Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) have handed over a specially adapted Toyota Hilux to the South African National Antarctic Programme (SANAP) to serve as a high-mobility personnel transporter and light duty workhorse on the South African Antarctica base (SANAE IV).
The special Hilux donated to SANAP and the Department of Environmental Affairs has undergone a so-called Arctic Truck 38 (AT38) conversion and will be transported to SANAE IV on board the SANAP supply ship SA Agulhas.
The Hilux was built as part of an agreement reached with Arctic Trucks and 4x4 Mega World to prepare six locally built Hilux bakkies for duty in Antarctica. These vehicles were built at Toyota’s workshops adjacent to its head office in Sandton by a dedicated team from Arctic Trucks with support from 4x4 Mega World.
“We are extremely proud of the fact that the Hilux with its credentials as a die hard workhorse have been approved for use in Antarctica and on the SANAE IV base,” says Andrew Kirby, Senior Vice President: Sales and Marketing at TSAM.
“SANAP’s study of the environment, from geology to upper air research, is invaluable in our understanding of our planet’s fragile ecology. Toyota’s commitment has always been on minimising our environmental footprint and providing sustainable mobility, something that is clearly visible in our pioneering Hybrid Synergy Drive and Optimal Drive technologies found in our latest models. This donation underlines that commitment.”
Ferdi de Vos, General Manager: Corporate PR at TSAM, added: “We believe the Hilux is a most appropriate vehicle for use on the Antarctic continent. With a South African history spanning 40 years and a work ethic groomed by millions of hard working kilometres, it will offer our scientists a way of traversing the ice landscape with the smallest possible CO2 footprint.”
Says Henry Valentine, Director: Antarctica and Islands division of the Department of Environmental Affairs: “We are delighted with this donation from Toyota South Africa Motors. We have a requirement for an agile and fast personnel carrier to transport research teams to and from our base in Antarctica and the specially adapted Hilux fit the bill perfectly.
“In extreme conditions with temperatures sometimes falling below -45°C a robust and reliable vehicle is of utmost importance and the Hilux has a proven track record in these types of conditions, while using less fuel and emitting less harmful emissions than other track driven vehicles traditionally used in the Antarctic.”
The AT38 Hilux for SANAP last week passed its final shake down test in the searing heat of the dunes close to Lamberts Bay with flying colours. This is very impressive if one considers that the standard engine will now travel from the dry and dusty heat of South Africa to temperatures of -50°C on the Antarctic continent.
At least 11 Hilux bakkies are already in service on the icy continent. It also remains the first and only vehicle to be driven to both of the planet’s magnetic poles, sometimes in conditions that necessitate that the engine remains running for weeks on end, to prevent the fuel from freezing.