DAY 19

Ft. Wayne, Indiana to Lansing, Michigan
Total Miles: 159

Progress Maps: Close Detail | USA View

left photo taken in Los Angeles 5/12/98

Right photo taken in Auburn, Indiana 5/30/98

Crossing the 3,000 mile mark on my Charge Across America
(the odometer reading is on the right side of the display)

My longtime hobby is collecting and restoring classic cars. I enjoy cars old and new, and am fascinated with the development and marketing of them. In the mid-1960's, Chrysler Corporation made a limited number of turbine-powered cars, and made them available to a carefully selected group of drivers throughout the country. Each family was allowed to drive the car for several weeks and were required to fill out daily evaluation forms. The distinctive styling and unique sound and performance characteristics of the turbine cars made instant celebrities out of those lucky enough to be chosen to evaluate them. Although Chrysler aggressively pursued turbine power development for several years, the program was eventually canceled. Due to federal regulations, the small fleet of prototypes was disabled and most were destroyed. A handful of the turbine cars remain in the hands of collectors and museums, and at least one has been restored to operational condition.

You must be wondering what this has to do with the EV1 electric car? In October 1993, GM decided to hand build 50 prototype Impact electric cars (the name has since been changed to EV1), and put them into the hands of select customers in cities across the nation for short periods of evaluation. Sounds exactly like the Chrysler turbine car program! As a teenager in the 60's, I was fascinated with the turbine cars and got a chance to see one of them in operation at my high school in Wichita, Kansas. The sound of that turbine power plant was unforgettable, and I wish I had been lucky enough to be one of the evaluation drivers. When the GM PrEView Drive was announced, the Los Angeles Times ran an article giving information about applying for the program. At last I might have MY chance to be a test driver of the car of the future! I answered all the questions on the form in a way I was CERTAIN would qualify me. 60,000 other people in Los Angeles had the same idea, and I was informed that I would not be one of the local participants. I never guessed at the time that I would eventually have one in my garage some day and be driving the first EV1 on a 3,000 mile cross country trip without burning a drop of gasoline as I am now.

Now you must be wondering what the heck this has to do with Charge Across America. Remember Pam Seymore who was my savior in Arizona? Pam and Arizona Public Service were involved with the PrEView program in Phoenix. She was closely connected to the GM representatives who helped coordinate the placement of the Impact electric cars with the chosen test drivers. One of these GM specialists was Jim Morken. When the PrEView program ended, Jim assumed other duties with Delco Electronics. Pam told Jim about my cross country EV1 adventure, and Jim enthusiastically invited me to visit him at his lakeside home in northern Indiana. Since Fremont is on my route just off of Interstate 69 near the Michigan border, I jumped at Jim's invitation. I'd be needing a charge after leaving Ft. Wayne anyway, and Fremont would be the perfect place.

On the way to Fremont, I decided on the spur of the moment to exit I-69 at Auburn, Indiana. As I mentioned earlier, I love classic cars and Auburn is the home of the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum. These magnificent automobiles were purchased by society's elite in the 1920's and 30's, and command million dollar plus price tags today. I thought I'd stop for a few moments and do a brief whirlwind tour. As I was taking photos in front of the museum, a voice called out "Kris Trexler!" I looked up and was shocked to see an old friend and colleague from the early days of my Los Angeles television career. Lee Padgett was as shocked to see me as I was to see him. It turned out that he and his wife had left Los Angeles a few days after my departure on their own leisurely cross-country driving vacation. They had read stories about my trip in both the Los Angeles Times and an Orange County newspaper as well seeing television news reports. What are the chances that we'd run into each other here in Auburn, Indiana? Because I didn't want to be too late for my appointment with Jim Morken in Fremont, Lee and I chatted only briefly with a promise to swap stories about our trips back in Los Angeles. I quickly viewed the cars in the museum, then resumed my northerly drive on I-69. Just as I neared the entrance ramp to the freeway, my odometer indicated that I had traveled exactly 3,000 miles since leaving Los Angeles on May 12.

Just a couple of miles south of the Michigan border, Jim Morken's home sits right next to a beautiful lake. Pokagon State Park is a few yards to the south. Jim was an extraordinarily gracious host, and wasted no time connecting my charger's adapter cable into his home's electric breaker panel. It was obvious that Jim knew what he was doing with the panel. He had plenty of experience dealing with such panels at the homes of PrEView drivers during the test program. Jim was the equivalent of the "EV1 Specialists" that are assigned to current EV1 lessees like myself. Much as the current Specialists do, Jim handled charger wiring issues with local utilities and driver education with the operation of the electric car. The PrEView Drive was conducted in cities across the country, and Jim obviously had very fond memories of his association with the electric car program. He had the opportunity to relocate "out west" when full-fledged EV1 test marketing was initiated in 1996, but Jim loves Indiana and decided to pass up the opportunity. He was obviously thrilled to have my EV1 charging up on his lawn, and we became fast friends. I was fascinated with Jim's memorabilia from the PrEView days, and it was hard to leave when my charging time was finished.


