Canada to Mexico Electric Car Rally Changes EV Range Perceptions

By · July 08, 2013

Canadian Tesla Model S

There have been a number of long-distance electric car events held to counter perceptions about range limitations of EVs. The latest was last week's BC2BC-2013 Rally, in which eight electric cars and one electric motorcycle traveled from British Columbia to Baja, California. All but one successfully arrived, although the journey revealed weaknesses in electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

The rally was organized by Tony Williams, an electric vehicle activist and entrepreneur from San Diego. He did a similar trip last year, solo, driving from Baja to British Columbia. That experience led him to organize the event, this time inviting other electric vehicle owners to join him.

Terry Hershner, filling up

The rally started in Blaine Washington where I-5 enters British Columbia, traveling southward through four segments and a large number of checkpoints, ending at the Tijuana border crossing where I-5 enters Mexico. The participants were timed for each section, and the overall winner was the one who completed the total trip the fastest for the timed segments. There were pauses in the schedule between each segment allowing the slower cars to catch up.

The event included a Tesla Roadster, Zero S electric motorcycle, Toyota RAV4 EV, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, two Nissan LEAFs, and three Tesla Model S cars. The top finishers were, no surprise, the Model S drivers.

  • Jack Bowers and Georg Kuhnke, driving a Tesla Model S, finished first with about 41 hours of driving time.
  • Terry Hershner, riding a modified Zero S electric motorcycle, finished second with about 52 hours of riding time.
  • Randy and Cheryl Taylor, Canadians driving a Tesla Model S, came in third with about 57 hours of driving time.
  • David and Helen Kiker, from Redmond, Ore., also driving a Tesla Model S, came in fourth, also with about 57 hours of driving time.
  • Asoka Diggs, a brand new Tesla Roadster owner who lives in Portland, came in fifth with about 70 hours of driving time.
  • Tony Williams, of San Diego, driving a second generation Toyota RAV4 EV, came in sixth with around 74 hours of driving time.

Built for Range

Both the Tesla Roadster and Tesla Model S are well-suited for the road trip. They have a long driving range, fast-charging and can be plugged into a wide variety of power outlets through power adapters. The Zero S has similar capabilities, with with an extra-large battery pack, about nine chargers on the bike which can be used with any combination of power outlet or charging station, and can pull more than 20 kilowatts of charging rate.

Without modification, the Tesla Model S with 85 kilowatt-hour battery pack has a 265-mile E.P.A. driving range, and can recharge in about an hour at the Tesla Supercharger stations.

The Nissan LEAF drivers were still en route when the results of the race were being tallied. Both of the LEAFs had respectable results in Washington and Oregon, due to the plentiful CHADEMO chargers along the West Coast Electric Highway. However, despite promises dating back several years that California would be part of the West Coast Electric Highway, the CHADEMO chargers stop at the Oregon border. One of the LEAF drivers got stuck in Weed, Calif. for 15 hours charging at 120 volts, for example.

Nissan Leaf, charging at a Nissan dealers' CHADEMO station

The 2013 LEAF has an E.P.A. range of 73 miles, and a recharge time of three to four hours with its 6.6-kilowatt charger—or about one hour on CHADEMO fast charging stations.

What makes any car suitable for road trips is the ratio between charging time—and driving range. The better that ratio, the more easily you can take long road trips with an electric car.

Steve and Tanya Coram, LEAF drivers, live in the Seattle area, and over the past year traded in both their gas-powered cars to become a two-LEAF family. It wasn't until his wife, Tanya, went on a trip from Seattle to Portland and back, using the West Coast Electric Highway, that they obtained the confidence to go fully electric. Fast-charging improves the charging-to-driving time ratio on the LEAF, making it more capable of long trips.


· · 4 years ago

Against, Leaf sucked and Tesla S is awesome...

· · 4 years ago

So, 1,400 miles. Typically if you do 700 miles per day, that is two days or 20 to 25 hours of driving time for an ICE. 40 hours isn't too bad at all if you take it slower and break it up in 3 days.

But for the case of Leaf, that is about 20 full charges at least. So for every hour you drive, you have to stop for at least 1 hour, assuming you have DC quick charge all the way. The way it is going, it will be lucky to make it in 100 hours...

· · 4 years ago

The Tesla S should do substantially better once the Supercharging network covers the Pacific Northwest as planned by Tesla Motors.

Also, the Tesla Roadster has no "quick charging" capability. It can, however, be charged faster at 240 V than a LEAF or Volt.

· · 4 years ago

The only three vehicles that could not use DC quick charging were the Tesla Roadster, the ZERO motorcycle and Toyota Rav4 EV.

You'll note all three put in respectable performances.

Congrats to our winners Georg Kuhnke and Jack Bowers in Jack's Tesla Model S signature with a perfect score of 1/1. Here's the breakdown:

The BC2BC-2013 All Electric Vehicle Rally began with all vehicles departing from the Canadian border at the Peace Arch State Park, Saturday, June 29, 2013 with 1508 miles / 2427km driven to Mexico.

