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UK Students Build Electric Car With 248-Mile Range

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the helmets-and-goggles dept.

Power 192

da_how writes "A group of students and graduates at Imperial College London have built an electric car with a massive range — 248+ miles on a charge at 'reasonable' highway speeds (60 mph). They did this by filling the car to the absolute max with as many lithium iron phosphate batteries as possible — 56 kWh — and designing a very efficient direct drive powertrain, about 90% batteries-to-wheels at highway speeds. The choice of vehicle is an interesting one: it's a converted Radical SR8 — a track racing car with a speed record on the Nurburgring. Not an obvious contender for an endurance vehicle (no windscreen either!) — but then they claim it's lightweight to start with, being constructed of steel space frame and glass fiber. Also, Radical is based in the UK and provided some help and sponsorship. The students plan to drive their 'SRZero' 15,000 miles down the Pan American Highway, beginning July 8 in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, and ending up in Tierra Del Fuego three month later. That's about 60 charges."

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That made the hair on my neck stand up.... (2, Funny)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404240)

It's positively electrifying!

Come on, that's puntastic!

Re:That made the hair on my neck stand up.... (2, Funny)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404414)

That was revolting.

Re:That made the hair on my neck stand up.... (3, Funny)

deniable (76198) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404466)

I'm afraid you'll meet a great deal of resistance.

Re:That made the hair on my neck stand up.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32404552)

Not if you make wise use of your potential and swim with the current and go with the flow until you've completed your work and gone to ground.

Re:That made the hair on my neck stand up.... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32404796)

Your resistance only makes my penis harder!

Icanhasrecharge? (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#32405716)

ohm ohm ohm ohm.

Sorry

Re:That made the hair on my neck stand up.... (2, Funny)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 4 years ago | (#32405150)

Thats a shocking pun.

Re:That made the hair on my neck stand up.... (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 4 years ago | (#32405886)

These students could take their car...

...to the racing circuit.

YEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!

So instead of a monster gas tank (1, Insightful)

Kitkoan (1719118) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404250)

They made a monster battery to get a large mile range. That to me doesn't seem very functional since its still using the same tech, just a bigger fuel supply.

Re:So instead of a monster gas tank (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404332)

That's something called "proof of concept".

Re:So instead of a monster gas tank (4, Insightful)

Kitkoan (1719118) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404366)

That's something called "proof of concept".

What is the 'proof of concept' here? That if you make a bigger fuel tank you'll be able to go further? Sorry, but electric cars have been around for years. You can buy your own from Tesla Motors. [teslamotors.com]

Re:So instead of a monster gas tank (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32404370)

We all get the concept. What we are waiting for is a practical solution.

Re:So instead of a monster gas tank (4, Funny)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404402)

Some things really don't need to be proven. Sometimes, you can just apply a bit of simple logic to determine whether an idea is plausible.

Though, maybe I should propose to my boss that we experiment with my salary. If he increases it, I think I'll receive more money. But, just to be sure, we should do a proof of concept thing. Say a 50% bump just to try it out and see if it really works. If that works, we can do a 200% bump and let it run for a few years. If I'm still getting more money 5 years from now, we'll have proven the concept.

Re:So instead of a monster gas tank (5, Insightful)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404560)

Not a bad experiment.

You'd be instantly first on the list of "people to fire when we need to reduce costs" and wouldn't probably reach the fifth year, disproving the concept.

Re:So instead of a monster gas tank (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404494)

Bigger battery = go further, a concept proved by submarines in WWI. I'm sure I could also make an iPad reference here.

Re:So instead of a monster gas tank (3, Insightful)

Eivind (15695) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404506)

So what -does- it prove ? That if you stuff a lightweight car to the top with batteries, then you've got 50Kwh worth of energy, or an amount comparable to the energy in 1.5 gallons of gas. Sure, electric drivetrains are more efficient, so this gives the car the range of perhaps 3 gallons of gas. But at the cost of having no space for storage, and of making the car hundreds of kilos heavier.

