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Celebrating the production of its one-millionth Land Rover Discovery, a Land Rover team treks a 50-day, 8,000 mile expedition from Birmingham to Beijing. A £1 million (GBP) fundraiser is also held to benefit the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, a Global Humanitarian Partner of Land Rover.
Just last week, Land Rover reported on its visit to Chernobyl. This week, the convoy makes a stop at an old Soviet submarine base. Serving as a reminder of Soviet’s Cold War past, the former Black Sea submarine base was one of the Soviet Union’s most protected top-secret nuclear bases during the era.
Carved out from the base of a mountain in the port town of Balaklava on Ukraine’s Crimean coast, the 15,300 sq. ft. facility took 9 years to build. At its peak, the base served as the operation home of the fearsome Soviet Black Sea Fleet, which was signed off by Joseph Stalin in 1953. To protect its assets, the entrance to the mountain base is camouflaged from any spy plane. If targeted, the base is reinforced to sustain a direct nuclear impact, sheltering a max capacity of 3,000 people, providing each with supplies to last for a month.
Now, team Land Rover has been invited to drive through its hidden tunnels and visit its history. Check out team Land Rover’s video of their visit below.
The quintessential go-anywhere, do-anything, vehicle, Land Rover is celebrating the production of its one-millionth Land Rover Discovery. In light of the landmark achievement, Land Rover is holding a 50-day expedition and £1 million (GBP) fundraiser to benefit the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, a Global Humanitarian Partner of Land Rover.
Displaying the versatility and capability of Land Rover vehicles, a team set out on a 50 day, 8,000 mile, intercontinental journey from Solihull, Birmingham to Beijing China. In total, the route of the Discovery expedition will hit the following countries: UK, France, Switzerland, Italy, Hungary, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan before ending in China.
Well on their way, a recent update from the Land Rover team documents their journey through Chernobyl, Ukraine, a city that truly tests just how go-anywhere, do-anything, a Land Rover vehicle really is. Ever since the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant suffered a nuclear fallout back in April 1986, the region has since been deserted. Until now, nobody in private vehicles were ever allowed to breach the 30 kilometer exclusion zone surrounding the epicenter of the accident.
Valeriy Zabayaka was a former plant worker and one of the thousands of ‘liquidators’ tasked with clearing the radioactive disaster zone. Now the guide for the Discovery team, Zabayaka explained that before the tragedy, living standards at the Pripyat City of Chernobyl were significantly better than that of the average Soviet city. Facilities and amenities were abundant as shops were well stocked with western goods. Wages were over double the national average. Unfortunately, the loss of reactor 4 changed everything and now Chernobyl is nothing more than an empty shell of its former self.
The Discovery team’s final stop was next to the reactor itself, now under a cover of concrete, steel, lead, and metal sheeting. According to Zabayaka, the city has already been waiting for more than a decade for plans of a better, more permanent, sarcophagus to contain the plant and its tragic history. Unfortunately, legislation has only been extending its deadline.
GALLERY: Land Rover Discovery — Birmingham To Beijing
Land Rover is celebrating the completion of its millionth Discovery SUV today by launching a trip that will see the vehicle travel from its birthplace near Birmingham, U.K., to Beijing.
“This gruelling expedition will be visiting 13 countries and covering 8,000 miles, and it’s a fitting initiative to celebrate the one millionth vehicle,” said Phil Popham, group sales operations director for Jaguar Land Rover (JLR).
The journey will cover 8,000 miles and 13 countries in 50 days, following the path originally mapped for “The First Overland Expedition” in 1955, though that trip ended up diverting to Singapore. Unexpected changes seem less likely this time, given the day-and-night difference between automotive technology in cars today.
Nonetheless, there is an uncertain component aside from unpredictable road conditions: JLR aims to raise £1,000,000 for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ water and sanitation project in Uganda as a part of the trip. That goal represents the most ambitious fundraising target for the company to date.
Travelling on the stated path will not only raise money for charity, but it will also take the team of four drivers through some of the company’s major markets. Visit http://www.ammado.com/community/125893 to make a donation to the campaign.
Popham wasn’t shy about making the trip sound devastatingly difficult, though it’s tough to sympathise with people who get paid to take a globally-publicized road trip in a posh luxury SUV. The send-off wasn’t bad either: Such memorable figures as Bear Grylls of the TV show Man Versus Wild, Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Polar explorer Ben Saunders attended the event among others.
While it’s probably a stretch to call a drive that breaks down to 160 miles per day anything other than leisurely, there’s definitely no harm in a long trip meant to raise money for charity — provided the money is made and there are plenty of snacks.
It’s probably worth mentioning that with four drivers that figure breaks down further to 40 miles per driver, per day. Our own editor-in-chief, Colum Wood, drives approximately the same distance in his daily commute to the AutoGuide office… each way. High ho Land Rover Discovery.