Couple charged up for Tesla-powered cross-county tour

Saanich couple will use one of the first Tesla X cars in Canada to pull a stylish teardrop-shaped trailer,

Silke Sommerfeld and Rolf Oetter

With one of the first Tesla X cars in Canada pulling a stylish teardrop-shaped trailer, Silke Sommerfeld and Rolf Oetter are getting a lot of notice.

And that’s just what they are hoping for, as they put a new spin on an old tradition, leaving work behind to drive an RV across the country. They picked up the idea at Tesla’s launch for the X in Fremont, Calif., where they saw an X pulling an Airstream trailer.

“It’s just not something you see being done, an electric car pulling a trailer,” Sommerfeld said.

They were already owners of a traditional recreational vehicle when they bought their first Tesla in 2014, a model S. After that, the North Quadra couple considered planning their next trip, and there was no way it would involve an old gas-powered RV, Sommerfeld said. They now pull an Alto trailer built by Safari Condo in Quebec with the Tesla X.

“We couldn’t go back to our RV. You get hooked on driving electric, it didn’t feel right to drive,” Sommerfeld said.

Instead, they’ve planned a three-month tour they’re calling Tesla X Canada. It’s self-publicized but it’s not affiliated or endorsed by Tesla. It kicks off with a launch party from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday at Island View Beach. They’re hoping for an electric vehicle convoy to the ferry sendoff.  And they’re gaining attention already.

The rig of car and trailer tested mighty popular during a routine stop at Elk Lake on Tuesday.

“The Tesla has a normal range of about 400 kilometres and can pull 5,000 pounds, while the trailer only weighs about 1,900 pounds,” Sommerfeld told one person.

Oetter then opened the falcon wing doors of the car (think Mercedes gull wings on steroids) and welcomed a group of triathletes, still wet from a training swim in the lake, to climb in. Others stepped inside the Alto trailer, which has solar panels affixed to a roof that elevates two feet on command to a height of over six-and-a-half feet. The trailer’s solar panels and custom fixed batteries will power the fridge and interior lights for the trip.

“We welcome all. It’s what we want to do, to build awareness that sustainable energy is here and we need to embrace it,” Sommerfeld said.

Oetter, 61, is a retired business owner who moved here from Germany and started the ShipConstructor software firm in Victoria, which employs 50 people. Sommerfeld, 45, was in banking and marketing, and will return to work when they come back. For now, they’re happy to share the Tesla, and the trailer, with Kye, a three-year-old golden lab cross.

“We’ll post our progress on the app Glympse for anyone who wants to see, and we’ll be updating our Facebook page about the upcoming stops so people can come and visit,” Oetter said. “And we’re inviting elective vehicle clubs to attend too.”

 

reporter@saanichnews.com

 

 

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