A team of engineers in the UK led by Ben Scott-Geddes had supercar backgrounds, Scott-Geddes having worked on the McLaren F1, BMW LMS racer, Caparo T1, and Ferrari SF90, his crew bearing similar go-fast résumés. Instead of making what they knew, however, they made a left turn and headed for the literal hills about 18 months ago. The mission for their new company, Fering, is "to develop a vehicle that could traverse the globe with a lighter impact." Scott-Geddes was especially interested in a vehicle that could cross an unsupported 4,000-kilometer section of the Arctic through Canada and Russia. The result is the Fering Pioneer, a range-extended electric off-roader packed with novelties.
The least unusual aspect is the powertrain, centered around a twin bank of lithium titanium oxide batteries with a combined 20-kWh capacity. The battery chemistry isn't as efficient as lithium-ion, but it's better at holding a charge in extreme heat and cold, and more resistant to fire, impacts, and punctures. The small unit is good for about 50 miles of pure electric driving, but it's kept charged by an 800-cc diesel range-extender engine taken from a Smart. That combo powers two electric motors, one on each axle, that put out a combined 443 pound-feet of torque. Top speed is about 80 miles per hour.
The aluminum tube chassis contains welded, bolted, and bonded joints supplemented by composites for strength. The Pioneer stands at 189 inches long, 79 inches wide, and 77 inches tall; that's one inch shorter, a couple inches wider, and six inches taller than a Ford Transit Connect. The modular frame design means the door frames are identical front to rear and side to side, yet again improving ease of repair.
The compact stance makes the 22.5-inch wheels appear gargantuan, Fering choosing that size because it's a standard for heavy trucks around the world, easily replaceable from Borneo to Bolivia. Those rims hang off 2:1 geared hubs that multiply torque and help create a whopping 31.5 inches of ground clearance. The chassis has been draped in a rugged, durable fabric akin to what's used in hiking boots; it won't dent, and it's easy to repair and replace.
The package is claimed to weigh 3,307 pounds dry, and is capable of carrying its weight again as payload. Fering says the Pioneer will climb a 60% grade and a 19.7-inch step, traverse a 50-degree slope, and ford 55 inches of water. Created to get to and come back from the most remote environments, the real USP is when the Pioneer's fitted with an extended-range fuel tank. Figured to get an average of 50 miles per gallon, the big tank enables a 7,000-kilometer range, or 4,350 miles.
The company targets entering production next year, the plan to produce 150 to 200 Pioneers per annum, and Fering's already taken its first deposit for a rig to work in the Amazon. Starting price will be about £150,000 ($206,700 U.S.), but that can balloon to the size of any budget, Fering promising almost endless customization and upgrade possibilities.