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Edmonton businessman plans to lead first Canadian driving expedition to South Pole

Edmonton businessman Darryl Weflen hopes to make history by leading the first Canadian hybrid-vehicle expedition to the South Pole.

'We're taking it to the remotest, harshest climate on the planet'

Airworks president Darryl Weflen will lead a four-member crew to the South Pole in order to test the hybrid drive system. 1:05

Edmonton businessman Darryl Weflen hopes to make history by leading the first Canadian hybrid-vehicle expedition to the South Pole.

The four-man crew led by Weflen, who is the president of Airworks, plans to head out in November 2018 on a journey being dubbed Xpedition 90X.

If successful, it will be the first Canadian-led driving expedition across Antarctica to the pole.  

His massive truck, called Rockhopper, will be equipped with Weflen's patented G-Force green technology, which he eventually plans to market to the military and commercial trucking industry in 2019.

"We're trying to reduce the carbon footprint of this type of vehicle for future explorers, or for future commercial operations, with the overall end goal that it will reduce fuel," said Weflen.
The customized 2008 International MXT 'Rockhopper' to be used for first Canadian hybrid-vehicle expedition to the South Pole.

'Remotest, harshest climate on the planet'

The 2,400-kilometre return journey could take from 20 to 30 days to complete, at a maximum speed of about 18 km/h.

The truck will be shipped from Vancouver to Chile in a sea can. From there it will be loaded into a plane and flown to the Union Glacier Camp, where the crew will hop in.  

Weflen said he spent more than a year developing the hybrid drive-train system. The green technology is intended to reduce engine strain and cut emissions by up to 20 percent.    
The G-Force hybrid-drive system that will help power the truck.

"We're taking it to the remotest, harshest climate on the planet," Weflen said. 

"We're looking to see what's the best way to prove the G-Force technology, as well as have an adventure. So it's going to be a good test for us, as well as the machine."

​Joining him in the truck will his brother, Greg Weflen, who's in charge of collecting data and any mechanical repairs; Jerry Fuentes, an ex-Marine helicopter pilot who will take care of navigation and communications; and Daryl Black, who will be responsible for safety and crisis management. 

"We're not going for the four of  us," Weflen said. "We're here to highlight some phenomenal technology that I have supreme confidence in. Otherwise, I wouldn't be going."

Google Street View 

People all over the world will be able to follow the group's progress on the internet.

In Antarctica, the foursome expects to encounter challenging terrain, crevasses and temperatures that could dip below -50 C. 

In April, they will go to the Columbia Icefields for crevasse training. 

"Part of the challenge here is we can't make hard and fast rules, so everything we're going to be dealing with we're going to take it as it comes," said Black.

The crew will follow a route set up by Antarctic Logistics & Exploration, a company based in Utah.
The truck has been modified to deal with Antarctica's extreme terrain and conditions.

Xpedition90X plans to work with Google's street view technology to make the first attempt to map that route to the South Pole.

The $1.3-million expedition is being funded mainly by Airworks, along with a long list of sponsors. 

The group will travel 12 to 14 hours per day, and sleep outside the vehicle in tents. 

"We're going to be in close quarters for an extended period of time," Weflen said. "We're not just out there to go hard and race to the South Pole. We're out there to explore and have fun and prove the G-Force."