Charge Around The Globe

How Lexie Alford and new Ford Explorer are circumnavigating the globe on electric power.

Lexie Alford (@LexieLimitless), the youngest person to visit every country in the world is on an extraordinary Charge Around The Globe in our new electric Ford Explorer.
She left from Le Hotel Royal in Nice, France, which is the same place Aloha Wanderwell started from when she became the first woman to drive around the world a century ago, also in a Ford. From there, Lexie will be taking in six continents and over 30 countries in what should be an epic journey over the coming months. Together, this trip will aim to prove just what’s possible in an electric vehicle. For Lexie, it is also an opportunity to set the record of becoming the first person to circumnavigate the globe in an electric vehicle.

You can see below just what this adventure means to her.

“This is an epic adventure, but a tough one. It will be tough on the Explorer and with the amount of time on the road alone it will be tough on me and the support crew. Any adventure worth having should challenge you though, and I can’t wait to explore the new places and meet incredible people to find out how they’re trying to make their corners of the world better.”
Lexie Alford

By the end, Lexie and the electric Ford Explorer should have covered almost twenty-nine thousand kilometres, with RecordSetter confirming that she's the first person to circumnavigate the globe in an electric vehicle

The epic trip begins in Nice, France, from the same place Aloha Wanderwell set off from 100 years ago

It then heads south into Italy and across Greece and Turkey before finishing in Tblisi, Georgia

The African leg begins in Cape Town, South Africa before heading north

After the first gravel roads of the trip, Lexie and the Explorer will end in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare

The third continent of the trip starts off in Adelaide, Australia

Then heads up the coast to Sydney

Past Byron Bay before finishing in Cairns

To help further prepare for this once-in-a-lifetime roadtrip Lexie had a behind-the-scenes look into the Explorer and how we developed it.

She visited our design and product development teams in Cologne, Germany...

...experienced extremes of temperature at the Environmental Test Center – or ‘weather factory’...

...and completed her advanced driver training certification at the Lommel Proving Ground in Belgium.

Ready for anything, it was time to hit the road.


Europe certainly didn’t disappoint with Lexie discovering some impressive gelato in Milan, Italy, witnessing stunning sunsets in Slovenia and exploring Zagreb in Croatia. It hasn’t all been so glamorous though. In Serbia she encountered impromptu situations, like having to charge the Explorer from a 9.7kw lamppost charger. She also had a different test of her comfort zone when social media challenged her to find a local to compete in a dance-off with… which she just about succeeded at.

Item 1 of 3

After passing through Greece to Athens, Lexie then faced a double ferry crossing across the Aegean Sea to reach Turkey where the first of the bad weather hit. Steep roads and heavy rain, followed by dense nighttime fog meant a testing journey to the destination that evening. Equally challenging though was a six-hour delay at the border the next day as Lexie and her team crossed into Georgia. That was the last stop in Europe.


Things started out well in Cape Town with Lexie stopping at Muizenberg Beach where she met Apish and Loveday from Waves For Change. She was able to take part in a surfing lesson to understand how they’re using surfing to provide child-friendly mental health services for under-resourced communities, and meet some of those benefitting from the inspirational scheme. She followed that by experiencing some quintessential South African braai – food cooked over an open grill – in Masiphumelele.

Heading north-east from Cape Town towards Kroonstad long tailbacks from roadworks kept progress slow. A charging station was also caught in an electricity blackout while the Explorer was plugged in. Fortunately, a wallbox at Lexie’s accommodation for the night managed to keep things topped up.

Plenty of challenging roads ahead

The journey onwards towards Johannesburg saw plenty of challenging roads, although the impressive potholes were offset by even more impressive scenery. Once in South Africa’s most populous city, a familiar sight greeted her; a Yellow Jacket from RecordSetter. At various spots they check the Explorer’s GPS transponder as well as the odometer to corroborate the mileage on digital records.

This helps to validate Lexie’s attempt to be the first person to circumnavigate the globe in an electric vehicle. They also use the data to plot a map of the Explorer’s travels. If you want to see the epic journey’s progress, you can track it here.

Item 1 of 3

The final part of the South African adventure was a visit to the Black Mambas, a unit of highly-trained female rangers who patrol 20,000 acres of the Balule Nature Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park, with the one aim of stopping poaching. Their important work has seen a 63 per cent reduction in poaching incidents in the area since their formation in 2013, and these tough women do it without being armed.


The journey from Hoedspruit in South Africa to the Beitbridge border crossing saw overcast and rainy conditions but the Explorer coped perfectly, covering the 437 kilometres distance with just one precautionary top-up charge. The following day Lexie crossed the Limpopo River from Beitbridge, on the South African side, to a town of the same name on the Zimbabwe side, before heading on to Masvingo via a mix of motorway and gravel roads.

Near Masvingo is Great Zimbabwe, an ancient city built in the 9th century and thought to have once been the capital of a great kingdom. The ruins are now a national monument, and modern Zimbabwe’s namesake, so it was the perfect place to stop for Lexie to appreciate some of the region’s deep history.

The African leg of Lexie’s attempt to circumnavigate the globe in an electric vehicle finished 327 kilometres north in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare. Here Lexie had the chance to meet the inspirational Venensia Mukarati who, together with her daughter Tino operates 160 Hydro Farm,. Hydroponics allows crops to grow without soil, uses up to 90 per cent less water and doesn’t suffer from weeds, pests or disease, plus plants grow more quickly than in soil; all important elements in a country that has been hit by drought before.

Venensia’s company now grows its own produce to supply the local area, and also encourages others to get into hydroponics with special kits for home. Lexie was put to work in one of the greenhouses to see how it worked, and naturally couldn’t leave before tasting some of the produce for herself.

