Channeling Jules Verne, Alan Soule of Sebastopol, California, departed from Barcelona, Spain in his Tesla Model S on a 15,534 mile long journey. It will take him through 20 countries and across three continents before arriving back in Barcelona 80 days later. Soule and his Model S are part of the “80eDays” challenge — an event designed to demonstrating that electric cars can be a sustainable means of transportation. There are 11 other teams participating. In all, drivers from 7 countries are entered in the event.
The route will cross the Alps and the Rockies, traverse the Gobi desert, and visit many of the world’s major cities before ending up back where it started. If all goes as planned, all 12 teams will drive together through the Arco de Triunfo in Barcelona on September 4.
Soule is a 66 year old retired commercial building contractor. He has been planning his journey for more than a year. “I have always been interested in alternative energy for vehicles,” he said. “I had a car that ran on propane back in the ’70s, and then when General Motors came out with the EV1, I leased one of those, and that was in 1999.”
Soule bought a Tesla Roadster when the car was first introduced in 2008 and took it on a trip down Route 66 in 2012. “From all the research that I’ve done, I’m almost positive it’s the first electric vehicle to drive Route 66,” he said. That same year, he bought his Model S.
During his travels, he met a man from Spain by the name of Rafael de Mestre, who was intent on driving his Roadster around the world in 80 days. The two kept in touch. When de Mestre said he would be part of the “80eDay” adventure this year, Soule decided he wanted to join him. They will be accompanied by two Swiss and two German teams and one team each from China, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Austria.
Preparing for the trip has been a full-time job, Soule says. Among other things, he and his fellow drivers have had to obtain visas from China, Kazakhstan, and Russia. They also have to make sure than have all the charging adapters they need for the trip. Charging equipment varies widely from country to country. Over the course of the trip, Soule will have a rotating crew of five co-drivers who are friends and friends of friends. They will meet him and his Model S at various places along the route.
Planning the route also took time quite a bit of time. “I originally wanted to go through Turkey because I like Turkey, but there are problems there,” Soule said. “And I’ve been told that Belarus has a lot of gangs. And the southeastern portion of Ukraine is where the Russians are trying to make a stronghold. But if you go up through Latvia, that’s an extra 600 miles, and we don’t want to do that, so we’re going to take a chance and go through northern Ukraine and see what happens.”
Source: Press Democrat Photo courtesy of Alan Soule