If you stuffed a 18-wheeler with batteries, and drove it at 40mph, it'd go a fair distance too, but it wouldn't be terribly useful, the entire point of 18-wheelers is to have space for CARGO.

Re:So instead of a monster gas tank (2, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#32405042)

It proves there are lots of people/companies willing to give students money for doing stuff that's rather useless from a scientific and practical viewpoint.

I'd like to see how they handle practical stuff like "air conditioning". If they think that's not important, then that's yet another reason why their car is not important. A college student might put up with 35C or higher temperatures on that "cool trip", most car buyers won't. A 3-4 kilowatt car air conditioner is going to hurt an EV's range a lot more than a fossil fuel powered one.

I'm sure you'd be able to get a "normal car" to travel the same journey for cheaper, faster and in better comfort.

Anyway if the battery costs drop and capacities increase, we'd see more electric cars. To me, Nissan is the one that's doing useful stuff - apparently they've got battery costs down to USD375 per kWh: http://gas2.org/2010/05/05/report-nissan-leafs-battery-costs-a-staggeringly-cheap-375kwh-to-produce/ [gas2.org]

What Nissan is doing is far more useful than a bunch of students going from Alaska to Argentina. Computer analogy (instead of car analogy ;): the former are like Intel/AMD - actually pushing the tech, the latter are just a bunch of case modders.

Re:So instead of a monster gas tank (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404390)

Next record, an eighteen wheeler. Or a train, rolling on the highway with truck wheels and six hundred tons of batteries.

Thinking of electric trains and mileage records. There must be some ideas about charging the electric cars on the highway without having to stop. Something like a third rail.

Re:So instead of a monster gas tank (2, Informative)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404420)

In Germany (and probably most of Europe) we use wires hung above the tracks, not a third rail.

Re:So instead of a monster gas tank (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404828)

This is how it's done in the US too (at least in the Philadelphia area). Can't say I've ever seen a 3rd rail used at all.

Re:So instead of a monster gas tank (2, Informative)

bhima (46039) | more than 4 years ago | (#32405124)

MARTA, the public transit light rail in Atlanta uses a 3rd rail.

Re:So instead of a monster gas tank (1)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404842)

Ditto in most of Australia (although only in urban areas - longer haul/remote areas will tend to use good old fashioned diesel fuel).

Re:So instead of a monster gas tank (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404932)

My use of "third rail" (being european myself) comes from the inability to find a better expression that said "power's in the medium rather than in the vehicle".

"wires hung above the tracks" was longer and less clear.

Possibly a better grasp of the English language would've given me a nice alternative like... (googling)... Overhead wires.

(+0: Self-informative)

Re:So instead of a monster gas tank (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32405142)

Main-line buses in Bratislava use a similar overhead wire system to that of a train or trolley.

Re:So instead of a monster gas tank (3, Funny)

Cylix (55374) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404460)

I'm going to go with the mid flight refueling concept here. However, that is a bit awkward for highway driving and we'll need to stream line the process. Stay with me here....

Really, there is enough coverage across the body of the car that we can use this as a wide area positive terminal. It's really straight forward and we don't need to mess around with large complicated tubes. (Tubes are what screwed up the internet. I read it on slashdot.)

We can tie the body directly into a series of high yield capacitors as a quick staging area for the power burst. This array can connect to the charging mechanism that can safely deliver the power to the the lion batteries. (Remember where I said stay with me... keep at it).

For the final piece of the puzzle to really make it work and give it that McDonalds on the free way touch we'll need a large platform vehicle. All along the bed will be tesla coils ready to charge the next vehicle that pulls in. These charging stations can optionally be installed in toll booth or bridge locations as well.

With some simple license plate recognize we can easily bill the charge to the motorist at the end of the month.

Now, we have a practical electrical car design that will also eliminate both the homeless and bug populations.

I remember my college days... (1)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404296)

....when me and some friends would get into our old beaten-up Radical SR8, pack some lithium-ion batteries and do the great American Road Trip in 248 mile bursts.

I just gave you some of the future right there.

