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Monster Hyundai Santa Fe becomes first passenger auto to conquer Antarctica
20 April 2017, 09:35 | Jan Cross
Hyundai teamed up with tech entrepreneur Patrick Bergel, the great-grandson of Shackleton, and supplied him with the Santa Fe in which to complete the journey.
Yet, earlier this year (kept secret until successful) he has become the first person to take a passenger auto right cross the Antarctic - in a Hyundai Santa Fe with added balloon tyres and a big fuel tank. During the trek, temperatures plummeted to as low as -28 degrees Celsius and the team had to courageous snowstorms as well as perilous terrain. "But it is quite something to have been the first to do this in a wheeled vehicle".
Ernest Shackleton was the Antarctic's first motorist, taking a 12/15 Arrol-Johnston on his unsuccessful Nimrod Expedition to the South Pole in 1907. Sometimes it felt less like driving and more like sailing across the snow.
"What we did though was one-thousandth as hard as what they did. But it was an wonderful journey, and an unbelievable achievement".
The 30-day crossing was done in December 2016, and it was timed to commemorate the centennial of the Trans-Antarctic expedition of his great-grandfather and his team. The fuel tank capacity also had to be increased with it also needing to be converted to take Jet A-1 fuel, the only fuel available on the continent, and a pre-heater needed to be installed.
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On completing the mission, Jónsson said: "People who have a lot of experience of Antarctica know what it does to machinery: basically, anything and everything falls apart". Otherwise, the Hyundai ran with the standard gearbox, front differential, engine and driveshaft.
"We were running on one-tenth of a normal road tyre pressure - it's so soft you can drive over someone's hand and it won't hurt them!"
"This was the first time this full traverse has ever been attempted, let alone doing it there and back".
The accomplishment will probably trigger adventurous instincts in other explorers, and other companies might be interested in beating Hyundai's time at this Trans-Antarctic crossing by auto.
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