The owner was Susan Jones, founder of Xenon Motor Co. and Nashville Scooter Tours, companies that encourage and celebrate the use of electric vehicles. Though seemingly opposites, based on their riding choices, they struck up a conversation and became fast friends.
Eventually, Jones told Leffel about her vision of a record-making, 44-city, 44-day “electric parade” made up of environmentally conscious motorists out to make the world a better, less fossil-fuel-dependent place. “She’s one of those people who wants to save the world from the evils of gas emissions,” Leffel explains.
Though he didn’t consider himself an environmentalist, Leffel figured if there was a difference to be made, he should be a part of it. “If there’s a chance that we really are impacting the earth’s environment as much as scientists believe we are, I want to try to do something for my kids to have the same type of planet that I grew up in,” he says.
Along with his do-good spirit, Leffel was inspired by the challenge of doing something nobody had ever done. Determined to set the record for longest journey by electric vehicle and hoping to make a difference, he retired from his 28-year-long career at Nissan, borrowed an all-electric 2013 Nissan LEAF car from his former employer and buckled up. By July 2013, Leffel and the Nissan LEAF hit the road as starring members of the Ride the Future Tour.
Joining the parade were three other types of vehicles: an electric scooter, an electric motorcycle and an electric bicycle. A three-person film crew and four support personnel also hit the road. Leffel describes each member of the 11-person crew as a unique character and fondly remembers the “young bucks,” the passionate lobbyist and the funny Brit.