Monday, November 18, 2013

2013, the year long distance electric vehicle travel started to become common-place

This year, 2013, is turning into a watershed year for long distance electric motorcycle and car trips.  As I write this Terry Hershner is taking another of his long distance electric motorcycle trips, and while he's not going to beat the record he was aiming for, it's still quite an accomplishment that he's even doing it.  It would be helpful to review the years other trips, so let's go.

Almost a year ago, Terry Hershner set off on a trip from Florida to Los Angeles with his Zero S, aiming to attend a motorcycle show at which Zero Motorcycles unveiled their 2013 product line.  This actually happened in 2012 but it positioned Terry for the rest of the trips he took this year.

In June 2013 two trips took place simultaneously.  In one, Team Moto Electra (Brian Richardson, Thad Wolff, and crew) left Jacksonville Florida on a trip to Santa Monica.  They completed it in 3 1/2 days, and had the support of a van full of parts and supplies, hauling a generator on a trailer.  In the other,  Terry Hershner set out from California attempting to reach Jacksonville Florida before Moto Electra left.  Unfortunately a SNAFU prevented him doing so, and they didn't manage to meet each other on the road.

In June 2013 another trip started with two Zero FX riders traveling from Shanghai China to Milan Italy, along with a support crew. Their trip is chronicled on .. Originally it was to take 35 days, but it took 45 instead. Some numbers: 12379 Kilometers in 44 days, 350 hours riding, 297 batteries recharged, 12 countries.

The next major US event was the BC2BC rally, in which several electric cars were driven from the British Columbia border south to the Baja California border.

Terry Hershner wanted to participate in that rally.  But, he had a problem.  His previous trip had positioned him in Florida.  So, of course, he first rode his electric motorcycle from Florida to the British Columbia border to meet the BC2BC rally at their starting line.  He arrived at the last minute, worn out from the long trip and, so I heard it, with an empty battery pack.  But he still placed very well in the BC2BC rally, which he actually found very relaxing compared to his other trips.

The BC2BC rally consisted of three Tesla Model S's, one Tesla Roadster, one Zero S electric motorcycle, a Gen2 Toyota RAV4 EV, two Nissan Leaf's, and a Mitsubishi i-MiEV.  A Model S won, of course, because they're designed for road trips.  However, Terry Hershner came in 2nd place with his Zero S.

Shortly after the BC2BC rally another cross country electric vehicle rally made it to California.  This group of people had set out from North Carolina for a 45 day trek across the country.  The vehicles included an electric bicycle, two or three electric scooters, an electric motorcycle, a Nissan Leaf, and a support van.  The length of the trip, 45 days, was because of the electric bicycle.  Terry Hershner joined up with them in Los Angeles, riding with them to their finish line on the Google Campus in Mountain View.  The electric motorcycle that completed the whole journey was a Zero S ridden by Ben Rich.

In mid-July, Terry Hershner set off on another trip, attempting to reach the Columbus Ohio area for Craig Vetter's fuel economy challenge at the vintage motorcycles event at the Mid-Ohio race track.  However, a SNAFU while traveling through the mountains of Colorado cut that trip short.  He repaired the bike, but had already missed the fuel economy challenge, and instead returned to California via the scenic route, swinging into Arizona to see the Grand Canyon.

Finally, in November 2013 after a few months of work to refine his bike setup, Terry Hershner set off from San Diego to Florida attempting to beat the time set up Team Moto Electra back in June.  Unfortunately yet another SNAFU, this time in Austin Texas, meant he wasn't able to beat their time.  However, he should be able to beat the time he had last summer and still hold the record for fastest unassisted cross country electric motorcycle trip.

As Tesla Model S's become more commonplace, and as the Tesla Supercharger network is built out, long distance electric vehicle trips should become commonplace.  The phase we're in right now is similar to early airplane experiments, where dashing young aviators bravely took to the sky taking ever-longer flights trying to prove that airplanes could handle long distance travel.  Nowadays it's completely routine to take a long distance airplane flight, but 80+ years ago that wasn't the case.  Today's electric vehicle pioneers are proving to the rest of us that long distance electric travel is possible.

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