(Phys.org) —EVs might be parked in people's minds as second cars of convenience, suitable for around-town errands and small-distance commutes. Forward thinkers are hoping to see EVs do their thing on long-distance travel while enthusiasts like the idea of exploring EVs in motorsports, to see what kinds of designs, materials and techniques can achieve better performance and speed. A car named Lola sits in the motorsports camp, and it has just set an electric land speed record for a lightweight electric car, achieving over 200 mph. Drayson Racing Technologies, the company behind the Lola B12 69/EV vehicle, made history this week at a racetrack at RAF Elvington in Yorkshire, England.
The team behind this lightweight electric powered car achieved a speed of 204.185 mph, a new world record for such a vehicle. Before that, the record was 175 mph, won by Battery Box General Electric in 1974. (Roger Hedlund won that record on the Bonneville Salt Flats in the US.)
The Kidlington, Oxfordshire company's chief executive, Lord Drayson, a former government Minister for Science and Innovation,.was behind the wheel of the Drayson vehicle. The company was founded in 2007. Its mission is to work with others to developer more sustainable automotive technologies. The company uses motorsport competitions as a way to focus its efforts. "We bridge the gap between research lab and commercial application- using the crucible of motorsport competition to promote and develop sustainable technologies," according to the company.
Their problem-solving skills were put to the test for a vehicle that could qualify to try for the electric land speed record. They had to deliver a car that weighed less than 2,204 pounds without the driver.
They answered the weight problem by modifying a Le Mans Series car. They replaced a bioethanol fuel engine and they used a lightweight battery pack that offered 850 horsepower. The chassis was made with recycled carbon fiber to minimize air friction. "Motorsport has always been the test bed for major automotive innovation," according to the company. "Nowhere else are components and new technologies tried, tested and proven under such extreme conditions as on the race track." But an auto analyst told the BBC there is another way to measure real human strides in making electronic cars more plausible. He said as far as making an EV faster, that was relatively straightforward. What's difficult is making EVs practical—-confronting the physics of how batteries store and release energy.
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