Four years ago, Rafael de Mestre became the first EV driver to solo circumnavigate the globe in his Tesla Roadster. He’s just done it again, this time with company, once again showing that EVs are entirely suitable for long distance travel. After challenging EV drivers to join him in an around-the-world road rally, they departed in June and finished in 80 days as planned, under the Arc de Triomf in Barcelona. The rally included eleven teams from nine countries, including eight Tesla Model S, one Tesla Roadster, one DENZA (a joint brand from Daimler and BYD), and an electric bus from Hungarian firm Modulo.
The journey was catalogued on their YouTube channel with local coverage in various languages, a Bing map shows the route of all 11 teams, and the charge points used have been added into the database at electromaps.com.
The first “race” started in February 2012, when a French team of two drivers started a drive around the world on their own in a Citroen C-Zero. Upon hearing of this trip in March, Rafael de Mestre hastily planned an around-the-world trip of his own and set off to turn the event into a race. He left in May, and despite this three month disadvantage and severe setbacks along the way, including visa troubles and a crash just 600 miles before the finish line, the higher range and charging speed of his Tesla Roadster was enough to allow him to catch up and pass the Citroen and complete the trip in much shorter time, finishing in September.
Despite the 2016 edition coming with much more planning, the teams were bound to run into troubles with nearly 180,000 combined miles of driving between them, many of which were on rough roads in rural Asia. One team broke down in Kazakhstan, one had a collision in China, and one encountered a blackout in Ukraine. The sole Roadster, designed and built in a time before EVs had DC quick charging inlets and thus limited to charging at 17kW maximum, had its work cut out for it, but still managed to catch up with other teams and finish the rally in time despite customs and maintenance delays.
Planning has already started on a 2020 edition of the rally, with three teams expressing interest. The 2020 rally will include an “autopilot” category for cars which will drive at least 80% of the route with Autopilot engaged.
To keep up to date with news on the next race, or if you are interested in participating as a driver or sponsor, you can sign up here.