The New American Road Trip is an 11 day, more than 2,900-mile journey with an electric vehicle from San Francisco to New York’s 10th Climate Week and the One Planet Summit to inform and discuss with the public the Call to Global Climate Action issued from the Global Climate Action Summit

Road Trip Update: Brief Homecoming at the Chevy Bolt EV Factory in Michigan for our Cute Electric Car Before Heading to Pittsburg to Meet Mayor Peduto

By Nick Nuttall, Global Climate Action Summit

24 September 2019. Yesterday, the New American Road Trip popped into the General Motors assembly plant in Orion, Michigan where our Bolt EV, that has taken us thousands of miles across the United States, was built.

It felt a little like a post-birth baby shower, celebrating the return home of a new-born. In the parking lot, members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 5960 lined up with managers to greet their offspring, eager to learn at firsthand about all of the places the car and the team had been since departing the Global Climate Action Summit in California.

Many gathered around, asking questions about the Bolt EV’s performance, how often we needed to charge and the kind of mileage we had been getting.

“200+plus miles, depending on how many in the car, whether its up or downhill and who is driving,” I said noting that one of our drivers likes to put the car through its paces, flooring the accelerator and ‘burning up the electrons’ meaning we get a bit less between charges.

Gary Wurtz, a worker in the plant and Team Leader in the Trim Shop, asked me how comfortable the car was as, among his responsibilities, are the BoltEV’s seats.

“Fine, very comfortable—I have spent many hours in the back tapping out our Road Trip Update. Lots of room for a compact,” I reflected, with Gary smiling, clearly proud and satisfied.

Jim Quick, the plant director, said the company was committed to ramping up Electric Vehicles (EVs) with a vision of zero.

“We are creating a world with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion; we believe in a vision of an all-electric future, driven by battery electric and fuel cell electric technologies,” said Jim.

The company, which is planning an expansion of Bolt EV and battery production to meet global demand, is also testing a car with shorter charging times.

“We know our customers want shorter charging times, and we’re applying our technical savvy to help achieve this. One example: we’ll deliver a prototype vehicle capable of a 180-mile range with less than 10 minutes of charging to Delta Electronics for official testing as part of a new U.S. Department of Energy initiative,” said Jim.

“We had not yet got around to tornado, stress-testing the car—so thanks for doing that,” he quipped, referring to the moment in Kansas a few days before when we drove through some very heavy Tornado-like weather from which the Bolt EV emerged pretty much unscathed.

I was invited to explain the role of the Global Climate Action Summit, emphasizing the EV commitments made by so many states and regions, cities and companies to invest in EV fleets and buses.

Later, chatting in the sunshine, some of the autoworkers wanted to hear first hand about the journey that began even longer ago.

So, I talked about the 1992 and the Rio Earth Summit where the UN Climate Treaty was born and how millions of people from all over the world worked to eventually secure the universal Paris Climate Change Agreement of 2015 as a key factor driving policy and technological change for the better in the United State and across the globe.

Many of the plant’s workers also signed the cloth, emblazoned with the GCAS logo, which we are bringing to the 10th Climate Week in New York this week.

Popping into the town of Lake Orion to buy some drinks and other refreshments, we were reminded just how small and interconnected the world is.

I got chatting to two ladies behind the tills who were intrigued by our car and I outlined stops on our journey including the BYD Motor Company in Lancaster, California where they are building electric buses and generating new, decent, jobs.

“OMG,” said one of them, “that is where my uncle is working and he really loves it,” adding that her uncle had been out of work for a while but that the E-bus company had thrown him a much-needed employment life line.

Today it is Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for our fifth major event and to meet more amazing people, unsung climate heroes and Mayor William Peduto.

The New American Road Trip is being organized by Purpose with support from foundations including Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Hewlett Foundation, the JPB Foundation, the IKEA Foundation and Climate Works Foundation. Follow the progress of the road trip online here.

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