least populated continent, using a relatively unmodified Santa Fe.
Driven by Patrick Bergel, the great-grandson of the famous Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, the balloon-tyred Santa Fe made it from Union Glacier Camp on the inland South American side, to McMurdo on the coastal New Zealand side – and back again.
The 30-day expedition took place in December, but for some reason we’re only hearing about it now. It was timed to commemorate Shackleton’s ill-fated but supremely gallant attempt to be the first explorers to reach the South Pole.
The car in the limelight was a 2.2 diesel model, with a standard interior, no roll cage or seats removed, and the standard DAB radio, which, let’s be honest, must have been about as much use on the trip as a poo-flavoured icicle.
Apparently the only mods made to the car were to allow it to use the giant, low-pressure tyres. New subframes and suspension were added, and gears were added inside the wheel hubs that could better cope with all the forces involved, and that reduced the gearing effect formerly increased by the huge tyres.
Other changes include cool af wheel arch extensions, a larger fuel tank and a switch to allow running on Jet A-1 fuel; the only kind available on the icy continent. A pre-heater helped keep the worst of the cold from damaging important components.
With that all sorted, the Santa Fe took on the 3600-mile journey and won. On the way it had to find a way through floating ice shelves that are constantly moving, but at least the Antarctic summer meant that the coldest temperatures it had to battle were a mere minus 28 degrees celcius. A bit nippy if you’re not dressed for it.
The Hyundai averaged only 17mph on the adventure, owing to the constant need to check it wasn’t going to fall through any fissures or into the sea. Not stressful at all, then. Hyundai is hoping that the pretty awesome achievement makes people start to think differently about the brand.
Scott Noh, Head of Overseas Marketing Group, Hyundai Motor Company said:
“We were aware of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s story and as a Company felt a resonance with his courage and pioneering spirit.
“Our film celebrates this spirit and through Patrick, his Great Grandson, completes his dream to cross Antarctica – just a hundred years later. We hope that it showcases Hyundai as brand that that is more than just a means of transportation.”