Can an electric car make the journey from Santa Cruz to Los Angeles and back in one day? Aptos resident Jack Brown thinks so
Electric cars are known for being eco friendly—not necessarily for covering long distances or being the most time efficient mode of travel. But Jack Brown, an information technology manager and consultant who recently moved to the Aptos area, believes that it’s all about “making the journey.”
On Friday, Sept. 14, Brown will depart from the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County in Aptos at 12:01 a.m. and attempt to take his electric BMW on a more than 700-mile round trip journey from Aptos to Los Angeles and back before midnight that same day. “This will be the first time I have driven so far from my predictable commute,” Brown says.
Part of Brown’s inspiration for his trek stems from electric car distance driver Tony Williams’ “BC2BC” trip in June, during which Williams drove a brand new Nissan Leaf from Tijuana, in Baja California, to British Columbia in a little more than eight days. Brown was also spurred to do this trip by a desire to show “naysayers that such a trip was possible despite the challenge to find a route and the available infrastructure,” he adds.
(His interest in and dedication to electric cars can be traced to an experience he had abroad: “Upon spending the night with a farming family outside of Qufu, China in 2009 they picked up [myself], my wife, and our luggage in their three-wheel electric scooter,” he says. “I was convinced the trike wouldn’t move, but the bike took off like a rocket.”)
Brown is one of 700 people across the United States who are part of an evaluation program for BMW, testing the powertrain for the BMW i3 in a converted 2011 BMW 1-series car called an ActiveE, which only has a 32 kWh, 100-mile range per charged battery. Brown has mapped out a travel route along Highway 101 and the I-5 corridor that takes him through Santa Nella, Coalinga, Atascadero and Thousand Oaks. “Many of the locations offer free or low-cost charging,” he adds.
Following his electric feat, Brown will be participating in Santa Cruz’s second annual National Plug-In Day event at Staff of Life Market on Sunday, Sept. 23, where he will speak about the environmental benefits and cost savings of electric vehicles, as well as his 700-mile journey. Brown’s message, he says, will be that an electric car can do all the same things an internal combustion car can do.
As for his approaching trip, he adds, “There are risks and challenges, and I am hoping I have considered all the possible problems and contingencies that might be faced.”
National Plug-In Day is set to take place on Sunday, September 23 from noon to 3 p.m. in the Staff of Life parking lot, 1266 Soquel Ave. Proclamations and awards presentation will begin at 1:30 p.m. For more event details, visit pluginday.org.