What the article doesn't mention.... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32404314)

One thing glaringly missing from the article is the cost of the battery pack. On the open market right now, 56kWh of LiFePO4 cells runs a bit over US$120,000.

Re:What the article doesn't mention.... (4, Funny)

deniable (76198) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404574)

Well, somebody did call it a Monster battery. The price fits.

Re:What the article doesn't mention.... (1)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 4 years ago | (#32405340)

Getting storage of power to be lighter is the biggest challenge. I think once you achieve that goal the next two are making it affordable, making it environmentally sound (what good is a 'green' car if the batteries aren't) and finally making it safe. Having such a lot of energy in batteries means a lot of danger in the event of a big accident.

All the way down? (3, Informative)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404324)

15,000 miles down the Pan American Highway

      They should do a little more research, as I wish them luck getting across the Darien Gap. There IS no highway from Panama to Colombia - they'll have to take the ferry like everyone else.

Re:All the way down? (3, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404428)

Apparently they did a bit of research; from the article:

UPDATE: 1:30 p.m. Eastern: As to the question some of you have about how the team will navigate the Darien Gap, it plans to ship the car around the gap, and they've met with ambassadors to Panama and Columbia to line up the required visas.

Seems like they wanted to take a summer trip and figured out a way to get someone else to pay for it. Not a bad deal.

Re:All the way down? (1, Insightful)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404610)

Seems like they wanted to take a summer trip and figured out a way to get someone else to pay for it. Not a bad deal.

And made the common mistake of ignoring the productivity of their work. Spending as much time in any other job would've paid the trip with less risk involved.

Yes, I know there are other benefits to their way. At the very least they can automatically beat any "I just came back from Chile" with their "I just came back from a trans-american road trip in an electric car I built with some other cool friends". We all know which one's gonna get the girl. In the pub next to the engineering faculty, of course.

Re:All the way down? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404686)

Spending as much time in any other job would've paid the trip with less risk involved.

      Especially if anyone in Central/South America finds out exactly how much all those batteries are worth.

      "What car, gringo? I diden see no car"

Re:All the way down? (1)

Klinky (636952) | more than 4 years ago | (#32405208)

Yeesh, what job on the market lets you build an electric race car and drive the Pan-American HWY? I bet they'd wish they took your offer and were in a stuffy lab or pushing numbers/code in a cubicle all summer rather than going on an adventure and trying to pick-up South American chicks...

Something like this would look great on a resume anyways.

Re:All the way down? (2, Funny)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404852)

Seems like they wanted to take a summer trip and figured out a way to get someone else to pay for it. Not a bad deal.

Haha - suckers. Someone forgot to inform them that it is, in fact, winter down here in the southern hemisphere (so only the first half of their trip will be 'summer') ;)

Re:All the way down? (1)

rrhal (88665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404580)

I'm pretty sure there are places on the Dalton Highway where handy plug-ins might be a little scarcer than they bargained for. Headlights are mandatory 24/7/365 and road surface is quite rough - not going to get 248 miles per charge here. They are starting July 8th so the temperatures will well above zero. Most of the trip should be 60's and 70's (degrees F) - roughly room temp for the Celsius inclined.

Re:All the way down? (3, Insightful)

TheNarrator (200498) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404600)

The Dalton Highway, from Prudhoe Bay to Fairbanks, is unpaved. They might want a little more ground clearance than the car pictured in the article.

Re:All the way down? (2, Informative)

Chuq (8564) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404740)

Ferry routes which are part of a longer highway route as often referred to as part of the highway - "sea highways" or "virtual highways" are common terms.

Re:All the way down? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32404874)

You might want to update this page with information about that ferry.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucera_Express

Re:All the way down? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32405412)

Would I be right in thinking that the students aren't BLACK?

How did I know that?

Because the average IQ of blacks is 70. So they cannot produce something like this. Does it matter to you? It will when they are the MAJORITY in YOUR country.

greener (0, Troll)

taherk (1106819) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404344)

With electric cars taking over , I thik we are heading for greener tomorrow. http://itdiscover.com/ [itdiscover.com]

248 mile range? Big deal. (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404358)

The Tesla Roadster has a 245 mile range. And basic stuff like bumpers.

