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'Kick Gas' Movie: Driving Across U.S. In Electric Car & Motorcycles


Scenes from 'Ride the Future' electric-vehicle tour across the U.S., Summer 2013, in 'Kick Gas' film

Scenes from 'Ride the Future' electric-vehicle tour across the U.S., Summer 2013, in 'Kick Gas' film

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Last summer, I rode my 2012 Zero S electric motorcycle across the United States as part of the "Ride the Future" Tour.

Scenes from 'Ride the Future' electric-vehicle tour across the U.S., Summer 2013, in 'Kick Gas' film

Scenes from 'Ride the Future' electric-vehicle tour across the U.S., Summer 2013, in 'Kick Gas' film

Enlarge Photo

Now, as a record of that journey, a documentary we made--called Kick Gas--is being released today, on Earth Day 2014.

Our little caravan of electric vehicles traveled 4,000 miles in 44 days, comprised of a Nissan Leaf electric car, my Zero S electric motorcycle, a Xenon electric scooter, and an A2B Alva electric bicycle.  

DON'T MISS: 'Ride The Future' Cross-Country Electric Road Trip Ends At Google HQ

The goals of the trip were to set Guinness World Records for longest trip in an electric car, motorcycle, scooter, and bicycle--and also to spread the word about electric vehicles. We traveled from Charleston, South Carolina, to Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California.

What follows is the real backstage account of a groundbreaking electric-vehicle parade across the entire country.

Scenes from 'Ride the Future' electric-vehicle tour across the U.S., Summer 2013, in 'Kick Gas' film

Scenes from 'Ride the Future' electric-vehicle tour across the U.S., Summer 2013, in 'Kick Gas' film

Enlarge Photo

All about the batteries

Charging the vehicles was always a fundamental concern, and we had two different flavors of vehicle on the tour. The batteries for the Nissan Leaf and Zero S are built into the vehicles; both can be charged using 240-Volt Level 2 charging stations. The bicycle and scooters have removable batteries that can be charged at any outlet.  

We traveled about 100 miles each day--sometimes more, sometimes less--which means the Leaf and Zero S would often need to charge halfway through the day. East of the Mississippi, we found charging stations without much trouble, so there was little concern as we traveled through South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee.  

Once we crossed the Mighty Mississippi, however, we found we had to get creative with charging. Fortunately we carried adapters that proved very helpful. 

Aerovironment gave us a charging cord to test that let us charge every night using the 240-Volt air-conditioner outlet at our motels, and during the day using 50-Amp connections at RV parks. 

Scenes from 'Ride the Future' electric-vehicle tour across the U.S., Summer 2013, in 'Kick Gas' film

Scenes from 'Ride the Future' electric-vehicle tour across the U.S., Summer 2013, in 'Kick Gas' film

Enlarge Photo

Throughout the Midwest, the Nissan Leaf would charge at RV parks, while I could charge the Zero motorcycle in the back of restaurants as we ate, using a 120-Volt outlet.  

The most fun way to charge was bringing my motorcycle into my hotel room! Perhaps one time in four, the person at the front desk would suggest that I bring my motorcycle into my room to charge since they did not know about any external outlets. And with no gasoline or oil, the electric motorcycle wasn't a safety hazard inside the room either.

(It's worth noting we always got permission to plug in, wherever we went.)

The bicycle and scooters would each go through four to eight batteries a day, and we had four chargers that took about 3 hours apiece for a full charge.  Initially, a couple of the scooter riders had to wake up twice each night to get enough batteries ready for the next day--but eventually we settled into a schedule that let us charge in the evening before going to bed.  

Scenes from 'Ride the Future' electric-vehicle tour across the U.S., Summer 2013, in 'Kick Gas' film

Scenes from 'Ride the Future' electric-vehicle tour across the U.S., Summer 2013, in 'Kick Gas' film

Enlarge Photo

Meeting the people

Taking a road trip on a two-wheeled vehicle is incredible, in part because you see and experience the country in a unique way.  But while it was awesome to see the Grand Canyon--and Las Vegas, Terrapin Brewery, Big Bear, the Pacific Coastal Highway, Newport Beach and a host of other places--it was the people we met who gave our journey the most meaning.  

We met electric-car drivers in towns and cities across the country, all of them supportive, who shared their stories of encouraging their towns to use more electric vehicles. We met Angel Delgadillo, who helped resurrect Route 66. 

We met the good folks at Serve Moore who lent us a wheelbarrow to help clean up the tornado-ravaged town of Moore, Oklahoma. And we met hundreds of people who had never seen an electric vehicle before--and we gave them a look at what the future holds.  


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