There have been bumps in the road, one or two scrapes and the odd episode when the air turned blue.

Oddly, however, what road trip adventurers Chris and Julie Ramsey claim there has been surprisingly little of as they journey from north to south pole in their electric car, is the dreaded range anxiety.

The Bridge of Don husband and wife team have entered the final phase of an epic 17,000 miles EV drive from the top of the world to the south pole.

Now in Chile, they are within a few weeks of becoming the first motorists ever to drive an electric vehicle on the pristine frozen landscape of Antarctica.

And, when they eventually arrive at their geographic South Pole destination - having crossed 14 countries, taken in desert tracks, sand dunes, frozen lakes, mountain heights, crammed city highways and bandit country roads - they will become the first to have nailed the entire journey in any type of car, combustion engine or otherwise.

The Herald: The couple have slept in a tent on the roof of their Nissan SUVThe couple have slept in a tent on the roof of their Nissan SUV (Image: Chris and Julie Ramsey)The couple, both former Aberdeen oil and gas industry workers, set off for their all-electric Pole to Pole expedition in March, for a journey that could have proved as much a test for their marriage as their specifically modified Nissan Ariya e-4ORCE.

Instead, the route through temperatures ranging from -30⁰C to 30⁰C, has turned out to be a life-affirming experience, packed with hope that their marathon road trip might be a catalyst for change, and undeniable proof to doubters once and for all that an electric car can, indeed, cope with extreme climates and long distances.

While at the heart of their gruelling road trip has been a gritty determination to highlight the climate crisis challenge and the role electric cars and small changes can play in reducing our carbon footprint.

The Herald: Chris and Julie Ramsey set off from 1823 Magnetic North Pole in MarchChris and Julie Ramsey set off from 1823 Magnetic North Pole in March (Image: Chris and Julie Ramsey)

Speaking from outside Linares, almost 200 miles south of Santiago, Julie, 44, said: “I have experienced every motion so far – it’s been bloody hard at times.

“We don’t have a ton of people with us, it’s just Chris and me and sometimes the tension in the car can get a bit much.

“If we can survive pole to pole and still married at the end of it, we might have to become marriage counsellors.”

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The couple have spent almost every minute of every day together - potentially challenging for even the closest couple.

While one trigger point can be over who takes the wheel of their distinctive looking SUV, dubbed ‘Sonrisa’, meaning ‘smile’ in Spanish, in recognition of the reaction it receives from people they meet.

If we can survive pole to pole and still married at the end of it, we might have to become marriage counsellors.

 “Chris thinks he is the better driver. He thinks I drive too fast, I don’t take care, I’m not capable,” she laughs.

“He does most of the driving especially in places like Mexico City, Lima and Bogota where there are no rules when it comes to driving.”

Chris, meanwhile, stresses certain road conditions require a particular style of cautious driving to maximise the vehicle’s range. Normally the SUV would hit almost 320 miles between charges, but modifications to their vehicle has pegged it to between 150-180 miles.

“Julie doesn’t have the patience when we’re on one of those drives where you have to get maximum range, she gets bored,” he says.


The Herald: The couple passed through Nicaragua on their way southThe couple passed through Nicaragua on their way south (Image: Chris and Julie Ramsey)

“The one big argument we tend to have is over who drives. When are confident of the range we’re going to get, Julie is let loose and shoots off driving like Colin McRae.

“A big challenge is driving the car and making sure it survives,” he adds, explaining the car has had a few knocks and bumps on the way. “It’s lawless on some roads in South Africa, there might be three lanes for traffic but there are six lanes of cars.”

Any flare ups tend to be snubbed out within minutes, he stresses, which is important when they are sharing a car on the road for around 13 hours a day and sometimes sleeping in a tent on its roof.

“Sometimes the colour of the air in the car is blue, but then it’s done,” he adds.

The trip saw the couple leave from 1823 Magnetic North Pole in temperatures of -38, becoming the first people in history to take an EV to the frozen spot. As they travelled over miles of frozen landscape, they used a wind turbine to help provide power for their car.


The Herald: The couple's Nissan Ariya e-4ORCE, called Sonrisa, tackled Arctic frozen landscapeThe couple's Nissan Ariya e-4ORCE, called Sonrisa, tackled Arctic frozen landscape (Image: Chris and Julie Ramsey Plug In Adventure)

Their route then took them over frozen lakes, past wild caribou and south towards Edmonton on Canada’s west coast before traversing the Rockies and onwards to the USA border and Seattle.

They then continued down the west coast, through California, Las Vegas and Los Angeles before heading cross country towards Texas and the Mexican border.

Sometimes the colour of the air in the car is blue, but then it’s done.

From there, the journey became more fraught as the couple encountered warnings over roads controlled by drug cartels, tough border controls and regular police checks.

“You hear about the drug cartels and a lot sounds negative, but we didn’t see that,” says Julie.

“The most apprehensive time was when we were stopped by the Ecuadorian army. We weren’t sure not sure if it was official - their uniforms looked official, but the car didn’t. We don’t speak Spanish, it was at night and they wanted us to get out of the car and we were quite reluctant.

“It turned out they were doing routine weapons checks on random cars. By the end of it we were taking selfies with them.”

Some of their Instagram posts have recorded the physical toll the journey has taken, with sleepless nights, humidity and baking heat as the mercury hit 45⁰C in California, interspersed with jaw-dropping scenery.

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While the distinctive car with its pumped-up tyres designed to cope with the extreme polar landscape, has captured attention along the route, providing the couple with the chance to spread their EV message in places where electric cars are a rarity.

The Herald: The Nissan Ariya e-4ORCE has been modified to tackle extreme terrainThe Nissan Ariya e-4ORCE has been modified to tackle extreme terrain (Image: Plug In Adventure Chris and Julie Ramsey)

While partnerships established during pre-planning had seen a network of charging points installed across the South American countries; a lasting legacy of their journey, it meant they have rarely had to find an emergency charge point.  

There have been times, however, when they have had to make do with an unconventional power up.

“It’s not all been perfect with beautiful public charging points,” adds Julie. “One of our weirdest was when we were running short of charge and the only place that could help was a petrol station that had a domestic charge point, but the plug was in a public toilet.

“We had to run the cable out of the window to the car, with us inside the car trying to sleep – not that nice.”

She adds: “We’ve been on the road for six and half months and there has been a lot of stress and wondering why are we doing this.

“But we want to dispel myths.

“And while it’s been tough, that’s the adventure - it’s not supposed to be easy.”

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The couple already have some experience of hitting the road: in 2017, they become the first team to complete the Mongol Rally in an electric vehicle, travelling over 10,000 miles through 20 countries in 56 days driving from Goodwood Racing Circuit to Siberia.

They are expected to arrive in Antarctica in December, where they will trial solar panels backed by a petrol generator to power their vehicle – tests that may be adopted by scientists based there.

Chris thinks their arrival will be particularly poignant.

The Herald: The couple will cover 17,000 miles travelling pole to poleThe couple will cover 17,000 miles travelling pole to pole (Image: Chris and Julie Ramsey, Plug In Adventures)

“Antarctica will be a surreal moment,” he says. “We have to fly to get there, and when we step of the plane, I know my mind will be blown.

“I think it will be a solemn moment; there’ll be the realisation that this is the final push, that it’s been six years of building up to this point.

“But we’ll have a huge sense of pride too, that this whole thing was put together by just us.

“This is the last major expedition, it’s never been done overland before, it’s something new,” he adds.

“Everything we’ve seen has opened our eyes - and it’s been such a lovely experience.”

To follow their journey, go to