The student car looks like it has about a 3 inch ground clearance. If that. That's not going to get very far on anything less than a perfect road. And they want to drive it down from Prudhoe Bay? Right.

Re:248 mile range? Big deal. (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404448)

Better than ground clearance, how well do batteries do in extreme cold? I remember batteries dying fast in the cold. Could be wrong.

Re:248 mile range? Big deal. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404484)

The big battery packs on the Tesla need active cooling so they might be okay in the north.

Re:248 mile range? Big deal. (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404752)

The big battery packs on the Tesla need active cooling so they might be okay in the north.

Until you need to start moving again.

Most vehicles up north have block heaters which require them to be plugged in when the engine isn't running. It would not be too surprising to find a battery heater is also required.

Re:248 mile range? Big deal. (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 4 years ago | (#32405020)

It would not be too surprising to find a battery heater is also required.

If only they had a battery powered heater.

Re:248 mile range? Big deal. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#32405466)

A charger makes a pretty good heater so if they charge when stopped they should be okay.

Re:248 mile range? Big deal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32405734)

They have block heaters to heat the engine block. Not the battery (and car 12v batteries are lead acid, which has completely different properties from the batteries used here and in the Tesla). Note that the person you're responding to said the batteries need active cooling. This includes while stopped; you can hear the fans cooling the batteries while parked in a parking lot (not charging). I imagine they'd love the northern, cooler regions (I live near San Francisco, so even our winters don't get that cold, and my Tesla was still cooling the batteries)

Re:248 mile range? Big deal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32404590)

Better than batteries, how will the driver(s) cope with extreme cold?

This is an open-cockpit race car (which also means it probably doesn't have any "climate control").

Re:248 mile range? Big deal. (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404962)

A nice thick coat, warm gloves and a hot water bottle.

Re:248 mile range? Big deal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32405418)

Actually, lithium ion batteries prefer to be kept in a refrigerator or freezer to being any warm. they hate it when it gets hot.

Re:248 mile range? Big deal. (4, Interesting)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404522)

Where are they going to recharge?

"There are only three towns along the route: Coldfoot (population 13) at Mile 175, Wiseman (population 22) at Mile 188, and Deadhorse (25 permanent residents, 3,500-5,000 or more seasonal residents depending on oil production) at the end of the highway at Mile 414.Gas is available at the Yukon River bridge (Mile 56), as well as Coldfoot and Deadhorse."

I see a gap of 239 miles and a 4700 foot pass, no way you can get maximum milage on a pass

Re:248 mile range? Big deal. (3, Informative)

hackerjoe (159094) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404688)

248 miles is measured using the EPA test, which includes a lot of braking. On open highway alone, they'll do better. Besides, they might not get wonderful mileage in a pass, but with regenerative braking on the downhills, they won't be as affected by it as a gas powered car.

I just drove through the rockies in a second-gen Prius, and the regenerative braking seemed to do a pretty good job of smoothing out the consumption: I'd get worse consumption on the uphill and better on the downhill, and it seemed to average out to just the same as what I got on the flat; within 10% if you believe the meter in the car.

Re:248 mile range? Big deal. (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404968)

Well, the Dalton Highway isn't open highway and with the clearance that thing has, well I wouldn't do it in my Monte Carlo and it has at least twice the clearance the car in the Wired photos has.

Re:248 mile range? Big deal. (1)

David Off (101038) | more than 4 years ago | (#32405290)

I see a gap of 239 miles and a 4700 foot pass, no way you can get maximum milage on a pass

That might be an issue depending on the grade. It has a direct drive powertrain like most electric bike. Electric bikes are generally wound for town cruising speeds (25km) and the motors are prone to overheating and powerloss climbing steeper grades, electric bikes used in the hills are often powered at the crank to use the bike's gears. Sounds like they will have similar problems without a gearbox.

Re:248 mile range? Big deal. (1)

sinorichard (1822862) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404526)

seems good

Re:248 mile range? Big deal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32404668)

Pretty much.

