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The 1964 Volkswagen bus was rebuilt with an electric motor – Photo: Insider
On May 4, Jack Smith and his close friend Mike Adamski departed from San Francisco for a trip across the US to New York, on a 1964 Volkswagen bus, which was converted to use an electric motor.
Adamski (left) and Smith on the first day of their trip across the US with electric cars – Photo: Insider
The journey from San Francisco to New York is nearly 9,700km long – Photo: Insider
Smith, 65 years old, told Insider that he was inspired after watching a documentary about the first cross-country trip in American history. It’s a movie about Dr. Horation Nelson Jackson, who bet $50 in 1903 (equivalent to more than $3,300 today) to prove that cars were not a temporary vehicle that could be used to get around the world. country.
In the end, Jackson and his companion completed the trip from San Francisco to New York City in just over 63 days.
At that time, in the US, there were only about 240km of paved roads, and less than 8,000 cars were on the road.
In 1903, Dr. Horatio Nelson Jackson and his companion Sewall K. Crocker became the first people to drive a car across the United States. Today, Smith and Amdaski repeat the journey of their predecessors, but the old road has become Lincoln Highway and Interstate 80 – Photo: Insider
“They’ve had a great adventure, I want to follow in their footsteps. But don’t want to do it in a regular car. What’s the fun in that,” Smith told Insider.
Choose a car
Smith chose the car dubbed the “rusty bus” – Volkswagen of 1964 – borrowed from EV West. He planned the trip about six months in advance, from finding a place to sleep to mapping electric vehicle charging stations along the way.
In fact, Smith originally planned to opt for a more modern electric car, like the Tesla, but the “rusty bus” has its own appeal.
“Everybody noticed this old Volkswagen bus. People smiled at us, even signaled to wish us a safe road. We put the car in the motorhome parking lot, next to the extreme cars. expensive period. People used to gather around this rusty bus,” Smith said.
Even reality TV stars American Pickers Robbie Wolfe is also interested in his journey.
Smith should have chosen a modern electric car… – Photo: Insider
…but find the “rusty car” more interesting – Photo: Insider
This journey is not the first time he has driven an electric car. He used to use the Nissan Leaf for several years. Therefore, he is quite confident with traveling by electric car.
However, not without worries.
“At first, we were quite apprehensive. Departing with a full battery pack but watching the battery decrease was really worrying. There was a time when I thought I would give up soon. But going far is always without challenges. Just tried a little bit more, and then we got used to the car,” Smith recounts.
Smith drives a VW bus in California – Photo: Insider
On average, he drives about 240-320km per day. After that, the car was charged all night in the motorhome parking lot while Smith and Adamski fell asleep in the tent installed next door.
Smith said he feels comfortable letting the car go about 258km per charge, and has never let the battery drop below 12%.
Of course, it is not always possible to do exactly what was planned before the trip. Therefore, every night before going to bed, the two re-locate the charging stations and attractions.
There are days when charging stations cannot be found, they are forced to charge during the day in different motorhome parking lots.
They always pay attention to the battery level to charge in time. They also often sleep in tents while the electric cars are charged at the motorhome parking lot – Photo: Insider
It can be seen that, unlike other electric vehicle users, they almost do not experience too much discomfort with charging problems.
But the two ran into other problems. Unlike most modern cars, the “rusty bus” has no air conditioning, and is quite bumpy. In Northern California, the cold hit Smith and Adamski’s hands. “For about a week, we wore long underwear, outerwear and gloves when we drove,” Smith recalls.
Without air conditioning, they have to rely on long clothes and warm blankets – Photo: Insider
There was also a time when the car warned “Get out of the car! The car is on fire!!!”. Smith and his friends jumped out of the car immediately and expected to witness the car burn. In the end, it turned out to be just a warning from the system that it needed a rest shutdown.
When he arrived in New York and returned, Adamski stayed, and Smith’s companion this time was Larry Newsland. From left to right: Newland, Smith and Adamski in New York – Photo: Insider
Summing up, Smith said the trip was a joyful experience: “Every day, we never know what will come. Every day is a new adventure, where, what to eat, who to meet. If we had taken a regular car, those things would never have happened.”
Range anxiety is a major barrier to electric vehicle adoption. In June, a reporter from The Wall Street Journal said she struggled to find a charging station during her four-day road trip.
But Smith, with a journey of 43 days, is optimistic: “I’m afraid of the horror stories people tell. Obviously they are not prepared enough or don’t understand how to find a charging station. It’s as simple as looking for a charging station. Just search on Google.”
Smith said that people are confused with electric cars only because they are not used to using a new type of engine – Photo: Insider
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