DEADHORSE, Alaska — A driving team backed in part by Hankook Tire America Corp. has completed the first leg of an attempted cross-country tour in an electric Volkswagen ID.4 outfitted with Hankook iON AS evo or iON i*cept winter SUV tires.
Rainer Zietlow — a German long distance driver who holds multiple Guinness World Records — began the trip March 23 in Homer, Alaska, the state's southernmost road network point.
On April 4, Zietlow and his Challenge4 team, which includes photographer Derek Collins, arrived in Deadhorse at the end of the Dalton Highway on Alaska's north coast. The journey is the first time that an electric vehicle (EV) has reached the northernmost point of the U.S.Highway System by overland driving in spring with temperatures around -10 degrees, Hankook said.
Zietlow and Collins plan to travel 8,500 miles total in the Volkswagen. For the second and final portion of the tour, the team will drive 7,500 miles back to Key West, Fla., using only existing power sources, available charging infrastructure and no additional vehicle support.
As part of the trek, the Challenge4 team will make various stops at Hankook Tire locations, including its U.S. tire plant in Clarksville, Tenn. The team is projected to reach its final destination May 6.
"Having tires that can go the distance and perform across challenging terrain and minus Fahrenheit temperatures is a must-have for such an undertaking, especially when a trip like this introduces interesting variables around EV battery range at cold temperatures and available charging stations," Zietlow said.
"This places an enormous responsibility on the vehicle's tires to maximize the available battery range of the ID.4, and the Hankook iON tires have been essential in making sure we arrive at our next check-in point with confidence."
The project can be followed through pictures, videos and a live tracker at vwid4-alaskatour.com.
In 2021, Zietlow and the Challenge4 team set the Guinness World Records title for the longest journey by electric vehicle (non-solar) in a single country on their "Volkswagen ID.4: Great Roadshow through the U.S." tour. The tour, also done in an ID.4 with Hankook EV tires, took them on 35,000-mile drive across all 48 contiguous U.S. states.
"It's exciting to be back on the road with Rainer and the Challenge4 team following our previous world-breaking drive in 2021," Hankook Tire America President Rob Williams said.
"This latest journey is an excellent example of what our iON tires are capable of, along with our overall vision of supporting the growing EV industry with quality products that can go the distance."
Hankook's iON product line is developed using Hankook's Evolution technology, which focuses on noise reduction, all-season performance and enhanced rolling resistance.
The iON tire's compound formula, made of high-concentration silica and eco-friendly materials, is designed to spread road pressure evenly to extend tire and battery life. Hankook said iON tire products are built with its EV Contour technology to increase lateral rigidity and cornering stability along with 3D Kontrol sipes at the tire's main treads to improve multi-seasonal performance and compensate for higher weights.
Hankook Tire is one of nine corporate sponsors for the tour.