Albion man breaks world record for trip in electric car
Nearly 35,000 miles and counting for Brian Kent
For nearly six months Brian Kent has been traveling the country, spreading a message that electric cars are reliable long-range vehicles.
Since he left Albion on Aug. 24, Kent has driven a 2013 Nissan LEAF nearly 35,000 miles. He was at 34,260 miles on Thursday when he was in South Lake, Texas.
When he left Albion in late August, Kent intended a 100-day trip that would cover 26,000 miles. He wanted to drive through 48 states (all but Alaska and Hawaii).
Kent scrapped the plan, preferring not to stick to a strict schedule. He estimates he has talked with more than 2,000 people on the trip, often when he is charging his car.
He has made numerous new friends and has emerged as a bit of a celebrity of the electric car movement. He received a hero’s welcome when he visited a Tesla sales site in Dallas-Fort Worth.
He has been featured in blogs and news sites that promote and explore electric cars and the green energy movement.
Kent plans to come home in April. He wants to be in New Jersey on March 31 when the new Tesla Model 3 is introduced.
Kent set out to shatter myths about the electric vehicles. They are capable of long-range trips. He wanted to show the network of charge stations throughout the country and also meet other electric vehicle drivers.
“I wanted to show that a car like mine could do it,” he said by phone. “I wanted to demonstrate the viability of limited range, affordable electric vehicles.”
He also wanted to break the world record for longest trip in an electric vehicle (non solar). Norman Hajjar set the mark in Tesla Model S with 12,183 miles from March 28 to April 21, 2014 in a trip that started in Portand, Oregon and ended in Venice, Calif.
Kent smashed that record. But another driver, Steve Sasman, also took a big trip in 2015. Sasman covered 27,615 miles last year in the US and Canada. News of his trip came out in December. Kent faced a dilemma in late December. He could set the 133-day record but he would have to really push his Leaf.
He wasn’t going to do it, but some of his key supporters urged him to break the record. On the last day he drove 650 miles in his Leaf, a trip from San Diego to Canada, breaking the record for the entire trip by 5 miles at 27,620 miles.
He has been at a more leisurely pace the past two months since breaking the record. He has been spending time with one of his supporters, a family in the Dallas, Texas area. But he will soon be heading to Little Rock, Ark, as he works his way to New Jersey for the new Tesla unveiling.
Kampgrounds of America is one of Kent’s sponsors. They have charging stations and they have also let his stay in cabins. He spends about half of his nights sleeping in the car. He has it set up with a feather bed in back. He took out the back seats.
“The best part: no exhaust,” he said.
Besides Kampgrounds of America, Kent is partnering with Michelin, Plug in America, National Drive Electric Week, EV Charge Hub, Clean Technica, Inside EVs, and The Green Optimistic for the educational trip.
Kent said the car has only ran out of power once. The first day of the trip when he was in the Catskills and took a wrong turn, resulting in an 18-mile detour. He needed to be towed. He said driver error, and not the car, is at fault for that incident.
Otherwise, the car has been able to go all over the country without missing a charge.
Kent also has planted a tree in nearly every state he has visited. That is 35 in 39 states. Four times he didn’t have someone lined up who would care for the tree, ensuring it was watered and cared for in the critical few weeks after a tree is planted.
He tries to see the capital in each state. He also stops at the popular tourist attractions, trying to get his car in photos with famous scenes, including mountains in the background or public art or war memorials.
His car is covered in decals of sponsors and messages from supporters. He has wrap on top of the car that shows a map of the U.S. In each state he asks at least one person to sign their state.
“This is the best life experience I’ve ever had,” Kent said. “I’ve met an amazing array of people along the way,” he said.