Effort to Set Speed Record for Electric Car Is Delayed by Winds, Mechanical Trouble


Our regular readers will remember that in June of 2004 the Primetime Electric Land Speed Team set off from their base in Northamptonshire to arrive at the Jerid Salt Flats on the edge of the Sahara Desert, Southern Tunisia.  That attempt was fated before the team left England, because freak weather conditions had ruined the desert surface.


It is testimony to their stamina, that despite last years setback, the team once again set off for another bash on a remote highway in Nevada.  Unfortunately, the team appear to have had more than their fair share of setbacks and we offer our heartfelt commiserations to the gallant team members.




Colin Fallows and Mark Newby in Tunisia 2004


In this photo provided by ABB, the "e=motion" electric vehicle is shown on the salt flats of Tunisia during a test session in June 2004. A British team plans to attempt to break the speed record for an electric car that has 52 batteries and no mechanical gears. Nevada agreed to shut down a state highway Thursday, May 5, 2005, for the torpedo-shaped car's attempt to top 300 mph.


ABC News Report WEST WENDOVER, NEVADA, May 5, 2005



Gusty winds and battery problems Thursday delayed a British team's attempt to break the speed record for electric-powered cars. The group planned to try again Friday.


The team is trying to eclipse the record for an electric car weighing more than 2,200 pounds by using a vehicle with 52 batteries and no mechanical gears.  Auxiliary batteries for the car's electronic controls lost their full charge, driver Mark Newby said. While those batteries were being recharged, winds that could blow the car off course picked up, forcing crew members to wait another day.  "It was a stupid, silly technical thing," Newby said of the battery glitch.


Nevada agreed to shut down a state highway for the torpedo-shaped car's attempt to top 300 mph which would shatter the old mark of 245 mph, set by an American team in 1999 using a similarly streamlined car powered by thousands of "AA" batteries.  That record was set on Utah's nearby Salt Flats, which are too wet at this time of year for speed racing.


Newby and Colin Fallows, both Britons already have accelerated their car to 146 mph in just 1,000 yards the longest, safest distance available to them in England. They say the test showed they can easily beat the world record.  The car uses compact, industrial motors and drives made by Swiss engineering company ABB Ltd.


Newby, 46, a pilot who does acrobatic maneuvers, will drive the car. Fallows, 54, a retired Royal Air Force propulsion technician, designed the car. Together they assembled the vehicle in a barn in the English countryside, using their own money from home equity loans.

"We think that at some point in the future, all cars will be electric, and we want to show you can go fast in an electric car," Newby said.


The "emotion" car has no mechanical gears, which are useful for acceleration but limit torque at top speeds. The car, using a variable speed transmission, is designed to top 300 mph on a pair of motors than can turn out 500 horsepower as much as a 2005 Chevrolet Corvette with a 7-liter, V8 engine.


Team Ends Bid for Electric Car Record - British Team Ends Bid to Break Speed Record for Electric-Powered Car After Three Days





Builder Colin Fallows sits on his car and driver Mark Newby scratches his head after failing to break a record with the British electric "e=motion" car Saturday, May 7, 2005, south of West Wendover, Nev. The attempt to set a new land speed record by an electric car was aborted a third time due to a circuitry problem. The vehicle will be shipped back to England to find out what went wrong.



SALT LAKE CITY May 7, 2005


The British team gave up its attempt Saturday to establish a speed record for an electric-powered car that wouldn't start for a third morning in a row along a stretch of highway in eastern Nevada.


The "emotion" car ran well in England and on a single practice run in the Nevada desert about 120 miles west of Salt Lake City, but then ran into a series of baffling electrical problems that keep it from firing up for the record attempt.


British driver Mark Newby, and the car's chief technician Colin Fallows, a retired Royal Air Force propulsion technician, said they planned to return a year from now to renew a bid to top 300 mph in a battery-powered vehicle.


Engineers working around the clock have been able to start the car in a warm garage, but it has been shorting out on the race course in the cool mornings after being towed on a flatbed truck to a remote stretch of Route 93A about 38 miles south of West Wendover, Nev., a small casino town just across the Utah state line.


First they blamed a battery problem, then condensation inside a drive controller, which sends battery power to the car's electric motors. On Saturday another problem surfaced a power spike that shut down a circuit board governing the controller unit. That unit sits in the nose cone of the 34-foot-long yellow car.


Insurance that the team took out and a permit to use a 7.2-mile stretch of state highway both expired on Saturday.




Emotion on Route 93a, West Wendover, Nevada, USA



The team was trying to eclipse the record for an electric car weighing more than 2,200 pounds by using a vehicle with 52 batteries and no mechanical gears.

Engineers for "emotion" sponsor ABB, a Swiss manufacturer of industrial motors and robots that supplied parts for the car, haven't been able to isolate the "electrical gremlins" or fix them.


ABB supplied a pair of industrial motors for the car that can be overworked for brief intervals turn out 500 horsepower as much power as a 2005 Chevrolet Corvette with a 7-liter, V8 engine. But getting power to those motors has proved troublesome.






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