850 Miles In A Tesla Roadster In A Weekend: Crossing The Line

Yesterday, we told you about the remarkable 850-mile electric-car road trip planned by David Peilow and Kevin Sharpe, who intended to drive from the tip to the tail of the United Kingdom.

Their goal was to test out the new electric-car charging network that the team created in conjunction with Tesla Motors.

After 24 hours and six recharge stops, the pair rolled into Land's End at 8:40 pm.  We caught up with David for a quick chat.

"It's gone well: The schedule was spot on, the time taken to charge the car and the travel have gone to plan," he told us. "We've been driving into heavy prevailing winds and rain, with a fully loaded car, but even with the heat on we've not experienced any range issues."

In fact, he said, it was only the huge interest the pair's journey received--with requests for interviews and photo ops all along the route--had added to the journey time.

Start at John O'Groats

The drive allowed the pair to test how an electric car with a relatively long range, like the Tesla Roadster, can make long-distance journeys.

It's true that the journey would have been simpler if the pair had taken a regular gasoline car, though it seems that the gap has closed a great deal.

In total, the Tesla Roadster required just over 10 hours of charging to cover a 900-mile route. However, if we subtract the time that would have been spent eating and sleeping anyhow, Peilow and Sharpe spent just 2 extra hours versus using a gasoline car.

Thus, with the network of chargers the pair installed in the U.K., a more traditional drive from London to Edinburgh could be dispatched in the same time as a traditional car, assuming the driver takes a lunch break for a charge and a spot of fine dining.

It also shows how far the charging network in the UK has come already. Such publicly accessible networks offer medium speed (220-Volt) charging for the Tesla Roadster. For shorter-range vehicles like the Nissan Leaf, Nissan itself is steadily building out a network of fast chargers at its own dealers.

Only recently the BBC floundered, taking four days to travel from London to Edinburgh in a Mini E, a stunt later debunked by Peilow. (It's far from the BBC's only electric-car-skeptic broadcast.) But with an open charging network and a production car like the Leaf or the Tesla, a similar journey could be dispatched in time for dinner.

"With a network of about 40 fast chargers installed at the proper locations," Peilow added, "the U.K. could be blanketed with a charging network that would eliminate any argument about the viability of an electric car like the Leaf with a 100-mile range."

Already, the trip has solidified the plans of Q Hotels, which contacted the team en route to let them know that the chain will expand its network of charging stations to its hotel in Kent to create a new link in what David terms "The Trunk Network" that ends at the Channel Tunnel.

Via the Eurostar train that connects London to Brussels, Antwerp, and Paris, those cities become one more link in the network of places reachable by electric car.

Peilow is also looking for sites in South Wales to extend electric-car range to the fantastic roads of the Brecon Beacons and on via Pembrook Dock to Ireland. Irish ferry companies are already discussing an offer of charging to help this happen.

And, as all this happens, Kevin and the ZeroCarbonWorld.org charity will be rolling out medium-speed charging points throughout the UK.

{image courtesy of Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield}

The same trip in a Porsche 911 Turbo (at roughly the same cost as a Tesla Roadster) would cost more $300 in gasoline alone at U.K. pump prices. The electricity for the Tesla cost about $30.

Better yet, that electricity came free of charge, from public charging points offered by local businesses in exchange for the promise that you might stay a while.

Try getting free gasoline from your local hotelier!

If you're looking to build a charging network, or you're a hotel chain looking to enhance your amenties, you can catch up with David Peilow, Kevin Sharpe and ZeroCarbonWorld.org to learn more about their grand plan.

Michael Thwaite is an electric-vehicle advocate who lives in New Jersey and works in information technology. He also runs the Tesla Motors Club. When he was 12 years old, he hoped that when he grew up, we'd all be driving electric cars. More than 30 years later, they're finally here.

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