Rick Denzien shows off his Model 3 that drove almost 13,000km across American and back. Supplied.
Rick Denzien shows off his Model 3 that drove almost 13,000km across American and back. Supplied.

In what is being billed as the longest music tour ever in an all-electric, zero emissions vehicle, two musicians have driven a Tesla Model 3 electric vehicle 13,000kms across the US and back as part of a mission to not only rock some tunes but also bring attention to sustainable transport.

Rick Denzien and Debra Lee, who call themselves the “Zero Emissions Musicians”, set out in their 2018 Model 3 from their hometown of Philadelphia on Christmas morning 2018, travelling to various recording sessions, concerts and workshops across the country until they reached California.

Their – dare we say it – “emissions mission” is to educate people about the affordability and benefits of sustainable choices and motivate others to make the move to solar power and electric mobility.

During their latest roadtrip, they made use of 50 Tesla superchargers, saving huge amounts of cash and CO2 as they went.

“We saved $1,000 in gasoline and oil on this trip, compared with an average gas car, and saved about 6,725 pounds of harmful exhaust emission from polluting the atmosphere,” said Denzien wrote in an email to The Driven.

For Australians, that’s about $A1,400 – and given “gasoline”, or petrol, is a lot cheaper in the States than here, a similar trip in Australia would save a lot more (and somewhat more difficult given there are no “cross-country” superchargers in Australia).

“The average cost per charge was $US4.60, roughly 80 percent less than to fuel up a gas car. We also stopped at destination chargers that remain free as the latest, coolest guest amenity for EV travelers,” says Denzien.

It’s not the first electric car the couple has owned – their very first EV was a Nissan Leaf purchased in 2013.

In total, Denzien says that they have travelled 120,000 miles (193,000km) without a single tailpipe carbon emission.

With EV charging stations very accessible across the USA, road trips have become the norm for the pair.

“Local charge stations are very accessible all around the Philadelphia area and easy to find with a Plug Share app.

“We toured regionally in the 2013 Leaf many times, which gets 100 plus miles per charge, to the Harrisburg area, the Jersey Shore, Poconos, Delaware, and Ithaca, New York, but this tour beat our previous longest EV tour by over 7,000 miles,” Denzien says.

The fuel and maintenance savings of driving electric even enabled the couple to install solar panels on their home in 2016, with which they now also charge their EVs.

“The $15,000 we’ve saved in gas was enough to fund most of our 14,000 watt home solar array which powers both EV cars (the Tesla and Nissan LEAF). EVs also cost less in general maintenance than gas cars, as there are approximately 3,000 less moving & ancillary parts,” he says.

The couple estimates that overall, their solar setup has produced 13 million watt hours of energy – that energy has also been used to power their music studio, where musician Michael G. Ronstadt has also recorded.

“It costs roughly 80 percent less to operate an EV over ICE or Internal Combustion Engine or gas vehicles. Lower income people pay a higher percentage of their income for ICE transportation as the cost of gas represents a regressive tax,” Denzien says.

Denzien and Lee’s next move will be working with a local event in Philadelphia, USA, to highlight Drive Electric Earth Week on April 20, 2019.

Their hope is to highlight not only the ecological, but also the financial benefits of electric mobility.

“Many working people who own gas cars, musicians and artists included, pay up to 90 percent of their income on gas. Driving all electric keeps money in their pockets.”

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