A century later, Citroen plans another Sahara crossing – with electric vehicles

2022 model year EVs will accompany half-tracks in historic route rerun

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Citroen will celebrate the centennial of the first drive across the Sahara by another one, but this time sending production electric vehicles along with two re-created half-tracks | Citroen photos

In mid-December of 1922, Citroen had what it called “the audacity” to attempt to drive motorized vehicles across the Sahara. The drive south across the African desert to Timbuktu (English spelling of the historic stop on the medieval trading route) covered nearly 1,970 miles and 21 days.

On February 5 during the Retromobile collector car celebration in Paris, Citroen announced that it would send not only two replicas of the five original half-track vehicles, a Golden Scarab and Silver Crescent, on a centennial re-creation of the trip, but that also making the drive would be a fleet of standard-production electric vehicles.

Student-built re-creation of Golden Scarab is on display in Citroen stand at Retromobile 2020 in Paris

The “E.Pic” drive is planned for December 19, 2022, to January 7, 2023, and the support vehicles will be from the 2022 model year production range. Citroen also promised that present at the starting line will be a new futuristic concept car.

A reproduction of the Golden Scarab is on display at the Citroen stand at Retromobile 2020. The vehicle was built by students and teachers from French arts and crafts schools as part of the Citroen centennial celebration in 2019.

The Citroen convoy crosses the Sahara in 1922

Each of the five Citroen half-track vehicles had a nickname for the original journey: Golden Scarab (Scarabee d’Or), Silver Crescent (Croissant d’Argent), Flying Turtle (Tortue Volante), Sacred Cow (Boeuf Apis) and Crawling Caterpillar (Chenille Rampante). 

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The original plan for the 1922 adventure was to leave the vehicles in Africa, but the trip went so well that the teams decided to drive the vehicles back to the Mediterranean coast.

1922 map from the Citroen archives

A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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