BC2BC Electric Car Rally Cancelled: No Sponsors, Lack of Support Blamed

The 2014 BC2BC electric car road trip — which promised to be the largest road trip and gathering of electric vehicles in the world to date — has officially been cancelled, it was announced on Thursday.

This year's BC2BC rally has been cancelled due to a lack of support and sponsorship.

This year’s BC2BC rally has been cancelled due to a lack of support and sponsorship.

Due to leave Baja, California (BC) on August 7 and arrive in Vancouver, British Columbia (BC) on August 17, this year’s BC2BC rally would have been the third time the event had taken place. But in a post made on Facebook on Thursday night last week (via GreenCarReportsBC2BC rally organiser officially cancelled the event.

The cancellation, just three weeks before the event was due to start, will leave many who had hoped to take part disappointed. As event organiser Tony Williams explained in his post however, a lack of sponsorship combined with little support from the state of California and what appears to be disinterest in the event from Nissan and Tesla meant that there was no option by to call the 1,500 mile trip off.

When it came to funding of the BC2BC rally, Williams said that he’d been spending his own funds to keep the event planning on track. Despite initial interest in sponsoring the event however, he was unable to get any major sponsors to agree to support the event.

Last year's trophies for BC2BC participants (Photo: Tony Williams, BC2BC Rally)

Last year’s trophies for BC2BC participants (Photo: Tony Williams, BC2BC Rally, via Facebook)

“The costs are already significant just to get the event to this point, and without major sponsors like we had last year, that left only me to fund the events,” he wrote in the public post. 

Like last year’s successful 2013 BC2BC rally, Williams had planned for a whole series of events and displays along the route, including what had been billed as the largest gathering of electric vehicles in the world. Due to take place in California, the record attempt would have challenged the one set earlier this year in Stuttgart by the WAVE Trophy.

The world record attempt had been envisaged to coincide with promotion of the California West Coast Electric Highway, a series of charging stations planned to extend up I-5 from the Mexican border in the south to the Oregonian border in the north. Like the West Coast Electric Highway running through Oregon and Washington, the California West Coast Electric Highway would have provided electric car owners a way to travel the length of California without range anxiety. 

Yet a change in staff at the Californian Governor’s office has reportedly left the project floundering.

“I just don’t see anything happening from California that would match what Oregon and Washington states have already done, and are expanding on,” Williams said.  “It seems we are beating a dead horse there.”

The BC2BC event this year wanted to challenge the electric car record set in Stuttgart earlier this year.

The BC2BC event this year wanted to challenge the electric car record set in Stuttgart earlier this year.

The final nail in the coffin at this year’s event however seems to be the lack of support the BC2BC organisation team received from automakers Nissan and Tesla. As stated by Williams, neither Nissan nor Tesla expressed an interest in the event, or in helping out with the logistics of charging.

“These two companies are leaders in the market, but in the third year of this event, we never got even the most basic support. Not a Tweet, not a Facebook post, not anything whatsoever, ever,” Williams wrote.

Moving forward, Williams said next year’s event — or any future BC2BC events — will only be considered if the rally has a sponsor from the outset, but here at Transport Evolved, we can’t help but wonder if the days of the long-distance EV rally are numbered.

That’s because the original need for longer-distance events — advocacy and adventure — are met in different ways today. Furthermore, most electric cars aren’t designed or sold to be long-distance vehicles.

When it comes to advocacy, long-distance trips used to be a way for EV advocates to increase the exposure ordinary members of the public had to electric cars. But all along the Pacific Coast where electric car adoption rates are already high, advocacy is being met in other ways, most noticeably by the high numbers of electric cars on the roads.

Are electric car road trips no-longer a challenge?

Are electric car road trips no-longer a challenge?

As for adventure? Part of the appeal for longer-distance trips has always been the challenge of pushing the car and its driver to the limits, using cunning and planning to charge wherever possible to make the destination. But when it’s possible to travel many hundreds of miles in an electric car thanks to charging networks like the Supercharger Highway and the West Coast Electric Highway, there’s no metaphorical mountain to climb. When something becomes easier to achieve, there’s less prestige in doing it.

Do you agree? Would you take part in a 1,500 mile road trip in an electric car? Do you think road trips are good for the image of electric cars? Should the BC2BC have received more official support from automakers and government? And why did no-one step up to sponsor it?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.


