Battery Power, Coast to Coast: Geoffrey Kinsey’s Electric Journey

Geoff and “Tessie” take a charging break in Stratton, Colorado.

Geoff and “Tessie” take a charging break in Stratton, Colorado.

When it came time to make his big move from California to Boston, Geoffrey Kinsey, CSE’s new Director of Photovoltaic Technologies, did what many of us would do: he packed up his car and set off on a cross-country drive to his new home in Massachusetts. But Geoff’s road trip was a little different from most: he was making the crossing in an all-electric vehicle. Geoff’s beloved car, “Tessie,” is a Tesla Roadster – a car with a pioneering design entirely powered by lithium battery cells.

While electric cars have been around in one form or another since the 1800s, they still struggle to find mainstream acceptance. Hybrid vehicles like the Prius have gained prominence in recent years, but their purely electric counterparts still have a certain stigma as flimsy and impractical, glorified golf carts only suited for short jaunts to the grocery store and back. But Geoff wasn’t heading to the supermarket – he was embarking on “one of the first few continental crossings in an EV!  Possibly the first going west to east.”  And with Tessie at his side, he had every reason to be confident.

While electric vehicles of the past may not have always had the best reputation, make no mistake: Tessie is a serious machine. A bright yellow, sporty two-seater capable of converting her battery power into 270 foot-pounds of torque and 300 horsepower, Tessie can go from 0 to 60 in just 3.9 seconds – numbers that blow away even some of the fastest gasoline-powered cars on the market, including the BMW M3 and Audi S4.

Geoff at the wheel on the way to Las Vegas.

Geoff at the wheel on the way to Las Vegas.

One of the Tesla Roadster’s strengths is its charge flexibility. Where older electric cars were limited by the availability of dedicated car charging stations, the Tesla can draw power from any electrical outlet. On the road, Tessie was recharged at gas stations, RV parks, automotive manufacturing plants, street parking spaces with chargers, car dealerships, friends’ houses, and – if all else failed – the nearest friendly wall socket. Even an ordinary wall outlet can give a Tesla Roadster 70 miles of range overnight – plenty of range to reach the next recharge opportunity.

To help plan those charging breaks – and more importantly, make sure both car and driver don’t get stranded in the middle of nowhere – the Roadster offers an interactive on-board monitoring system that keeps track of charge levels, energy consumption, and range. Tessie was often able to predict her energy consumption down to the nearest mile of range. Armed with this information, Geoff could confidently drive through as many as three or four states in a day, while charging provided a welcome break from driving and a chance to explore some of the vistas he was traveling through.

Geoff took in many sights while he and Tessie crossed the country. He hiked in Zion National Park, visited the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, saw wind farms in Texas, and visited old friends and fellow electric car enthusiasts along the way. At one point, he even became embroiled in a “charging duel” between Tessie and a friend’s Nissan Leaf, another all-electric vehicle. Along the way, he was struck as much by the scenery – ranging from the deserts of Utah to the mountains of Colorado – as the “amazing array of different car chargers” he encountered on the road.

“Tessie” arrives in Boston.

“Tessie” arrives in Boston.

All told, Geoff’s cross-country journey took only seven days of driving and charging. And while Tessie is now comfortably parked outside of Geoff’s new home in Boston, her next adventure can’t be far off. After all, with an electric car like this, it’s easy to be adventurous!

More details and pictures from Geoff’s travels can be found on his Tesla Roadster Drive Across America blog.

About author
I'm a freelance writer, journalist, and former Marketing Associate at Fraunhofer CSE. My work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Knowledge@Wharton, Recessionwire, and Data Informed.
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