Future of the Environment

Meet the man who drove from the Netherlands to Australia without visiting a gas station

A electric charging port is seen attached to a 2018 Karma Revero, a plug-in hybrid vehicle, at the Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, February 13, 2019.   REUTERS/Mark Blinch - RC1D50C1B5A0

Charged up ... it took Wiebe Wakker three years to drive across 31 countries in an electric car. Image: REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Emma Charlton
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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How far could you drive without gas? That’s the question answered by a 32-year-old Dutchman who drove from his home nation to Australia in an electric car.

“For almost two years I have been living an unbelievable and crazy dream,” says Wiebe Wakker. “In 687 days, I saw 31 countries and drove 60,000 km without visiting a gas station.”

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Wakker left the Netherlands in his car, Blue Bandit, with no money, relying instead on people he met for food, shelter and electricity for his car. His quest - Plug Me In - captured the imagination of people around the world and has become a prominent platform for sustainability and electric cars.

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“I believe everyone can contribute to a more sustainable world,” says Wakker. “I try to do my part by showing the possibilities of sustainable mobility.”

Policy-makers around the world are pushing for the widespread adoption of electric vehicles, amid concerns about climate change and the health effects of air pollution. It’s a theme explored by the World Economic Forum’s Electric Vehicles for Smarter Cities report, which looks at the environmental and economic benefits and recommends some policy options.

 Plug Me In

Electric buses

“The focus should be on electrifying the vehicles with the highest use rates, such as public transport or mobility-as-a-service fleets,” the report says. “This approach also helps to avoid the main barriers to adoption by individual customers - concerns about vehicle range and charging - and long vehicle-replacement cycles.”

Wakker’s quest may also help to address some of the barriers to EV ownership by showcasing the advantages and capabilities of the technology.

Even as electric cars become more affordable, the Forum’s report says concerns about battery life and the availability of chargers are still widespread.

Image: World Economic Forum’s Electric Vehicles for Smarter Cities report
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Wakker’s project has gone beyond promoting electric vehicles. He’s attended talks and been invited to see and promote other renewable energy projects, as well as uniting the people who supported him and generating a buzz online. Many were captivated by his adventure, which included attending open air cinema screenings and a champagne and caviar workshop.

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“The feeling I had this day was insane,” he said after finishing. “I want to thank everyone who came down and made it a success.”

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Related topics:
Future of the EnvironmentSustainable DevelopmentEnergy Transition
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