Shortly after leaving Jim's home, I crossed the Michigan border. With 3,000+ miles on the odometer since leaving L.A., I was getting near my final destination. Michigan is "the motherland" to an automotive buff like me, and I was elated that I had made it to the "Great Lakes State" without so much as a tiny problem with my EV1.

My next charging stop was in Marshall, Michigan. Unfortunately, the tire shop where my charging needs had been arranged was unable to supply 30 amp 220 volt service. They had a 20 amp outlet which wouldn't be sufficient to operate my 6.6 kW charger. The helpful mechanics called a nearby Shell service station where my needs would be met. I drove 2 miles to the Shell station only to find out that the person who had offered to help was incorrect about his electrical service. There was no 220 volt outlet of any kind at the Shell station. With very little charge remaining in my batteries, I once again turned to my favorite source of a charge, the local fire station. Captain Terry Travis of the Marshall Fire Department eagerly offered the use of the station's 30 amp dryer outlet. After 70 minutes on the charger, my EV1 was ready to head back onto I-69.

When I took delivery of my EV1 on December 5, 1996, several representatives of GM and Saturn were present in southern California to help deliver the first few EV1's on introduction day. I met Tim Driver, President of United Auto Workers Local 1618, the union that represents workers at the Lansing Craft Centre where the EV1 is assembled. In August of 1997, I flew to Lansing, Michigan to attend the 100th Anniversary Celebration of Oldsmobile. As a collector of classic cars, I couldn't resist the birthday party of this famous marque. I called Tim Driver to request a tour of the Craft Centre. I wanted to see the unique factory where my EV1 was virtually hand-built. On the August '97 day that I toured the plant, I mentioned to Tim and craftsman John Shaw that I was thinking of driving my EV1 from Los Angeles to Michigan. It was obvious that they weren't taking me seriously back then, but as my plan began to gain momentum, I called to let these fellows know I really would be passing through Lansing on May 30 and would love to visit them again. I won't forget the look on Tim Driver's face as I drove my EV1 up to the security gate at the Lansing Craft Centre today. As I had seen in Indianapolis, the folks associated with the EV1 are very proud of their creation. That I'd made it over 3,000 miles back to the plant where the car was born was the ultimate compliment to Tim and his team in Lansing.

left to right: Tim Driver, John Shaw, Cody Shaw,
Kris Trexler, Terry Rittenburg, Gary Fergeson

foreground: assembled "spaceframe" chassis for the first "pilot" production EV1 for the 1999 model year

Gen-2 inverter assembly ready for installation in the pilot car. This new unit is smaller than the gen-1 unit.
Because this was a Saturday and the workers were off, I didn't get to see the assembly process. That will have to wait until the generation-2 EV1's start rolling off the line in a few weeks - I'll have to come back to see how this intimate team makes the most technologically sophisticated car GM has ever produced. I did see the assembled chassis for the first "pilot" production car for the 1999 model EV1 (dubbed "generation 2"). Photos of my previous visit to the Lansing Craft Centre are available for viewing on the EV1 Club website.

We connected my EV1 to one of the MagneChargers in the factory, then John Shaw, Terry Rittenburg, John's son Cody and friend Gary Fergeson and I headed off to a Lansing eatery. A vicious storm raged early the next morning that dropped large hail in the Lansing area and caused power outages throughout Michigan. I'm glad my car spent the night inside the factory where it was built.

Tomorrow will be a short driving day as I head east to the Detroit area where my adventure will soon conclude.

Trip Log



Stop #1

Stop #2

Stop #3

Town or City

Ft. Wayne, IN

Fremont, IN

Marshall, MI

Lansing, MI











Trip Odometer





Driving Notes

Saw numerous vintage vehicles on highway. Stopped at Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum in Auburn. Went over 3,000 trip miles in Auburn.


First location - no 30 amp 220v. Second location (referred by first) - no 220v. Third location - city fire station - 30 amp dryer outlet

Overnight charging at the assembly plant where car was built.

Grades Encountered





Charging Information

Charge Start Time


11:45 AM

4:35 PM


Charge End Time


12:55 PM

5:45 PM


Charge Duration


1h 10m

1h 10m


Charging Facility

Best Western Luxbury

Morken residence

Marshall Fire Department

Lansing Craft Centre

Contact Name


Jim Morken

Captain Terry Travis

John Shaw/Tim Driver

Charger Type





Charge Indicator
(In Bars/11=100%)

2 start/9 finish

1 start/11 finish

2 start/7 finish

2 start/11 finish

Charge Start (%)





Charge Stop (%)





Ambient Temp (°F)
Weather Conditions





Approx. Miles to Next Charging Stop
and Known Grades

56 miles - flat

52 miles


73 miles - flat

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