Hell, imagine if someone invented the most unsafe car ever that gets a billion miles in a single charge with a max speed of 1000mph.

Shit, just a max speed of 1000mph probably makes it the most unsafe car ever. Hit a rock on the ground at that speed and hello air time.

Re:248 mile range? Big deal. (1)

flimflammer (956759) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404720)

If you watched the video in the article, the people already realize the car needs to be lifted to increase the clearance.

Re:248 mile range? Big deal. (1)

Cryp2Nite (67224) | more than 4 years ago | (#32405048)

As far as I know the current distance record is held by the Japan Electric Vehicle Club with 623.76 miles on a single charge:

http://www.physorg.com/news194158832.html [physorg.com]

It even has bumpers and some ground clearance.

Re:248 mile range? Big deal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32405052)

basic stuff like bumpers.

By the time their car will meet all safety regulations to drive on public roads (EU, US, etc.), they'll end up with a lot less mileage.

If they'd ever get that thing certified in the first place. That's probably harder than creating it.

Re:248 mile range? Big deal. (1, Informative)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 4 years ago | (#32405148)

The tesla roadster, when actually tested by someone other than tesla, only had a range of less than 60 miles.

Re:248 mile range? Big deal. (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32405700)

The tesla roadster, when actually tested by someone other than tesla, only had a range of less than 60 miles.

Yeah, but lets be honest here, that test was 240 quarter-mile drags complete with tire burnouts. Not only did they need a charge, but they needed a new set of tires after that abuse.

Solectria Sunrise had 370 mile/charge range (3, Informative)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#32405188)

With

NiMH batteries
Place for 4 occupants & a trunk for luggage
Crash tested

in 1996...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solectria_Sunrise [wikipedia.org]

Re:248 mile range? Big deal. (2, Informative)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#32405452)

These graphs might interest you: http://www.teslamotors.com/blog4/?p=70 [teslamotors.com]

In particular, take a look at the range graph.

pan american highway (2, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404412)

down the Pan American Highway, beginning July 8 in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, and ending up in Tierra Del Fuego three month later. That's about 60 charges

Heh.....it's also not connected completely (need to take a ferry for part of it), and it is dangerous. For example, on the stretch between Guatemala and El Salvador, you will frequently find highway robbers. And of course, like any highway, there are traffic jams. So....that 60 charges is going to grow. If it can find a place to charge....some of those countries have 110 volt outlets.

But whatever, don't let all this discourage them. I'd love to read their trip report.

Re:pan american highway (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404422)

So....that 60 charges is going to grow. If it can find a place to charge....some of those countries have 110 volt outlets.

You mean like the US?

Re:pan american highway (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404544)

With a car from the UK? 110 Volts may be a problem, but I'd be more worried about the charge time.

Re:pan american highway (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404572)

With a car from the UK? 110 Volts may be a problem, but I'd be more worried about the charge time.

My shaver seems to cope okay. Say five hours driving per day leaves them 19 hours to charge the car for the next day.

Re:pan american highway (2, Funny)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404576)

Yeah. Odd countries like the US.

Re:pan american highway (1)

yk4ever (1110821) | more than 4 years ago | (#32405024)

Let's hope that UK guys will at least remember to drive on the right side of the road.

Range hasn't been a problem for years (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404510)

And the Tesla Roadster shows that decent performance can be attained. 150 miles and you've a couple of hours between recharges anyway. The problem is recharge times. Deal with that and electric cars are viable.

Re:Range hasn't been a problem for years (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32404658)

no, recharge times are not really a issue. but you have to realize that you use a electric car differently then a gas powered one.
you charge it at home at night, and its full in the morning, every morning. most people could do a week on a single nights charge.

that one time a year(if that) where you have to go further then the cars range you can always borrow or rent a gas powered car (or even take the train or something)

the one thing holding electric back is purchases price. the lithium batteries are expensive (all the rest is cheaper)

Re:Range hasn't been a problem for years (2, Interesting)

Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404750)

Exactly right, batteries are too expensive and you charge everywhere. My money is not on lithium tech. It is on NiCad, NiMH, lead acid and most importantly nickel-iron batteries. Fast charging is bad because it means expensive and brittle batteries as well as extreme loads on the power grid. Think about 1000 kW charging. It just does not work. Meanwhile, we have the solution to range anxiety: a biodiesel generator.

