Audi Centre Melbourne

Apr 6, 2011

With Audi from North Pole to South Pole

It is his greatest adventure to date and probably one of the greatest worldwide. Today, Johan Ernst Nilson starts out on his Pole2Pole expedition. Within the space of 12 months he intends to travel from the North Pole to the South Pole, using carbon-neutral transportation all the way, powered only by nature – and himself. In order to decide which equipment was the best possible choice he was able to rely on Audi technology and know-how for assistance: Nilson tested his equipment under extreme conditions in the Audi Wind Tunnel and Cold Chamber in Ingolstadt. Moreover, Audi engineers were part of the team that developed his super-lightweight sled.


Lightweight technology is one of the many areas in which Audi is truly trailblazing. Ultra-lightweight materials significantly reduce the weight of a car and thus its fuel consumption. The same technology was brought to bear in developing the innovative sled that will be accompanying Johan Ernst Nilson on the last and presumably toughest leg of his expedition – crossing Antarctica. The Swedish adventurer will use the sled to transport his equipment.

Only if the sled has an absolutely precise construction will it withstand such extreme conditions. In order to glide at maximum speed across the ice and snow it has to be exceptionally light. And it will endure even the toughest conditions thanks to the special carbon-fiber structure, which is both very hardwearing and functional. Friction must likewise be reduced to be a minimum in order to move forward swiftly across the rough ice. "We sought to develop a sled on which Johan Ernst Nilson can rely during his entire trip across the Antarctic. To this end, we have exclusively used high-tech materials," says Wolfgang Egger, Head of Design for the Audi Group.

Thorough preparations for such a risky journey can make the difference between life and death. In order to ensure that his equipment withstands the ice, snow and high wind speeds, Johan Ernst Nilson tested his clothing, tent and sleeping bag in the Audi Cold Chamber and in the Audi Wind Tunnel. Both of these facilities simulate Arctic conditions, as normally they are utilized to test that Audi vehicles are duly winter-proof. "In a single day spent at Audi I gained many insights that will be extremely valuable to me for my journey across the Antarctic," commented Nilson.

The Swedish adventurer will likewise be assisted by Audi on his journey through North, Central and South America, which he will complete by bicycle: As the expedition support car, an Audi Q5 will transport a camera team and journalists who monitor Nilson's progress. The expedition will take an entire year. The carbon footprint of those parts of the trip that are impossible without engine power will be offset elsewhere to ensure that the expedition as a whole is carbon-neutral.

What links Audi and Johan Ernst Nilson is the shared strong spirit of pioneering and environmental responsibility. The Ingolstadt-based carmaker's objective is to take the most innovative approach time and again. Lightweight design, TDI diesel engines and quattro all-wheel drive are the best-known examples. Audi is also committed well beyond the world of cars; for example, it is a member of the DESERTEC initiative that is exploring concepts with which to generate electricity in the North African deserts and transmit it to European conurbations. Moreover, in 2009 Audi established its own environmental foundation, which has the goal of protecting the natural habitat of people, animals and plants. The foundation thus funds measures and research activities that encourage the development of environmentally compatible non-automotive technologies, promote environmental education and contribute to a sustainable human/environment system. Johan Ernst Nilson also champions the environment. During the expedition's leg through the United States, the Swedish adventurer plans to visit various charity organizations, where he will give lectures and thus attempt to kindle more interest in environmental issues.

Nilson has already undertaken expeditions in over 100 countries, always under extreme conditions. The coming expedition will be his greatest to date. Visit the webpage of the Audi 2010 Annual Report to accompany Johan Ernst Nilson on his trip from Pole to Pole and to find out more about the project and the preparatory work carried out jointly with Audi: www.audi.com/ar2010/pole2pole.


The stages of the Pole2Pole expedition:

1. From the North Pole to the northernmost tip of Greenland (on skis)
2. From the northernmost tip of Greenland to Thule Airbase (with a dogsled)
3. From Thule Airbase to Ottawa (by sailing boat)
4. From Ottawa to Patagonia (by bicycle)
5. From Patagonia to the Antarctic (by sailing boat)
6. Across the Antarctic (by kite-sledding)

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