Men’s Health, the world’s largest men’s magazine, has just completed its 2012 Electric Car Challenge, a cross-country adventure designed to help maximize the potential of electric vehicles (EV’s), create a healthier, more satisfying, and more exciting road trip experience, and raise money for an important cause. The cross-country course began in New York City and ended in Los Angeles.
The team left the New York International Auto Show on April 11th and stopped several times in each state to recharge the battery of its 2012 Ford Focus Electric, which recently earned a 110 mile-per-gallon equivalent (MPGe) rating from the EPA for city driving. They have established the record for the fastest coast-to-coast drive in an electric car, creating a target for others to beat as battery technology improves and charging options expand.
“With gas prices expected to reach nearly $5 per gallon this summer, the Great American Road Trip is poised for a Great American Renaissance,” said David Zinczenko, editor-in-chief of Men’s Health. “We created the Electric Car Challenge to demonstrate a more eco-friendly approach to the road trip that will have a positive effect on you, your wallet, and the environment.”
Here’s what Men’s Health had to say about the trip, prior to leaving New York:
Though it will use public and commercial charging stations, the team will crowd-source most of the trip, inviting readers and supporters to help make the record possible by offering their 240v, 40-amp outlets, such as those typically installed for clothes dryers. To fulfill the mission of reinventing the American road trip, the drivers will fill the charging periods with exciting, life-changing experiences that you can’t enjoy when racing down the highway—they’ll be engaged adventures, exercise and fitness challenges, culinary pursuits, environmental missions, and more.
According to Eric Adams, a team member and senior editor at the magazine, one of the hardest parts of planning the challenge was simply convincing Ford to loan Men’s Health the car for this unorthodox test. “The Focus Electric is designed for urban commuting, so we’re asking the car to do something it wasn’t intended to do,” said Adams, who will be the first journalist to drive the Focus Electric. “We commend Ford for their willingness to put their faith in our planning skills and efficient driving.”
In addition to Adams, the team consists—at varying points during the drive—of X-Games gold medalist Tanner Foust, co-host of Top Gear USA; IndyCar and American Le Mans racer Martin Plowman; and former Navy SEAL commander Coleman Ruiz, executive director of Carry the Load, a foundation that supports the families of U.S. soldiers who’ve been killed in combat. The team will raise money for the foundation throughout the drive. Also on board for several days each, to provide different perspectives on the road-trip experience: Men’s Health Girl Next Door columnist Naomi Piercey, Miss Indiana 2009 Nicole Pollard; and Carry the Load spokesmodel Katie Cwynar.
The team’s route—extending to Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Oklahoma City, Amarillo, Albuquerque, Flagstaff, and Los Angeles, and all points in between—will maximize driving efficiency. While this is a “speed record,” no speed limits will be broken, since high speed taxes the battery. The car will mostly be off-highway in order to extend its range and offer better experiences for the team. For safety and practicality reasons, the drivers will have a Ford F-150 EcoBoost support vehicle, which will permit teams to proceed ahead of the Focus to help ensure all the drivers receive full night’s sleep daily. The trip will be analyzed and rendered carbon-neutral using ignition’s iSES™ sustainability program, via offset donations provided by Carbonfund.org.
Ultimately, the team’s true goal was simply to have fun. “We want to see what kind of great experiences we can stitch together while our car is charging,” Adams notes. “It’s not a fair challenge, of course—the infrastructure for fast, easy charging doesn’t exist yet. But that’s why we’re doing it. If the infrastructure was there, what fun would that be?”