OKEMOS, Mich. — Will Jones, Kyle Samluk and Danny Ezzo all have something in common.
“I’ve been interested in building things and fixing cars and stuff pretty much since I could,” Ezzo said.
“I’m super excited about electric vehicles and solar cars in particular,” said Jones.
“I guess I’ve been building solar cars for a while with Will too," Samluk said. "Which brings us to this.”
It brought them to the idea of a cross-country road trip from New York to Los Angeles.
“He was like ‘man it would be really awesome to build another solar car.’ and I was like you know, I was thinking about building another solar car as well,” Jones said.
With their background in cars and interest in a 1980's movie classic, they built the Pink Skies solar car.
“I said let’s do the cannonball run you know, it’s such a kind of, you know, pop culture event and something that just about everyone will recognize,” Jones said. “We’re going to do the same thing, but in a solar car. So, it’s going to be the cannonball sun.”
Between school and building, Ezzo said it was a lot of long nights and 14 hour days until completing the car seven months after they started.
“We had it laser cut and folded and then folded with a hydraulic press and then we riveted the whole chassis together,” said Jones.
The trio also made sure the car would be safe enough to travel the roads.
“We were able to simulate the car driving down the road in the computer and make sure that it would be safe and will actually hopefully get us to Los Angeles,” Jones said.
If there isn't any sun, they have a backup plan.
“Let’s say there’s like rain or it’s nighttime and we have to get from point A to point B, we’ve got batteries just in case,” Samluk said.
The battery can last for about 120 miles, but even if it's cloudy, Jones said the solar panels can still collect a decent amount of energy.
If you're traveling the highways you probably won't be lucky enough to see the vehicle on the road.
“It can go fast enough, but it’s an efficiency thing and the slower you go the more efficient you are and we’re trying to maximize our mileage per day," Jones said.
If you're traveling on backroads, you might get lucky.
“So, we won’t be on the interstate, but we’ll be on the two-lane rural back-roads,” said Jones.
Ezzo said he thinks this will be a good experience for all of them and all three are confident they'll make it.
“I’m confident I’d say,” Samluk said.
Once they make it to Los Angeles, Jones and Samluck will be headed to the Solar Car Challenge Race in Texas and Ezzo will be headed back to Michigan.
While some things on the road are unpredictable, one thing they do know is they'll all be relieved when they make it to their final destination.
“We can finally relax," Samluk said. "We’ll be pretty stressed until we finally park the car in the parking lot.”
The trio left for New York on Tuesday and will start their journey at the Red Ball Garage and go until they reach the Portofino hotel in Los Angeles.
If all goes according to plan, Jones said they could make it to California in 14 days.
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