Saturday, July 17, 2010

Worlds Fastest Electric Car

From Winnipeg Free Press

World's fastest electric car makes Vancouver pit stop on 26,000-km journey

By: The Canadian Press
16/07/2010 6:18 PM

VANCOUVER - The bugs are "disgusting" and the police have been pesky, but overall a team of students from Imperial College London are having the adventure of a lifetime showing off one of the world's fastest electric cars.

The Racing Green Endurance team left Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, on July 4 bound for Argentina on a 26,000-kilometre trip to generate some excitement about electric cars.

The sleek, low-slung vehicle looks better suited to a race track than the bumpy highway between Alaska and British Columbia. There's no top or windshield, leaving only a helmet between the driver and the bugs.

Andy Hadland, the team's public relations director, said he was thankful for the head gear after his first turn behind the wheel.

"After every trip you're wiping off the helmet. It's kind of red, yellow, brown, it's a little disgusting actually."

The team has also been pulled over several times by police officers who were both curious and suspicious.

"What makes you think you can drive a car like this legally in Canada?" Hadland said, dropping his British accent to imitate the officers who have pulled them over.

He said once they satisfy the officers' curiosity and show them the car is insured for the road, they've been allowed to move on.

Other than being surrounded by a herd of bison early one morning and one blown fuse in the vehicle, the trip has been uneventful, Hadland said during a short pit stop in Vancouver on Friday.

Yet, to his surprise, the journey has been tiring.

"I knew it would be hard work, but it's not as much of a holiday as I expected," he said, still smiling.

The 400-horsepower vehicle can reach speeds of up to 200 km/h and will go more than 400 kilometres on one charge, but takes eight hours to recharge from completely empty.

Its two electric motors in the rear of the car are powered by lithium iron phosphate batteries that account for almost half of the total 1,180 kilograms of the fibreglass vehicle.

The goal is to drive 26,000 kilometres, through 14 countries in 84 days with the hope of convincing the public that electric vehicles aren't the highway pariahs they once were.

"Part of what they want do is change this perception of electric cars as being slow kind of grandma's car," said Lorne Burns, of KPMG, the company sponsoring the team's journey. "This is anything but Grandma's car. This thing's fast, it's cool."

Even though Hadland, who isn't overly tall, has to fold himself into the vehicle's tiny interior when it's his turn to drive, he said there are few drawbacks to the vehicle.

It's fun to drive, cheap to run, there are no emissions, and the air is cleaner, he said.

"You've got 100 per cent torque, 100 per cent of the time. That means you've always got full power whenever you want to put your foot down," he said.

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