Overall Results, Final Tally, BC2BC-2013, All Electric Vehicle Rally
July 7, 2013 at 8pm

Rally #---Time points / Card points ---Model

1st) Car #43 ----- 1 / 1 --- Tesla Model S
2nd) Bike#5 ----- 3/5 --- ZERO motorcycle
3rd) Car #8 ----- 4/4 --- Tesla Model S
4th) Car #1 ------ 7/3 --- Toyota Rav4 EV
5th) Car #6 ----- 5/7 --- Tesla Model S
6th) Car #45 ---- 6/6 --- Tesla Roadster
7th) Car #4 ----- 8/- --- Nissan LEAF
8th) Car #3 ----- 9/- --- Nissan LEAF
9th) Car #2 ----- DNF --- Mitsubishi iMiev


Playing Cards
Rally #----- Card Score - Cards

1st) Car #43 - 1 point - Flush, 8 high card
2nd) Car #1 - 3 points - Straight, King high card
3rd) Car #8 - 4 points - Two Pair, 9s and Aces
4th) Car #5 - 5 points - Two Pair, 9s and Kings
5th) Car #45 - 6 points - One Pair, 7s
6th) Car #6 - 7 points - One Pair, 4s
7th) Car #4 - no score
8th) Car #3 - no score
9th) Car #2 - Did Not Finish


Overall time score, hours+minutes

1st) Car #43 - 41+08 = 18+13, 09+15, 5+48, 7+52
2nd) Bike#5 - 52+22 = 27+54, 10+35, 5+21, 8+32
3rd) Car #8 - 57+17 = 25+01, 13+59, 10+40, 7+37
4th) Car #6 - 57+35 = 31+06, 10+25, 8+38, 7+26
5th) Car #45 - 70+52 = 33+34, 14+25, 12+20, 10+33
6th) Car #1 - 74+58 = 29+20, 18+17, 16+23, 10+58
7th) Car #4 - 97+21 = 49+12, 23+20, 24+49, enroute
8th) Car #3 - 105+02 = 28+25, 50+51, 25+41, enroute
9th) Car #2 - Did Not Finish


Stage 1 results / Blaine to Grants Pass - 529 miles / 851.3km
June 29, 2013 until July 1, 2013
Rally # - Hours+Min (departure - arrival) model

1) Car #43 - 18+13 (12.09 - 06.22) Model S
2) Car #2 - 20+35 (12.12 - 08.45) iMiev
3) Car #8 - 25+01 (12.27 - 13.28) Model S
4) Bike#5 - 27+54 (12.31 - 16.25) ZERO
5) Car #3 - 28+25 (12.18 - 16.43) LEAF
6) Car #1 - 29+20 (12.34 - 17.54) Rav4 EV
7) Car #6 - 31+06 (12.24 - 19.30) Model S
8) Car #45 - 33+34 (12.21 - 21.55) Roadster
9) Car #4 - 49+12 (12.15 - 13.27+48) LEAF


Stage 2 results / Grants Pass to Santa Rosa - 374 miles / 602km
July 2, 2013 until July 4, 2013
Rally # - Hours+Min (departure - arrival) model

1) Car #43 - 09+15 (08.45 - 18.19) Model S
2) Car #6 - 10+25 (09.15 - 19.49 ) Model S
3) Bike#5 - 10+35 (09.00 - 19.47 ) ZERO
4) Car #8 - 13+59 (08.55 - 22.54 ) Model S
5) Car #45 - 14+25 (09.20 - 23.45) Roadster
6) Car #1 - 18+17 (09.10 - 03.27) Rav4 EV
7) Car #4 - 23+20 (09.25 - 08.20 +25 min penalty) LEAF
8) Car #3 - 50+51 (09.05 - 11.54+48 ) LEAF
9) Car #2 - DNS/DNF (08.50 -xx.xx) iMiev (Did Not Show/Did Not Finish)


Stage 3 results / Santa Rosa to San Luis Obispo - 274 miles / 441km
July 5, 2013 until July 6, 2013
Rally # - Hours+Min (departure - arrival) model

1) Bike#5 - 05+21 (09.10 - 17.15) minus (10.16-13.00 free) ZERO
2) Car #43 - 05+48 (09.00 - 17.23) minus (10.25-13.00 free) Model S
3) Car #6 - 08+38 (09.05 - 19.43 ) minus (11.00-13.00 free) Model S
4) Car #8 - 10+40 (09.15 - 20.03) minus (11.08-13.00 free) Model S
5) Car #45 - 12+20 (09.20 - 23.20 ) minus (11.20-13.00 free) Roadster
6) Car #1 - 16+23 (09.25 - 03.38 ) minus (11.10-13.00 free) Rav4 EV
7) Car #4 - 24+49 (09.30 - 11.15 ) minus (12.04-13.00 free) LEAF
8) Car #3 - 25+41 (09.35 - 11.38) minus (12.38-13.00 free) LEAF
9) Car #2 - Did Not Finish