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  • Surya

    I agree that EV road trips are no challenge anymore… in a very tiny amount of locations. My trip to the UK went almost without any problems, and I can see why a road trip among the west coast would go pretty well. In other places though, it’s still a challenge I think. Remember that trip you where trying a couple of weeks back? Or have you banned that from your memory? 😀

    • lee colleton

      They aren’t a challenge for people who can afford luxury vehicles with immense batteries. However, few people are in that situation. I look forward to Tesla making a more affordable car which will presumably have a long range and Supercharging capability.

      • Surya

        I don’t agree. I did a 1 week road trip of about 1000 miles with my ZOE (similar range to the Leaf) in the UK (not my home country) and encountered very few problems and didn’t spend significantly more time than I would with a regular car. Supercharging is far superior, but that doesn’t mean the other solutions are worthless. They work quite well in fact.

        • lee colleton

          England has a much higher density of electric vehicle chargers than the state of California (estimated by eyeballing the maps).nnDoing 1000 miles is a weekend road trip for some. They wouldn’t have the patience for a week long trip.

          • Surya

            Sure, but I didn’t have to take a week either, I spent most of my time being on vacation, not driving around. If you really wanted to, doing a 1000 miles would be very doable in 2 days.nYou might have a point on the density, but I don’t think you need quick chargers every 50 miles. It is more than what is needed with today’s cars ranges.

          • lee colleton

            Funny you should mention it, but 50 miles is a stretch for my i-MiEV at freeway speeds. It will do the distance with the heater off but a 40 mile interval is more comfortable as that’s an 80% charge. CHAdeMO cuts off at 4/5ths to preserve the battery which doesn’t do as well when quick-charged to 100% because of overheating. I did drive across Washington and Oregon at an average speed of 30mph during the 2013 BC2BC so I know firsthand what’s involved.nnPerhaps we can wait a few years until battery costs come down. Perhaps it won’t be too late to turn the tide of climate change, then.

          • Surya

            Wops, I thougth 50 km and wrote 50 miles, sorry about that :)n50 km is about 30 miles, so the chargers are really not far apart. Most EVs would still manage those 50 miles at highway speeds, no? Mine would.

          • lee colleton

            I’m telling you; 40 miles (64 kilometers) is the maximum spacing for the i-MiEV to travel on the freeway. This is the interval throughout Oregon but Washington state is really designed to serve the LEAF. Even then, all of the chargers have to be working; a single failure can break the chain.

          • Surya

            You’re right of course. The iMiEV has a noticeably lower range than most other EVs which all have similar ranges to the LEAF. With the amount of 80 mile range EVs on the road it makes sense for the infrastructure builders to focus on those and fill in the gaps later, just like Tesla builds its superchargers to fit the 85 models range and it will probably fill in the gaps later on.

          • lee colleton

            Driving across Washington’s portion of the West Coast Electric Highway is uncomfortably exciting in an i-MiEV at times. Driving across Oregon is pleasant, even in a car designed for the city.

  • vdiv

    Maybe the desired sponsors (Nissan ant Tesla) felt that promoting electric cars on the West Coast is no longer necessary. With another recently completed, self-initiated and self-funded coast-to-coast 3600-mile Supercharging Across America Tesla has nothing to prove. Nissan’s DCFC infrastructure is not up to par to support such a trip for many cars.

    • lee colleton

      The infrastructure isn’t Nissan’s (even the chargers at their dealerships are locally owned and operated) so that’s not a fair comparison. Tesla’s SAA event was essentially an advertisement for their (excellent) product.nnThings like the BC2BC rally show in stark contrast the differences between both the vehicles themselves and also the types of charging infrastructure which makes such trips possible. It’s why I chose to deviate from the course of the 2013 rally and instead drive through California’s central valley. Though there weren’t many CHAdeMO stations along the way at that time it was far easier than driving through the southern coast range would have been for my i-MiEV.nnIt’s understandable that California wouldn’t want to draw attention to the shameful gap it’s left in the West Coast Electric Highway which effectively ends at the Oregon border. They’ve concentrated quick chargers in the Bay Area and Southern California, not enabled a state-wide transportation network for electric vehicles. Perhaps Nissan feels that their advertising dollars would be better spent elsewhere; I think they’re making a mistake. A big reason people don’t buy cars like the LEAF or the i-MiEV is the concern with taking road trips. If there were a state-wide DCFC network, it would fill that last 5% niche for the truely dedicated EV drivers and the rest would buy EVs thinking they’d use DCFC only to rent a combustion powered car for road trips when it came down to it.

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