Electric Americas Foundation Is Filming A Documentary Driving The Pan-American Highway In 2 Tesla EVs

Electric Americas Foundation is filming a documentary as they take on the Pan-American Highway in two Tesla electric vehicles.

Founders of the Electric Americas Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, are driving across the Americas from Alaska to Patagonia using Tesla electric vehicles while also filming a documentary about their drive. The trip is a long one covering 20,000 miles in seven months, ending in December 2022 if all goes according to plan. Since we published an initial article about this road trip, I spoke with Martin Canabal, the founder who had already begun the trip.

The team consists of Martin, his wife and newborn, and Tuti Iraola and Oliver Umpierre. As they travel through 12 countries, they will work with local governments, organizations, and schools to raise awareness about climate change while promoting sustainability initiatives, all while providing that it’s possible today to travel without using fossil fuels.

Martin told me that they will create a docu-series highlighting individuals and organizations dedicated to sustainable told initiatives and promoting a better and longer future for our planet. He told me that they will meet up with fellow athletes along the journey, and feature ideas that inspire as they experience the beautiful and diverse landscapes of each country they visit.

Electric Americas Is Driving The Pan-American Highway In 2 Teslas

Photo courtesy of Electric Americas.

The team will be driving the Pan-American Highway, which is the world’s longest motorable road. The highway starts in Alaska and ends in Patagonia, which is located in both Chile and Argentina.

Patagonia is considered by many to be the “end of the world,” due to Chile being the southernmost country in the world.

“We’re driving from Alaska to Patagonia using electric cars”. We have two Teslas — one Model X and one Model 3. And we want to prove that we can drive the Pan-American Highway using electric cars.”

The Pan-American Highway has been driven by many vehicles, ranging from passenger cars to bicycles, Martin told me, but never with an electric vehicle.

“If we can do the Pan-American Highway with an EV, there is no excuse for the average person not to use electric cars.”

Their final destination, he told me, will be Ushuaia, which is the southernmost city before Antarctica. Martin told me that the team expects the trip to be a minimum of seven months. He explained that the average range is 250 miles and that in certain conditions they can drive 250 miles if need be. They’ve done this before.

The Documentary

Photo courtesy of Electric Americas.

The documentary is a docu-series that features extreme sports and sustainable initiatives along the Pan-American Highway. The docu-series will help to prove that accelerating the transition to a sustainable future is not only possible but necessary to avoid climate change and the catastrophes that occur as a result. The mission is to highlight the power, need, and importance of sustainable initiatives to achieve this goal.

The documentary will feature organizations that are delivering solutions for a sustainable future. In each of the countries the team travels through, pro-athletes will join as protagonists to share the works of these organizations. Included will be stories that inspire and highlight the successful achievements of environmental heroes across the Americas.

The message of the documentary aligns with what Tesla CEO Elon Musk is often saying:

“As long as we push hard and are not complacent, the future is going to be great.”

This is in response to climate change and solving it. Elon Musk is often saying that if we keep working at it, we will solve climate change. The documentary will complement Tesla and its mission nicely.

Martin told me that he and the team plan to interview a variety of people throughout the journey, from political representatives to athletes. “We’re interviewing government officials about what they are doing. Sustainable energy is along our route from here to Argentina and we’re learning a lot. We’ve only spent two weeks on the trip and it has been amazing. Amazing people and amazing initiatives.”

Challenges With Charging, Especially In Alaska

While Martin and I were on the phone, they had literally just made it to Whitehorse, Canada. They started their journey in Anchorage, Alaska, a week ago. The weather, he told me, was super nice and amazing, with cold nights and beautiful days. We chatted about the weather and mosquitoes for a moment and then he shared some of the challenges with me.

One challenge was finding a place to charge an EV. Although they were able to find outlets to charge at in RV parks, the topic of Superchargers and Alaska came up. Tesla is rapidly expanding its Supercharger network at an incredible pace and has reshaped the EV charging landscape drastically — which is a great thing. However, Alaska still needs some love from Tesla.

Earl of @28DelaysLater recently relocated to Alaska and he’s been asking Elon Musk and Tesla to install more Superchargers there. Earl is not alone in this request. Martin told me of the challenges and how he solved them.

“We planned the first part of the trip in Alaska and Canada, but there’s not a lot of Tesla chargers or even Level 2 chargers. In Yukon, there are some Level 2, but they have a different plug. We have the adaptors, but not here. They are in San Francisco right now.