Stage 4 results / San Luis Obispo to San Yisidro - 321 miles / 516.6km
July 7, 2013 until July 8, 2013
Rally # - Hours+Min (departure - arrival) model

1) Car #6 - 7+26 (08.35-16.01) - Model S
2) Car #8 - 7+37 (08.40- 16.17))- Model S
3) Car #43 - 7+52 (08.30-16.22) - Model S
4) Bike#5 - 8+32 (09.00-17.32) - ZERO
5) Car #45 - 10+33 (08.45-18.00+78) - Roadster
6) Car #1 - 10+58 (08.50-18.30+78) - Rav4 EV
7) Car #4 --+-- (08.55-enroute) - LEAF
8) Car #3 --+-- (09.05-enroute) - LEAF
9) Car #2 - Did Not Finish


@QCpower #BC2BC #WCEH


Glypmse group tracking: !BC2BC

· · 4 years ago


Thanks for the race stats...

This clearly shows that small battery pack cars aren't for long trip travel....

Leaf is really nothing more than a city car.

· · 4 years ago

Marvel, you did notice that the only "real" city car got 2nd in the first Stage? The Mitsubishi iMiev? 62 mile EPA range?

· · 4 years ago

Yes. But the rally isn't won with only one stage, is it? It is like winning the Nascar first lap and end up NOT finishing.

What happened to the i? It gave up? Problem with the battery? In the first 529 miles, it needs at least 9 DC quick charges. A model S would only need 2 full charges. Superchargers would make it quick if it is available. In this case, it isn't. It would depend on L2 chargers. Did the rest of the Tesla drivers oversleep or can't find a high power L2 charger? Some more details would help.

For a car like the Leaf or the I, a 1,500 miles trip would require at least 20-25 full charges. That is at least 20-25 additional hours spending extra waiting. Without quick charge, you are talking about 60-80 hours of waiting and charging.

I think those "waiting times" proves that they are NOTHING more than a city car. And the fact that it depends on a DC quick charger every 50 miles is a fact that they are nothing more than a city car.

· · 4 years ago

MMF - I didn't realize that we needed a cross-country rally to determine that the Leaf/I are meant primarily for local driving. However, I would think that this PROVES that they are CAPABLE of long distances. They may not be as well-suited for this trip as a Tesla or pretty much any ICEV, but they made it, didn't they? (Well, most of them).

Tony - I was under the impressing that ZERO motorcycles supported CHAdeMO charging. Is that an option that this particular bike doesn't have? Or is that a "future option" that's not available yet?

· · 4 years ago

The drivers of the i-MiEV decided to not take part in the other stages of the rally, but they did drive the whole distance. What this means is they did not catch up with everyone at each stage segment, but instead just kept on driving.

Marvel - what the rally showed is that the Leaf/i-MiEV are more capable of long trips than you might think - IF there is sufficient fast charging. The first stage the Leaf's did better than they did in the last stages.

As for Terry Hershner's Zero S. It is a 2012 model and CHADEMO is not available. I'd written a paragraph or two describing his bike, but it got dropped in editing. His bike is highly modified and has a fully aerodynamic fairing, plus 9 chargers. The chargers can be plugged into multiple charging stations, or into multiple 240v 50A outlets like what are available at RV parks, and between them he has over a 20 kilowatt charging rate. It means he can charge in about an hour, just like the Model S's. Plus his bike has a 150-200 mile riding range, thanks to additional battery packs he's installed.

· · 4 years ago

I meant to say, CHADEMO was not available for the 2012 Zero S. That was a new feature for the 2013 model.

· · 4 years ago

"Marvel - what the rally showed is that the Leaf/i-MiEV are more capable of long trips than you might think - IF there is sufficient fast charging. The first stage the Leaf's did better than they did in the last stages."

Well, people have traveled across the globe on bicycles too. The fact is that in those "limited" role vehicles, traveling far distance is almost as slow as horse back... In my book, that is a step backward.

Human society has always invented technology to travel farther and faster. That is why I firmly believe in Tesla's approach, NOT Leaf's approach. Of course, with that said, Leaf is perfectly fine for most of the daily driving that multi-car family would need. But just don't sell it as "ready for the world" vehicle like some hardcore EVs fan out there...

· · 4 years ago


Thanks for the clarification on the Zero. I haven't really been following the motorcycle side of the EV world as much, and it doesn't seem to get as much press.

I would personally consider a Zero motorcycle, but I'm really concerned about the safety issue. Motorcycles are inherently dangerous. One of their key safety features is how loud they are. Those loud pipes are just to impress you - they get your attention. Too often when riding, car drivers will look right through me, and not even see me there.

Anyway, 150-200 mile range is awesome. My old katana only got about 100-125 miles on a tank. Of course, after 125 miles, I needed to stop anyway to stretch/rest.

· · 4 years ago

I would be one of the lucky guys if I could watch that rally. Really this would be great. Electric car is just awesome. Thanks

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