Follow Rafael's position on his "80 eDays" world tour:
The success of any racer--EV or not--is contingent upon one thing: a fast car. The Tesla Roadster is able to jump from 0-60 in less than 3.7 seconds and offers a range of about 250 miles depending on drive conditions. But, if Rafael goes too fast he risks reducing range, making it tougher to stretch to the next charging station.
That's why, for his U.S. leg, Rafael brought along 5 charge adapters for his Tesla. He has all different types: 4 pin for dryer hookups; 5-pin for campgrounds; J1772, for just about any standardized station; a different type of famous 5-pin; and of course, a standard U.S. plug.
When researching charging options for the cross-country trip, Rafael was told that California would be the easiest to get because of their investment in EV infrastructure there, but that charging between the coasts could present a challenge. Rafael, however, says that finding charging stations in the middle was easier than he thought. Most of the places he stopped at were campgrounds. He says the RV parks have 50 amp circuits making his recharge stops less than five hours. Rafael said, "The charge times were so quick; I barely had a chance to sleep. Once the car was charged I was on my way."
Rafael also has a custom-programmed smartphone app to help him. The app alerts him when the Tesla is fully charged, among providing other diagnostic functions. We were able to get a hands-on with the app (video above) and a clue that Tesla might be interested in buying or implementing similar technology for the Roadster. (Tesla already announced its availability on the Model S.) The app allows Rafael to unlock/lock the car from anywhere, as well as begin charging, and get status alerts when something changes or goes wrong with the system. He says this app is what really makes his trip possible.
Rafeal's main goal is to show non-EV owners that there are a lot of misconceptions about charging. He says, "All you ever need is a socket." Though Rafael is very prepared for any kind, he says most are the standard J1772. He wants to prove that there is nothing to fear when driving long distances in an EV, so long as you have time.
His other objective is to add new charging station locations to EV maps. That's why he partnered with Chargelocator.com. When he plugs into a new charging station, the smartphone app sends a signal with GPS and charger info to the web. This action creates a new charging location on the interactive map, if there isn't one already there. And because Chargelocator.com sells this data to navigation data providers, it's possible that Rafael's new charge points will be seen on future nav systems.
If Rafael makes it in less than 80 days, his name will go into the record books. And, aside from the glory that comes with it, Rafael will know that he's making a difference by changing the perception of electric car charging.