It’s 216 miles to Cape Girardeau, we got a full charge, half a box of cookies, it’s dark and stormy… and we’re wearing sunglasses.

This past Saturday morning at 5:30 am members of the Illuminati gathered at the Hall of Seven (as our friends from TW4XP in Germany have named it) to take an unprecedented trip. We drove over 200 miles on a single charge down Interstate 55 from our headquarters to Cape Girardeau, Missouri to visit with Jack Rickard of EVTV fame. Representing the Illuminated on this trip were: Nate Knappenburger, Josh Spradlin, Matt Yochim, and me, Kevin Smith. Our trip got off to a good start for a change. I had packed the charger and worked into the wee hours of the morning installing new vent windows. And so, with coffee mug in hand, I took the helm of Seven with Nate as co-pilot and Off We Go! with Josh and Matt backing us up in the trusty F150 with trailer in tow (just in case ;))

About 5 miles from the house I remembered that I had topped off the radiator fluid at about 2 am but for the life of me couldn’t remember putting the cap back on…so our first quick stop Nate and I popped the hood for a quick look and luckily I can properly install a radiator cap even in my sleep. So once again, Off we go!…again.

Closely monitoring our speed (about 60 mph at this point) current draw and voltage, Nate and I continuously ran quick calculations in our heads to determine if everything was running ok and if we’re within the very narrow parameters necessary for us to make such a long trip to somewhere we’ve never been…and we’re not. But we reassured ourselves by saying that the batteries are cold, the drivetrain and motor are cold, and that we usually see increased efficiency as they warm up. As the drive continued we didn’t see the improvement we normally see so we quickly stopped (bathroom break) and switched out co-pilots for a mini version of Nate: Matt. And Off We Go!

As we continued on our way, Matt and I noticed a marked increase in efficiency…20%, way too much to account for the lighter passenger, about 17% too much, so what else could it be? The temperature had risen and so had our drivetrain and battery efficiency. Nate’s relieved, a 20% increase due to weight alone would mean that he weighs 1200 lbs more than Matt, and he admitted to having a large breakfast that morning and though I refer to Nate sometimes as Andre the Giant and he refers to me as the Hobbit, the real Andre would refer to Nate as one of the members of the Lolly Pop Guild. I’m afraid where I would fall into Andre’s size rating scale.

With the temp up and weight optimized Seven was now performing as expected and well within the necessary parameters to make it to Jack’s. Of course that means something else must be afoot. Not much longer into our trip the wind started picking up and its started to rain. A nasty storm cell was set to cross our path and golf ball size hail was in the forecast. Being the cautions guy I am, when Josh and Matt let me know that the storm was on the horizon, I said, “It’ll miss us. I’m sure. Look at the radar– we should beat it by at least several feet before it crosses our path. (While looking at an iPhone radar image you’d be surprised how easy it is to make such guestimates.) And we did, in fact, beat it by several yards.

The Missouri hills and sustained higher speeds to get us past the storm ate into our energy supply. Remember, when you only hold the equivalent of one gallon of gas and are trying to go over 200 miles on it, any wasted fuel is too much. I consulted with Matt.

Me: “Hey Matt. Can you get topographical and copographical maps on the iPhone and tell me what type of hills we’re looking at and how far we have to go…like to the foot?”

Matt: “Um, no. But I can kind’ve tell by the placement of trees, waterways and houses where and how the hills lie so… um…looks like we have a lot of really big hills coming up.”

And so Matt deciphered the topography of our trip based on these vague landmarks, and did a really amazing job. I mean REAL AMAZING! Down to the distance to and size of the next hill and whether it’s a positive or negative grade. My job was to try and match our energy draw to speed to make sure we don’t draw too much power so we can still make it to Jack’s. All this while Josh and Nate followed in the truck, turning on their flashers as we slowed to the minimum speed up the really big hills and then zipped up to 70+ MPH going down the other side.

Long story longer, we made it to Jack’s. 216 miles in just over 4 hours with 3 stops along the way, with 1% of our energy left, averaging 217 miles per gallon. For those of you who are good at math, even those of you who aren’t, this means…lets see…217-216 = 1.
1 mile left in our batteries! See, I knew we could make it. No sweat.

And once we were there we had a great time visiting with Jack and his EvTv crew, driving Jack’s Speedster and Spyder, giving Jack a tour of Seven, and trading info on suppliers for LED headlights and tail lights, battery connector thru-post, hub caps and different types of DC-DC converters. A true information exchange with all the results of our exploits and cars laid out to be seen; the only way to speed along the advent of mainstream electric car proliferation.

Stories told, help given, adventures shared, Seven recharged. And without even killing Jack with my bad driving of the Speedster or losing intern Matt, we said our goodbyes and hopped into Seven, Josh and me with Nate and Matt in the truck, and headed home taking the scenic river road through Illinois this time (less hills).

On the way home we discovered that the new vent windows work great, that driving a less hilly course required about 7% less energy and the smile on Josh’s face, his first long trip in Seven since the winter mods, told me everything is good.

We’ll be heading back down to Jacks with Seven this September for the first EVCCON!
Hope to see you there…and yes, the stories are true, I love talking and do it way too much but what I love even more is letting Seven talk for herself by giving rides!

So, if you want to hear what Seven has to say for herself, go to EVTV and sign up for the convention and while you’re there vote for me, Kevin Smith, in the EVTV Build Your Dream EV contest.

Audere Est Facere!