Re:Range hasn't been a problem for years (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 4 years ago | (#32405038)

I'm still holding out hope for hydrogen fuel cells. They're clean, they're as green as your chosen electricity supply, and you can fill up your tank just as quickly as you can with petrol.

Still a long way from production line ready (not least the pesky problem of making hydrogen in large quantities at a decent price), but that's the future tech I'd be betting on.

Re:Range hasn't been a problem for years (1, Interesting)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 4 years ago | (#32405140)

that one time a year(if that) where you have to go further then the cars range you can always borrow or rent a gas powered car (or even take the train or something)

You're assuming that everyone drives the way they do in the US, little short runs to work or the shops. In the UK (and particularly in rural areas), we use our cars a lot more, and tend to take far longer trips. It's not uncommon for me to drive a couple of hundred miles and then come back, within a couple of hours. I can do that on rather less than a full tank of petrol, and if I need to refill it takes a couple of minutes. With a range of 248 miles I'd barely make it to the next big town and back.

Re:Range hasn't been a problem for years (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32405738)

that one time a year(if that) where you have to go further then the cars range you can always borrow or rent a gas powered car

buy one of those little cargo racks that stick on the back of SUVs etc that fit a 1 1/4 inch hitch and are just about the size of a modest gas generator, like one foot by two feet... Most people use them to strap down a beer cooler, or maybe to strap down gas and propane tanks. I'd strap down a small gas (or propane) generator.

Re:Range hasn't been a problem for years (1)

berberine (1001975) | more than 4 years ago | (#32405892)

no, recharge times are not really a issue. but you have to realize that you use a electric car differently then a gas powered one. you charge it at home at night, and its full in the morning, every morning. most people could do a week on a single nights charge.

that one time a year(if that) where you have to go further then the cars range you can always borrow or rent a gas powered car (or even take the train or something)

the one thing holding electric back is purchases price. the lithium batteries are expensive (all the rest is cheaper)

If this car were to be bought by someone like me, I regularly have to travel more than 248 mile range it has. From my home, the places I regularly travel to are 228 miles RT, 316 miles RT, 340 miles RT, 424 miles RT, and occasionally one trip that is 842 miles RT. This is also the distances between my home and these cities. It doesn't include driving around while there. All the trips, with the exception of the last one, are usually day trips. I visit these places about 15 times a year, so pretty much any electric car will not work for my purposes.

There are no trains or buses here. I am also not going to borrow or rent a car for such purposes either. It's just not practical for me. I realize that I am not most people, but there is a large majority of the population for which an electric car would not be practical even if it were affordable.

Thundersky batteries- steer clear (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404588)

Thundersky has a pretty horrible reputation in the EV crowd- google "thundersky problems", and read all the sad stories for a few hours.

248 miles my gluteus maximus. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32404598)

The original figure is 400 km. There's one significant digit in it. "250 mi" will do fine and save energy too! Don't you know that every digit except 0 has "on" bits and "on" bits require more electricity than "off" bits?

Electric Hype (0)

Genocaust (1031046) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404602)

I don't see all the hype about electric vehicles. While I agree we need to move from our dependence on fossil fuels, electric vehicles simply move the pollution from the highway back to the power plant. All that energy has to come from somewhere...

Re:Electric Hype (2, Informative)

Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404710)

How many times do we have to hear this argument? In the absolute worst case scenario (a coal grid), EVs beat gas cars in pollution. In a real scenario, with 10+ percent renewable and nuclear, and most natural gas, EVs kill gas cars in pollution. The amount of pollution produced per unit of electricity is also falling.

