Driving the Santa Fe across the Antarctic

It’s been billed as a ‘first’ in Antarctic exploration, and a first for Hyundai Motor.

The great-grandson of legendary Antarctic explorer, Ernest Shackleton, achieved the first ever crossing of the Antarctic in a passenger car. Patrick Bergel drove a slightly-modified 2.2-litre diesel Hyundai Santa Fe from Union Camp to McMurdo and back again, completing the journey in 30 days, a journey that Shackleton began over 100 years ago.

In December, 2016, Bergel and small team drove almost 5,800 km on icy terrain to cover extreme distances at temperatures as low as minus 28-degrees Celsius. The team was tasked with devising new paths on floating ice caps that have never been travelled by wheeled vehicle before.

“I’m not a polar explorer; I’m an indoor guy,” says Bergel, a technology entrepreneur. “So it was a big cultural shift – and it was quite something to have been the first to do this. Getting to the South Pole was a special moment. The fact that this was a place my great grandfather tried to get to more than once and I was there, it felt like a genuine connection.

“What we did though was one thousandth as hard as what they did. You know, no comparison – modern appurtenances, comparative luxury. But it was an amazing journey, and an amazing achievement.”

The expedition was inspired by Shackleton’s heroic Trans-Antarctic journey of 1914-17 when, having been beaten to the Pole by Roald Amundsen, he tried to become the first to cross the continent. His ship sank in pack ice, but the heroic explorer and five men sailed 800 miles over open, stormy sea to South Georgia, from where a successful rescue could be launched.

Scott Noh, Head of Overseas Marketing Group, Hyundai Motor Company said: “We were aware of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s story and, as a Company, felt a resonance with his courage and pioneering spirit. Our film celebrates this spirit and through Patrick, his Great Grandson, completes his dream to cross Antarctica – just a hundred years later.”

Bergel added: “Some sections were unbelievably beautiful and only a few dozen people actually get to see the Trans-Antarctic Mountains. That was the point at which nobody in a wheeled vehicle had been beyond. My great-grandfather was the first to climb Erebus and I’d seen pictures of it as a child. It is quite spectacular, with plumes of smoke coming out, and it was pretty special to be driving and see it come out of the cloud.”

Hyundai Motor created a short film of the Expedition. It can be viewed here: