Editor’s Note: Our readers responded strongly to this story when it originally ran; we’re reposting it here in case you missed it.
I know that range improvements have made EVs more usable. I just don’t think this was how it was supposed to work.
On YouTube, one man was able to take his Tesla Model S on an 1,800-mile road trip recently — and he didn’t have to plug the thing in once!
The catch: The guy behind the trip put a 400-cc gas generator in the back of the car, one that was so loud it got the police called on him.
Matt Mikka, whose YouTube channel Warped Perception has over 1.2 million subscribers, has been known for his Tesla mods in the past.
According to Inside EVs, one of Mikka’s previous stunts involved putting jet engines on the back of the top-of-the-line Tesla to improve his acceleration. That’s probably not going to give him 1,800 miles of range without plugging in, though — not without attracting the attention of the police.
So Mikka put the one-cylinder, 0.4L engine where the rear window was supposed to be on his Tesla.
“If it actually works, I think it’s going to be crazy,” Mikka said near the top of the video.
Yes, one might be inclined to agree with him.
Mikka initially had planned to test the concept on a 1,600-mile road trip, although that eventually became 1,800 miles for an entire week. It worked, but not well.
First, a one-cylinder gas generator isn’t known for being quiet. At one point in his trip, as he stopped by Lake Michigan, Mikka noted that “the neighbors weren’t as excited as I was about my visit” because of the cacophony — and the police were called.
It wasn’t the only time law enforcement had to intervene; police pulled him over for going too slowly.
As Inside EV noted, that’s “because the engine he chose as a generator was relatively small — it couldn’t provide enough electricity to allow the Tesla to maintain higher speeds slightly above the legal limit without losing state of charge.”
“He frequently had to stop and let the car charge by the side of the road, usually with 2 percent left in the battery,” Inside EV reported.
The 13-horsepower engine was run continuously throughout the journey, yet Mikka had to do the trip at or below the speed limit because of limitations of the generator.
It also wasn’t terribly efficient. While it was difficult to gauge the number of miles per gallon because it was connected to an electric car in a rudimentary hybrid fashion, Mikka estimated he got only 14 miles per gallon driving at 80 mph and 24 miles per gallon at 50 mph.
“This was a cool build, but to me, it was basically useless,” he said. “It just didn’t have enough energy. I still had to stop and let the car charge itself up, which did not make me happy.”
Thus far, this has been the biggest problem with EVs. Even at fast charging stations, cars such as the Model S can take two hours or more to fill up. At home, it can take up to a day with a fast charger and the better part of a week with standard charging.
If you think this can just be worked around, consider a situation such as Hurricane Ian; when the storm changed course at the last minute, parts of Florida that didn’t think they would be hit hard issued evacuation orders less than 24 hours before the storm made landfall.
If you were an EV owner and didn’t have a full charge in your vehicle when the announcement was made, picture waiting until the last minute because you needed to squeeze every ounce of juice from your home charger — or taking your chances on the road with charging stations that likely are packed and might not have power anyway.
Elon Musk wouldn’t be happy about Mikka’s solution to the problem. Then again, neither would the legislators who want to ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles at some point in the 2030s.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.