An EV Love Story

April Bolduc, S Curve Strategies

'Round the world in 80 days

Over the past few weeks I've gotten to know the people and passion behind the creation of the 80 Day Race.  It's an electric car race that will lap the world, and begin and end under the Eiffel Tower.  Have you been?  It's stunning.  It's romantic.  People have a love affair with Paris...I have a love affair with electric cars.  Mix the two and mind, blown.  


It's a crazy idea this 80 Day Race.  Gather 40 racing teams at a starting line, under one of the world's most iconic structures, and send them off in a competition to truly demonstrate what EVs are capable of.   These teams will have worked for months to be a part of what will be a sea of zero emission vehicles, heading out of Paris and carrying them "Around the World in 80 Days."  

The cars don't have the range.  And hello?  Oceans!  I'm clearly the only one in the room that needs to stop being so practical.  The answers to my questions have long been thought through.  

What about safety?  Each car is electronically monitored and penalized an entire day if they break any traffic rules.  What if they can't find a charger?  The race is about strategy, timing and innovation; routes are thoughtfully plotted and electric fuel is top of mind.  With eight major city stops planned around the world, what if the City of San Diego says they don't want to be the one host U.S. city?  There are five other U.S. cities who have already asked to take their place.  So, how DO these cars cross the oceans? (I'm asking for someone else I say.) The response is in unison: boats!  

a love story bares a brain child

Frank and Jenny met at a car race eight years ago.  And that was it.  They are Dutch and you pronounce her name Yenny.  Every time Frank says it, it's all kinds of awesome.  Their life adventures together have been built around the innovation of non-traditional, sustainable forms of racing.  Like, what do you get when you challenge a group of teenagers to tackle the Alps via moped as a school project?  A group of unprepared teenagers who built their own transportation for the trip of their lives -- and to this day can't stop talking about it.  Or a car race from Rotterdam to Rome on cooking oil.  These are the kinds of things that Frank and Jenny do together.  

In 2011, they found themselves sitting on the couch, heads tilted and eyes squinted as they watch the credits roll after watching Around the World in 80 Days.  And lightbulb.  They spark a conversation about a race around the world in 80 days...with no emissions.  Together, they put pen to paper and draft a four-page business plan.  In fact, they entered this business plan alongside 230 others in a competition by one of the world's largest consulting companies looking to fund innovative ideas.  

Company: "Hello Frank?  This is McKinsey & Company and 80 Day Race has been chosen as a finalist. Hello? Frank?"  

Frank: "Uh, yes sir, but we've only got the four pages."

Over the next few weeks Jenny and Frank build out their idea, and Jenny makes the pitch.  She's uncomfortable giving presentations.  In fact, she down right hates them.  The judges prove her point.  They challenge her at every step: your idea won't work; we need more detail; this will never happen with electric cars.  And point by point Jenny rocks it.  I can hear Frank now, "No one puts Yenny in a corner."  

Not only did Jenny make the case for their brain child, she's now leading the charge with her co-founding partner toward the 2019 starting line of the 80 Day Eiffel Tower start and finish, eight worldwide cities, and emission free.

April Bolduc