In 1908, the New York Times and Paris’ La Matin sponsored a race around the world. Starting in New York, competitors would go through Albany, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Valdez, Kobe, Vladivostok, Omsk, Moscow St. Petersburg and Berlin before concluding the race in Paris. The race would cover 22,000 miles, mostly on unpaved roads, over 169 days. Six cars entered the race, but only three finished. Crossing the finish line first was a 1907 Thomas Flyer, driven by the team from the United States.
The Great Race, as the event was called, was an early effort to prove the reliability and functionality of the automobile. At the time, automobiles were seen as toys for the rich, not nearly as dependable as the horse and buggy. By promoting a round-the-world race, the event organizers hoped to portray the automobile as a viable method of transportation.
Fast forward one hundred and two years. A group of friends calling themselves Project Evie are seeking to do an even more epic circumnavigation, to prove the viability of the electric car as a practical means of transportation. Starting in New Zealand, the team will travel north through Australia, into Southeast Asia, across China, through Tibet, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey. Crossing the Bosphorus Strait, the team will tour Europe before heading back through Turkey, south through the Middle East and down into Africa. A boat will take them across the Atlantic to South America where they’ll resume the drive through South and Central America and into the United States. Ultimately, their journey will conclude in New York City, but only after covering some seventy thousand miles, across seventy countries and six continents.
The two car team will face political unrest (such as crossing from Pakistan into India, or getting into Iran with an Israeli passport stamp), absence of charging stations (although they plan to improvise by tapping donated power from industrial sources), landmines in sub-Sahara Africa and the possibility of bandits or random violence throughout much of their trip (there’s a reason that the Paris – Dakar race isn’t run on the African continent any longer). Ask anyone who’s travelled the globe, and they’ll tell you the same thing: success or failure is often determined by the amount of local knowledge you have. Knowing who to bribe and how much to pay is often the difference between a successful border crossing and a lengthy jail stay in countries that don’t understand due process.
The Project Evie team faces another threat as well; TAG Heuer and Tesla have teamed up on a big budget circumnavigation to promote the Tesla and TAG brands. Sticking to major world cities only, their “Odyssey of the Pioneers” tour will travel nearly 23,000 miles over six months. Given the backing and funding of this event, it’s unlikely they’ll be facing hardships beyond 100 thread count sheets on a regular basis.
Project Evie has yet to announce the cars they’ll use for the journey, but their website seems to heavily promote the BYD e6, a Chinese manufactured electric car expected to make its U.S. debut by the end of this year. The e6 is a four door, five passenger electric vehicle that boasts a range of 250 miles per charge and a top speed of 87 miles per hour. It’s iron phosphate battery pack can be quick-charged to 50% of capacity in only ten minutes.
Want to know more about Project Evie? Want to track their progress or make a donation? You can find their information here.