Toyota South Africa handed over its latest specially adapted Toyota Hilux to the SA National Antarctic Programme (SANAP).
The bakkie will serve as a high-mobility personnel transporter and light duty workhorse on the South African Antarctica base (SANAE IV).
SANAP's study of the environment, from geology to upper air research, is invaluable in our understanding of our planet's fragile ecology.
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.
Henry Valentine, Director of the Antarctica and Islands division of the Department of Environmental Affairs said: "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.