View from the road by a Ford engineer

Throughout the African leg, Ford launch engineer for the Explorer, Daniel Kottner, was on hand to ensure safe running. Below you can read his thoughts on this leg.


“The weather was about as warm as you would expect in a European summer (a maximum of around 30 degrees Celsius) and the car handled that very well. Range was pretty good too, especially as the car was driven like a normal customer would, so there was no hypermiling and we were travelling at the speed limit of 120 kph for most of the time. Also, many comfort systems were running like air-conditioning, heated seats, heated steering wheel and infotainment with Apple CarPlay.”

Road Conditions

“Only two tyres were damaged over the entire trip, most likely on the same stretch of gravel road to our hotel in Kroonstad. Both were rears, and we were lucky to have enough spares with us. The car has 20-inch wheels with low profile tyres, so it is quite impressive how well it handled the offroad driving during the safari, as well as the gravel road detours in Zimbabwe. Everything else on the car was fine. No electrical faults were reported. Funnily enough, our support cars in Zimbabwe had more faults; we fixed the air-conditioning on a pick up where the connector was disconnected from the blower switch, the tail lamps on a truck as it had the wrong bulbs fitted and blew a fuse, and the truck for our luggage whose starter motor solenoid stuck and wouldn’t start after a short stop for filming.”


“Charging went well for the most part, however South Africa and Zimbabwe both do load shedding, during which parts of the grid will be deactivated. South Africa announces these power cuts in advance, Zimbabwe does them randomly.

During one charging stop at the end of the day in Beaufort West, the power was cut. After the power came back on, the charging station was broken, most likely due to the sudden loss of power. We had to charge at the hotel using our mobile wall box connected to a household outlet.

We learned from this though and after that we always waited until after load shedding was done for future charging stops.  Charging at the game lodge in the middle of nowhere was also done using the mobile wall box, however even then there was a fast charger only 20 minutes and less than 20 kilometres away.

Charging in Zimbabwe was only done using the mobile wall box at 1.5-2.5 KW, depending on the fuse for the household outlet. This worked very well, although it took a lot of time. Everywhere, hotel staff was very accommodating and supportive, so charging the car at hotels was easy to do as well."

"I personally enjoyed both travelling the country as well as working with the team. Due to the car running that well I think I had the easiest job there by far.”
Daniel Kottner, Ford Explorer launch engineer

Leg three: OCEANIA

The journey started in Adelaide, Australia, with the vast size of the country making itself apparent from the off as she faced a six-and-a-half-hour drive to Warrnambool, the overnight coastal stopover on her way to Melbourne.

The following day allowed for the scenic Great Ocean Road to be experienced before arriving in Victoria’s capital, where the Explorer pulled up outside the Big Esso all-day bar and kitchen.

The restaurant is run by chef Nornie Bero and puts indigenous Australian food and native ingredients to the forefront of the menu. Lexie used her adventurous nature to do a bit more exploring, this time of the different flavours on offer, as she and Nornie shared a meal and Lexie heard more about the ethos behind the tastes.

After Melbourne the Explorer was pointed northeast towards Sydney with another stopover in the city of Albury. Around one hour outside of Sydney, the stunning Sea Cliff Bridge was crossed – a 450 metres long bridge, named by an 11-year old primary school student, that opened in 2005 and has become something of a tourist attraction – with panoramic views of the waters Lexie would soon be on.

As October is a time of year when humpback and southern right whales migrate along this coast back towards the Southern Ocean from the Pacific, Lexie called in on Sydney-based marine biologist Dr Vanessa Pirotta. Dr V (as she likes to be called) invited Lexie out to see her innovative way of collecting whale ‘snot’ using drones that hover above the water as the whales come up for air. As the whales blow out the snot these drones use flip-lid petri dishes to capture it, which can then be analysed to check the whale health and contribute to helping their conservation. And the whales don’t even know it’s happened.

On her last morning in Sydney, Lexie headed to the famous Bondi Beach to find out from beachgoers their favourite things about Australia, their favourite foods and even some local slang terms. No shrimps were put onto barbies. Then it was back in the Ford Explorer to make her way towards Byron Bay, with very little drama aside from a flat tyre on the way to the overnight stop at Port Macquarie.

At Byron Bay, Paul, one of the Yellow Jackets from RecordSetter met Lexie at the Cape Byron Lighthouse, which sits on the most eastern point of the Australian mainland. After checking the car and verifying mileage it was time to add more kilometres to the journey in her bid to be the first person to circumnavigate the globe in an electric vehicle.

And Australia certainly added those. With the next few days driving to Noosa Heads, then Gladstone, Mackay, Airlie Beach, Townsville and finally Cairns, Lexie had travelled well over 4,000 kilometres through the country by the time she was watching the sun set on her Australian adventure.

View from the road by a Ford Engineer

For Australia, Dirk Vornweg, a Ford Fit for Test engineer accompanied Lexie and shares a personal highlight below.

“One morning when we arrived at a charging station we noticed that the mobile phone network was completely disrupted, which put us at a loss. The charging process is started via a mobile phone app which meant we were unable to charge the Explorer. We drove through the town hoping to find some phone reception but with no joy.

We ended up driving back to the charging station and heading into a small neighbouring café where we told the owner about our problem. Without hesitation she offered us her WiFi network to set up a personal hotspot and even gave us her mobile phone to start the charging process at the station. We were amazed at such helpfulness and friendliness, but that would prove to be just one of the many nice encounters and conversations we had with the Australian people. They were all very open-minded and helpful, plus they all seemed very fond of our Explorer.”