Hope and Concern

I’m sitting in the ‘U-Drop Inn’, an old Conoco station that now houses Tesla’s Shamrock, Texas Supercharger and serves as the Shamrock Visitor Center. This is trip two of five from Nashville to Santa Fe and I know I’ll be sipping a Keurig-brewed coffee here again next week on another cross-country journey in an electric car. As I sit here, thinking about the past year, I realize how far the technology has already come.

One year ago, almost to the day, I moved back to Nashville with the intent of researching and launching a ridesharing company called Bolt focused on creating shared, sustainable transportation. My brother, Baker, and I settled into a pre-launch workshop at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, leased a Nissan Leaf, and signed up to drive on Uber. By the New Year, we had learned enough to justify bringing our father’s Tesla Model S to Nashville for more research.

As I drove out of Santa Fe in the first days of the new year, we drove into a blizzard. As we traveled at about 20 MPH on I-40E, we plotted our stops at various RV parks on Route 66. Tesla hadn’t yet expanded its Supercharger Network to cover New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, or Tennessee. It was going to be a long trip… a trip that the average American would most certainly not be willing to make.

Yesterday, though, I drove from Humboldt to Memphis, where I used a DC Fast Charger intended for shorter range EVs, like the Leaf, which took roughly 30 minutes to refill the 80 miles I’d used. Then I headed to Russellville, AR where I sat for four hours at a Hotel 8 that had a Level 2 Tesla charger. Highly caffeinated, and motivated by no more long stops, I headed to Oklahoma City where I could hit the first Tesla Supercharger of the trip. About 3/4 of the way, it became apparent that I had driven too fast and wasn’t going to make it without slowing down considerably. Turns out, that still didn’t help. I ran out of electricity about 1 mile from the Supercharger.

So, now it’s 2:30 am and I’m stuck on the side of the road in Oklahoma City, what am I going to do? I did the first thing that came to mind, I called Tesla’s Driver Assistance line and told them the problem. Within 15 minutes, a tow truck had arrived. He hooked me up and towed me right up to the Supercharger. I slept for an hour in the back and was back on the road again with a full battery.

Now, here I am, sitting in an abandoned gas station turned port for electric car charging. In the last place I thought such realizations would happen - a small town in North Texas called Shamrock - I find myself thinking that we are sitting at the tipping point of something really, really big: a transformation in the way we move around.

From Shamrock, I can make it to Tucumcari and then to Santa Fe with only short stops at Superchargers. By this time next year, Tesla’s Supercharger Network will cover the vast majority of the country, enabling Tesla owners to travel long distances with zero fuel costs and a fuel that can be sourced from the sun, wind, or water. I find it all too surreal that this old Conoco station represents such a huge shift away from carbon and into a world fueled by sustainable energy. That's the hopeful part. 

But, as fast as this shift is happening, the move towards a zero-carbon economy is moving too slowly. And when you start to think about the consequences, that is very, very bad for us all.

If you agree, I encourage to add your voice to this letter to our world leaders who are about to convene in Paris for COP-21. In Paris, our world leaders are going to come to an all-inclusive Agreement to combat the effects of climate change created by our reliance on carbon-based fuels. It's time to tell them you want real commitments to real change: https://roadtoparis.climaterealityproject.org/english.php

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