ROLLE, Switzerland – The 2014 edition of the World Advanced Vehicle Expedition (WAVE) ends this weekend in Europe. This one-of-a-kind rally is the largest 100% electric vehicle rally in the world, pulling in electric car enthusiasts from many countries. WAVE began May 31 in Stuttgart and then headed around Switzerland to this weekend's conclusion in Lucerne on June 8.
WAVE consists of four events with no more than 27 cars in each – the "exclusive WAVE" for exclusive vehicles, the "popular WAVE" for serial models, the "light WAVE" for vehicles under 900 kg and the "e-bike WAVE" for electric bikes and scooters.
As with each year, vehicles from the Renault-Nissan Alliance are well represented: The Renault Zoe, Fluence, Twizy and the Nissan LEAF are all making appearances. Participants drive from Stuttgart, Germany to Lucerne, Switzerland, while competing along the way in categories such as best acceleration, fastest lap in a closed circuit and most innovative – all pursuit of the WAVE trophy for each event.
One of the faces spectators may see this year is Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield, well-known enthusiast and advocate for electric vehicles and green technology. Gordon-Bloomfield has worked as a freelance journalist for various EV-focused shows and publications. She is also the founder and current editor-in-chief of Transport Evolved, a multimedia news site comprising podcasts, live shows, car reviews and more, covering the very latest in green transport.
The Alliance had the opportunity to speak with Gordon-Bloomfield about WAVE. To be more precise, she is not a competitor. Rather, Transport Evolved is one of WAVE's official media partners, so Gordon-Bloomfield will be travelling on the road with her friend and colleague Adam Walker, slightly ahead of the main contingent. What's great about WAVE, according to her, is how it educates and evangelizes to the public, bringing greater awareness of the necessity for green mobility and innovation while pushing the boundaries of EV technology. Indeed, the founder of WAVE, Louis Palmer, was the first person ever to circumnavigate the world in a solar-powered vehicle.
Still, the event is challenging; it is not a holiday for the faint-hearted. Teams must be able to find adequate charging stations throughout the entire route in order to successfully complete the rally. Rules state that the only electricity replacement allowed is "muscle power," and then only for those with e-bikes.
When asked, Gordon-Bloomfield admitted that, just like the other participants, her unfamiliarity with the charging infrastructure in continental Europe is her greatest worry. On this trip, Transport Evolved will be using her personal car, a 2011 Nissan LEAF that has about 50,000 miles on the odometer – one of the oldest cars participating in WAVE 2014. The age of the car means that its range is slightly less than newer variants. Meanwhile, it is equipped with a CHAdeMO quick charge port – a type of quick charging method that can charge the Nissan LEAF's battery to 80% capacity in half an hour or less. Although Europe now has over 1,000 CHAdeMO quick chargers, there are only a few of such chargers along the route. To complicate matters, WAVE overlaps with a number of public holidays, when charging stations may not be open.
Despite these challenges, Gordon-Bloomfield remains optimistic and enthusiastic for the rally. Just a few weeks ago, she and Walker did a weekend road test through the Welsh valleys in preparation for the coming drive through the Swiss mountains, learning that "with a little bit of forward planning and perseverance, electric car adventures aren't such the big taboo we once thought they were."
Previous WAVE rallies are certainly proof of that. And for this running of the event, the Alliance wishes the Transport Evolved team and other participants all the best.
For more news from the Renault-Nissan Alliance, visit blog.alliance-renault-nissan.com.
# # #