Men’s Health Reinvents the American Road Trip
The goal: To go fast—by slowing down.
NEW YOR—Men’s Health, the world’s largest men’s magazine, announced today the launch of 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 will begin in New York City and end in Los Angeles.
“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.”
The team will leave the New York International Auto Show on April 11 and will stop between 40 and 55 times to recharge the battery of its 2012 Ford Focus Electric, a new electric car that recently earned a 110 mile-per-gallon equivalent (MPGe) rating from the EPA for city driving. This makes it the most efficient 5-seater in the U.S. With each charging stop taking between 2 and 4 hours—and with the drivers progressing in shifts around the clock—the team expects to arrive at Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles 10 to 12 days after the Challenge commences, possibly arriving on Earth Day, April 22. At that point, they will establish 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.”
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. All of these will benefit readers thanks to a steady stream of surprising tips and advice across a wide range of subjects. The team will provide updates at menshealth.com/ElectrifyUS, and via Twitter at @MHTechLust (#ElectrifyUS). The team will check in with FourSquare at every stop, and followers are encouraged to come out to meet the team, work out with them, and perhaps score some t-shirts.
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 is 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?”
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