When you bear in mind that the previous electric car speed record was set in 1974 by Battery Box General Electric, you might just begin to wonder why it is taken nearly 40 years to beat it. However, the previous record of 175 mph was smashed by the Drayson Racing team on Tuesday evening at the RAF Elvington race track in Yorkshire.
The Drayson Racing car, named Lola B12 69/EV, managed to reach a top speed of 204.2 mph to take the record. The vehicle was driven by chief executive Lord Drayson who was previously a minister in the Labour government before taking up the challenge of electric vehicle technology.
Lightweight electric car division
In order to qualify for an attempt at the FIA world electric land speed record the vehicle needed to weigh less than 1000 kg without the driver. The car in question, the Lola B12 69/EV, is an adapted Le Mans series car, which was originally designed with bio-ethanol fuel in mind. However, various parts were replaced for the electric vehicle world-record attempt to make it lighter and safe.
Quote from ElectricForum.com : "As the motor racing world continues to absorb the introduction of electric vehicles, this week it was confirmed that Drayson Racing Technologies is the first team to sign up for the Formula E Championship. Initially the company will help to develop a custom racing car for 2014, in conjunction with Spark Racing Technology and McLaren, with Formula E Holdings supplying these to the racing teams."
It is unclear why it has taken nearly 40 years for this record to be beaten but it does mark a significant stage in the development of electric vehicle technology. Indeed there are hopes that the technology used in the Drayson Racing vehicle can be transferred to the modern day electric car to improve efficiency and more importantly, journey capacity.
Will this new technology be commercially viable?
In many ways the attempt at the electric vehicle land speed record offered the perfect platform on which to demonstrate the significant improvements made in electric vehicle technology. This is an industry which attracts many different opinions and despite significant progress of late there are many who still doubt it will reach the mass market.
After a relatively uncomfortable start to the year the industry is now starting to make headway and the vast majority of headlines are more positive than ever before. Those involved in the industry need to be more proactive, more visible and ultimately carry the torch for the electric vehicle industry going forward. Governments, private investors, and even traditional motorists have now invested significant time and money in the industry and we are fast approaching a potential entry point for the mass market.
Motorists are more optimistic
While a recent report in the U.S. suggested that gasoline guzzling motorists would not consider investment in an electric vehicle until journey capacity reaches 300 miles per full charge, there is most certainly increased interest in electric cars. Such is the level of interest and influence at this moment in time that many politicians across the U.S. are now looking to check the progress of this groundbreaking industry.
We have seen the introduction of various electric vehicle taxes, attempts to stop the likes of Tesla selling direct to the motoring public, and indeed recent developments in New York saw senators asked to support a bill which would effectively bar Tesla from opening any new stores in the state. The very fact that the traditional car sector, supported by the oil industry, seems to see electric vehicles as a significant threat in the medium to longer term is perhaps the best appreciation of progress we have seen to date.