From food trucks to electric RVs
Ben was a battery engineer at Tesla, fresh out of the production hell that came to define Tesla’s launch and ramp-up of the Tesla Model 3. Every day he visited the rodeo of food trucks that would descend on Tesla’s Palo Alto campus to provide employees with a convenient outdoor lunch.
The toxic fumes and noise coming from the food trucks’ gas generators felt deeply incongruous with the quiet, pristine atmosphere of the Palo Alto hills. From Ben’s perspective, food trucks didn’t need gas generators, which were not only noisy and smelly but also inefficient – putting out much more power and burning more gasoline than was needed to run their appliances. Food trucks could run all of their appliances with an electric power system, which would use only as much power as was needed.
The more he told people about his food truck project and desire to build a business with high impact and scale, the more RVing came up in conversation, and it became clear to Ben that RV camping and road tripping was the big blank canvas to explore within the world of electrification.
As COVID ramped up into a pandemic and everyone sheltered in place, Ben was desperate to leave his apartment. His antidote to isolation? A 6,000-mile cross-country RV trip - part business research, and part soul-searching opportunity. To him, road trips like this were the epitome of a good vacation - spending time in motion and in a variety of natural settings, meeting up with friends and great new people along the way.
However, there was the matter of his job. While he was excited about the chance to work on the next wave of vehicle electrification, quitting was no easy decision. A gnawing feeling told him that he needed time and space to build out his idea, which he wasn’t going to get by staying in place. Time wasn’t waiting, and the world was only getting weirder, so he threw caution to the wind, rented a Winnebago for the summer, and resigned.