Roughly the same time when the Moon Regan Transantarctic Expedition used the highly specialized Bio-Inspired Ice Vehicle for an epic Antarctic crossing, Toyota also sent a fleet of four Hilux pickup trucks to the South Pole, as part of an expedition carried out by the members of the Indian National Center for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR).
Modified by Icelandic 4x4 conversion specialist, Arctic Trucks, the Toyotas completed the month-long round-trip measuring 4,600 km (2,858 miles) with the highest average speed and recorded the lowest average consumption among comparable vehicles.
Operating in temperatures between -40 and -56 Celsius (-40/-68.8 F), the Japanese trucks averaged 4.7 US mpg (50 lt/100 km). This might not seem like an incredible feat, but the stock 3.0-liter diesel engines ran round-the-clock on less energy-efficient Jet 1A fuel and had to power extra heating systems as well.
In the end, the average mpg was 5 to 8 times lower than what tracked vehicles usually achieve, which significantly reduced fuel costs and permitted the team to use just one refueling point. And this is important, given that one barrel of oil can cost as much as US $10,000 in Antarctica.
The expedition’s team members also praised the maximum payload capacity of 1.5 tons and towing capacity of 3 tons, allowing them to carry plenty of equipment and spare parts, alongside the 1,280 liters (338 gallons) of fuel per unit.
Upgrades made to the trucks included the incorporation of a crane (to lift heavy equipment and the fuel barrels), converting the diesel engines to run on jet fuel and fitting them with additional lubrication, heavily modifying the suspension, crawler gears, crevasse protection and the aforementioned extra heating system.
Last but not least, every Hilux ran on extra-large tires, only inflated to just 20 psi for better weight distribution on the perilous sastrugi terrain.
Scroll down to watch the Toyota pickup trucks in a similar expedition that took place last year in the video below.