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Around the World in 80 Days, in a Tesla

Rafael de Mestre and his Tesla Roadster race around the world in 80 days, with a tip of the sombrero to Jules Verne and Elon Musk.

Rafael de Mestre started out with a simple idea: to become the first person to circumnavigate the earth in an electric vehicle. A Spanish-born German resident, Rafael would start and end his trip in Barcelona, Spain, sometime in 2013, passing through Europe, the United States, China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Romania, and then back through Europe to complete the journey. The idea was simple, but execution of the idea is not.

Things got even more complicated than expected when Rafael’s lawyer approached him and shared the web site of a French team who had already started their round-the-world odyssey in February. Rafeael realized that when only one car is driving around the world, it’s a drive. But when there’s two cars, it’s a race. And the race was on.

It began in April, when advisors told Rafael that it would take six months to plan for the trip, but he wanted to cut down the planning to only two weeks, meaning a May 1 departure. He’d be piloting his Tesla Roadster solo, while the French team has two drivers manning a Citroën C-Zero (its U.S. twin is the the Mitsubishi i, formerly the i-MiEV).

While in Spain, Rafael secured paperwork required for travel through Europe. When in Europe, he gathered all the paperwork needed to fly the car from Frankfurt to New York, and then to drive within the U.S. (passing through U.S. Customs, his Tesla was referred to as “luggage”). While in the U.S., plans were made to pass though China, Kazakhstan and back to Barcelona.


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