“The amazing thing about this place is that even if we don’t have EV chargers, there’s a lot of RV parks, so we plan to charge at RV parks.”

The first problem the team faced, he told me, was that one of the parks they planned to charge at was closed. It never opened for the season.

“We had to solve a problem, but I’m an engineer, so I like to do that! We searched a little bit and all the RV parks had 30 amp plugs, so we basically created an adapter to use that. It’s basically 30 amp to 50 amp, but switching some of the wirings and it worked. It took a little longer, but we were able to charge and go on with our route.”

The Difference Between This Trip And Chris Ramsey’s Upcoming Trip

Electric Americas

Photo courtesy of Electric Americas.

I recently wrote about Chris Ramsey’s upcoming trip in a Nissan Ariya E-4ORCE. Ramsey will be driving along the same highway as Martin, and his team and Martin pointed out that the difference between these two trips wasn’t just the EVs. Martin’s team didn’t specially prepare their Teslas for the trip. They are EVs that an average consumer can buy and drive. Martin wanted to do this trip with cars that anyone can buy and just drive. He also shared a lot of enthusiasm and support for Chris Ramsey, and I think both teams will help debunk a lot of misinformation against EVs.

The Convenience Of Tesla Superchargers

Electric Americas

Photo courtesy of Electric Americas.

Although Tesla would do well to install more Superchargers in the more remote areas, such as Alaska, this doesn’t take too much away from the convenience and ease of charging. In fact, Tesla’s expansion of its network has made charging easier and better continuously, especially now compared with 2020.

“When you have Tesla Superchargers, I think it’s quite easy. It’s even better than gas cars. Normally, if you do long road trip drives, you have to stop just to rest. I think it’s safe to do that. So, using the Superchargers is quite convenient. You charge, rest or eat, and sometimes, you wish it would take longer charging because you haven’t finished your food yet and have to move your car.

“I think it’s super convenient, but I think the trip we’re doing now is not for everyone and we did prepare and plan. We have a lot of adapters and it’s not for everyone. But every year is getting better.

“We planned this trip for 2020 but we couldn’t do it because of Covid. And now we replanned everything and we can find a lot of other chargers that weren’t available then. So, in two years, even with Covid, the charging situation is much better — not in this area we are at now, but we were already planning to charge here using RV parks if I had the adapters for CCS or CHAdeMO. I could be charging here in Whitehorse. There’s a company in the Yukon government that are installing a lot of Level 3 chargers in many places and along many routes. I think next year would be even more convenient.”

One thing Martin and his team are doing is educating others about charging EVs when they reach an RV park. He told me that at every RV park they’ve charged at so far, people were worried about how much energy it would take to charge a Tesla.

“We tell everyone how much energy it actually takes. It’s not that much. We can charge for $11-$15 in energy — full charge. But they are always worried about that, and of course, I understand their point of view.

“The second thing I tell them at RV parks is if you already have 50 amps or 30 amps, installing an EV charger is basically just a machine and it’s $1,000, and every day there are more and more EVs on the road. So, I think they should install EV chargers and people will just come to charge and they will spend money at the RV parks. It’s good money for the RV parks to add that into their services. If they do that, people will not be afraid of taking road trips in EVs and we’ll have more chargers in. I think, five years it will be normal to take road trips all around America in EVs.”

He added that road tripping in an EV is more affordable than doing it in a traditional gas vehicle. Something else Martin wanted to share with me is that during his week in Anchorage, all the EV chargers he charged at were free to use. With gas, they would have easily spent hundreds of dollars.

“I think that was awesome.”

Offsetting Carbon Footprint

Photo courtesy of Electric Americas.

Martin pointed out that in many places, energy isn’t 100% renewable, and this includes Alaska. One of the criticisms about EVs is that they are charged using coal- or gas-generated electricity, and this is absolutely true in many parts of the world. Martin and the team are tracking how much energy they use charging and are planning to offset that. One critical way of offsetting this is the fact that EVs do not produce greenhouse gases.

“We’re calculating everything so we can offset with carbon credits. We know in most places — for example, in Alaska — most of the energy is not renewable.”

I plan to keep in contact with Martin throughout the trip, so stay tuned for a few follow-ups throughout the journey.

If you would like to donate or contribute to the trip, you can do so here. You can also follow along their journey here. You can also watch the documentary trailer here.


 


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