Electric cars, bikes, lorries and even a plane will be crossing the Channel in July as part of the first London to Paris Electric Vehicle Rally.
The event aims to showcase recent progress in eco-friendly technology and prove that ‘range anxiety’ is no longer a major concern.
It follows two successful London to Brighton rallies in 2020 and 2022.
Some 80 teams have already signed up, and organisers hope to have 150 electric vehicles.
Event billed as zero carbon
Following a launch party in London on July 1, participants will travel to Brighton where they will show off their vehicles to the public and enjoy food and live music, before taking the overnight ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe.
The rally will continue down to Paris, where prizes will be awarded to the most efficient travellers.
The event is billed as zero carbon: organisers will ask the ferry operator to offset emissions from the crossing.
“The ferry is subsidised by Région Normandie, and emits 45,000 tonnes of carbon per year. In this day and age, it’s not good enough,” said Graham Precey, who is helping to organise the event.
“The race is a signal that long-distance travel is possible with electric cars, but it’s also a signal for Normandy that things need to change.”
More charging points needed in Normandy
While the region is active in nuclear and hydrogen production, as well as wind turbines, the rally will highlight the investment needed in electric car-charging points.
“Charging infrastructure on the UK side is good,” Mr Precey insisted, adding that the same could not be said for Normandy.
“As you get closer to Paris, there is some good charging infrastructure, but when we did a test run, the team took two hours driving around Paris to find somewhere to plug in.”
The entire route is 322km
“Roughly 25% of cars you can buy from standard manufacturers these days can do that with no problems,” said Mr Precey, “but it depends on the temperature and the weather.”
There are currently no Channel ferry services offering EV charging during the crossing, but event organisers have come up with a solution: one of its sponsors will provide electric cars with large batteries capable of charging the whole fleet if necessary, removing the stress of finding a charging station.
The new hybrid model of the Alpine sports car, manufactured in Dieppe, will lead the second part of the rally, but organisers have requested that only its electric engine is used.
Read more: Top sales for Alpine sports car in France
“We are in a world where we need to shift away from anything that is crude oil-based,” Mr Precey said.
The rally will also boast “the first electric passenger flight between France and the UK.”
French residents can just do the French leg
There is still time to sign up, although places are limited by the ferry capacity.
Those who live in France have the option to do just the French leg.
The entrance fee includes a return trip on the ferry, breakfast in Dieppe, and a Normandy hamper delivered during a stop in Gournay-en-Bray (Seine-Maritime).
Visit the website for further information.
Future years could see the rally extend to other parts of France – or other European capitals, Mr Precey said.
“We’re hoping it will be the first of many.”