2 Teslas, the Pan-American Highway and an extreme adventure

Driving an electric vehicle down the Pan-American Highway is no small feat, but a team in two Teslas does just that. Life is a journey and sometimes we find ourselves in the most interesting places. This literally applies to Electric Americas Foundation founder Martin Canabal. Martin drives down the Pan American Highway and has a team film a documentary about the adventurous road trip. I interviewed Martin for: CleanTechnica earlier this summer just after he started his journey from Alaska. This is a follow up to that interview.

Credit: Electric America

When we spoke, Martin was in Mexico and we talked about some of his adventures on the road from Alaska to Mexico. The team drives two Teslas on the Pan-American Highway, the world’s longest motorable road. Although it starts in Alaska and ends in Patagonia, there will be part of the journey where they have to transport the cars over the Darién Gap, an area where the highway does not exist for political and environmental reasons.

So far, Martin and his teams have faced flat tires, bad roads, torrential rain and Mexican speed bumps. Martin explained that the speed bumps in Mexico are huge and because of the speed bumps he has to adjust the tow bar.

Credit: Electric America

“We took the cars to places I didn’t think we would be able to take on this trip,” he said. One of those places is Punta Abreojos, Baja California. a remote fishing village in the Pacific Ocean.

“We slept in off-the-grid huts with solar energy (so no charging!), no charging points in the city. We could barely charge with the 110/12A mobile charger in some homes. We had to change tires and we had to wait several days for them to arrive, so we couldn’t get to our next charging station. The tire shop had a welding machine, but we didn’t have the right plug, so we had to improvise.”

Bahia de Todos los ngeles was another place Martin and his team visited in Baja, California. He told me they’d driven off the main roads to see whale sharks and barely made it back in time to recharge.

“We thought we could charge for a few hours, but the city’s voltage wasn’t enough, so don’t charge at all!”

In Cabo Pulmo, the roads were so bad that Martin got a flat tire and the two cars separated. And the bad roads eventually damaged their tires.

“We were using a tire repair and had to give air to the wheel with a bicycle pump from someone who stopped to help us. We had an electric air pump but it was on the other car, it had to leave the day before to change the other tires. Then we made a rule: we are not going to drive separately! After all this we were able to get replacement tyres, replacement wheels and everything we needed to repair and replace the tyres, but we also added more weight and this affects our range.”

The team had to change their schedule and times of the trip to replace all tires for the Model X, which had also suffered a flat tire.

“It was a challenge. Finally we were able to buy old tires and continue our journey to Cabo San Lucas where we bought new tires. This story ended in Guadalajara where we could go to Tesla Service and change the other two tires.”

Another extreme place Martin and his team visited is El Peñon, a place for paragliding near Valle de Bravo.

“You get there on country roads, and dirt roads. But the place is majestic and it is one of the best paragliding/hanggliding in the world!”

Martin’s last Tesla Service appointment was in Mexico City, where they looked at the cars to make sure any repairs had been made. After Mexico City, there will be no more Tesla Service Centers for the team as they continue along the Pan-American Highway.

Credit: Electric America

“We have road service in Mexico, but a week after we leave the country, we no longer have support from Tesla. That becomes a challenge if something happens. We also had our last Tesla Supercharger in Puebla, Mexico.”

While Martin chatted with me, his car was parked at a local Nissan dealer with charging stations. As for charging the rest of the trip, Martin was willing to be creative.

The original plan didn’t include charging stations beyond certain points, but Martin stressed that the EV charging landscape has changed and he sees this throughout his journey.

Credit: Electric America

“I have planned this trip in 2020 and we should recharge in between a few days. There were no charging points. Now we are in Puerto Escondido and we are staying here for four days. We have to film for the documentary and we have to pay. Normally it would be slow without chargers.”

“Now we can find chargers, so our situation is much better now. I think a lot has improved in two years. When I did my research, there weren’t many charging points for our route from Mexico to Argentina. And now I see more. And that’s incredible.”

“On the other hand, we had to charge via the normal socket. But we found out that this is not always possible. We tried to charge it in several places and the Tesla wouldn’t charge because it felt it was just not right.”

Credit: Electric America

Martin and the team expect this to be a common occurrence for the rest of the trip. An unexpected surprise was that they didn’t have to pay for Supercharging in Mexico.

“Because Tesla in Mexico cannot charge for Supercharging, hotels were encouraged to install destination chargers, which was great for us.”

Martin noted that Tesla would soon start charging Supercharging in Mexico, but he didn’t have to pay for Supercharging for his trip. He and the team also had hotel adventures. Some were expensive, some reasonable, and some, he said with a laugh, were hard to explain.

As Martin continues his journey down the Pan-American Highway, he plans to keep me updated on his progress. And if he does, I’ll be sure to share his stories here.

Your feedback is important. If you have any comments, concerns, or a typo, please email me at: [email protected]. You can also reach me on Twitter @JohnnaCrider1

2 Teslas, the Pan-American Highway and an extreme adventure






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