We headed to the Ford MAP (Michigan Assembly Plant), which would mark the completion of our re-creation of Roy Chapin’s journey. The toils and tribulations of our trip were nothing compared to Roy’s. We had a gps that marked any and everything coming up. Our anxiety over charging stations only meant that if a “fast” charger was not available, we would need to “slow” charge for a few more hours at someone’s wall receptacle. Roy was continually repairing tires, hand pumping them up every few miles (for four tires, that amounted to about 2000 tires he had to pump), and repairing his transmission and suspension. There were no road maps as there were no roads outside of the towns. When he arrived in a nick of time at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel for the New York Auto Show, he wasn’t allowed in due to his mud-covered state.
So, as we worried that we might runout of energy on our way to the MAP, we also realized that we would be able to text our contacts if any problems were to occur.
Our energy gauge showed that we had no extra miles for reaching the plant. We turned off the air conditioning which gave us a 6 mile margin for reaching our destination. Construction delayed us for a half hour, but we finally made it, driving pass the immense 500kilowatt solar panel field Ford built at the plant’s entrance.
A number of surprises met us when we pulled up. First, our reception committee applauded us as we emerged from the car. Ford MAP’s senior supervision greeted us. A television camera from Detroit’s WXYZ station (channel 7) started filming, and then……our biggest surprise….. we were introduced to Bill Chapin, President of the Automotive Hall of Fame and a grandson of Roy Chapin!
Bill and I spoke on camera as he interviewed me and asked about our trip. I told him that my grandfather worked for his grandfather at Hudson, and that we were really pleased to re-create his grandfather’s journey. Our journey now, as his was then, has been meant to be a demonstration of what is possible and necessary for the future of our country.
We thanked our Ford hosts for building a wonderful car, and I asked if I could get a commission for each one that I help sell. Ford gave us an excellent tour of their modern, clean, solar powered factory. The Michigan Assembly Plant is an amazing factory for many reasons. Its production lines are flexible, allowing various car models (conventional gas, hybrid and electric) to be built on the same production line. This allows the plant to shift production as the market dictates to emphasize whichever model is in most demand without re-tooling. We only caused three line shutdowns (just kidding…..anyone familiar with production lines knows this is a big,big no no). MAP is a clean, neat factory, as it needs to be. The mood was nice with a number of people saying hi while working hard at their stations. The plant was humming with hustle and bustle, as it will for many years to come.
We were brought to the area where finished cars are ready to exit the plant, and The Sun Catcher was sitting there at a charging station. It looked cool seeing our car in the place of its origin. We couldn’t take pictures in the plant, but I thought I detected a look of satisfaction on our car, knowing it had done something very special.
We want to thank Colleen and Amanda for their efforts in coordinating all of these activities. Also, we want to thank the Ford personnel who greeted us and took us on the plant tour. We appreciate your taking time out of your busy day!