Re:Electric Hype (3, Informative)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404954)

Unfortunately, our nations (USA) power grid is sorely in need of an upgrade. I've read numerous times that even with an increase in nuclear, solar, and wind power, the means of distribution is very limited. Second goes for vehicles that will be recharging from said grid.

If there was ever a need to spend stimulus money on a project, it would be our nations infrastructure. Both at the state and federal level. But our politicians decided to fritter away funding in useless "make work" projects that doesn't provide a damn bit of investment.

Too late now to ask for another stimulus. Our nation shot that wad one too many times. Now, we really are stuck using oil for a very long time. At least, until our trillions of debt can get reduced. Fat chance, but I digress.

Re:Electric Hype (2, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 4 years ago | (#32405834)

So?

The cars won't appear there overnight. They'll be bought gradually, and be mostly charged at night, when the grid has spare capacity. As the load grows, the places with least spare capacity left will be upgraded first. You don't have to do an "overhaul the entire US" project. And why would it need a stimulus? If people are spending more on electricity, that's where the funding for the infrastructure should come from.

Re:Electric Hype (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404722)

I don't see all the hype about electric vehicles. While I agree we need to move from our dependence on fossil fuels, electric vehicles simply move the pollution from the highway back to the power plant. All that energy has to come from somewhere.

There is only one way to get oil (from the ground) and several ways (some - clean & renewable) to produce electric power. Burning oil is wasteful anyway, we need oil for other things (like plastics) that we can't live without.

Re:Electric Hype (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404726)

Okay, but how does the efficiency of an electric plant + transmission + battery losses compare with the efficiency of an internal combustion engine? I actually haven't seen the numbers, and could definitely see it coming out either way.

The other big benefits of shifting the production to power plants come from the fact that (1) replacing the plant with a low-pollution source (e.g. nuclear, solar, or wind) then removes the pollution (while you can't exactly put a nuclear reactor in everyone's car) and (2) even shifting the pollution to a heavy-pollution plant like coal means that it can be better controlled.

Re:Electric Hype (2, Funny)

Macka (9388) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404784)

While I agree we need to move from our dependence on fossil fuels [...]

So after we move away from powering cars using fossil fuels, what do you propose we power them with if not electricity?

Re:Electric Hype (2, Interesting)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 4 years ago | (#32405760)

Charcoal? ;^) [wikipedia.org] Non-fossil and renewable!!!

How many miles??? (2, Funny)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404682)

UK Students Build Electric Car With 248-Mile Range
Related Stories
Submission: UK students build electric car with 264 mile range by da_how (1822480)

264 going once, going twice? Do we have 270???

I guess it doesn't matter, because I bet those girls that would date these students if only they had a car live just one mile further away...

Boggles the mind (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#32405740)

You had to go 250 miles from your home to get a date? Man, I knew geeks were hard up but that is extreme.

Or were you finished before the battery could recharge in 30 minutes and she lived 125 miles away? Try working on your staying power, maybe then you could find a girl in the same country/state.

not very impressive (3, Interesting)

batistuta (1794636) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404834)

I don't mean to troll, and I'm sure it was a fun and great learning experience for the students. In this regard, it is a big success and kudos for the team. But as far as the technology goes, I'm not very impressed. I mean, they took at very light vehicle, filled it up with standard batteries, and made it go. There is no true innovation here, just putting pieces together. And we should not blame them for this. The breakthrough we are all waiting for is in the batteries. Until this happens, all articles about electric vehicles will be along the same lines

As for their plan trip, I hope they have a good maintenance team driving next to them. The Panamerican road is by no means a proving ground or race track. In some parts its asphalt is quite damaged. I'm not saying that it can't be driven, but they are not very suitable for such a tuned vehicle with low clearance.

I wish them best of luck!

Re:not very impressive (1)

gravos (912628) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404882)

I agree. I was glad that at least no one here seems to try to have made a comparison between this vehicle and a vehicle from an automotive manufacturer with far shorter range, which often happens in these sorts of threads. Make that thing street legal with at least a 3-star safety rating and then see how far it will go!

Re:not very impressive (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32404982)

Don't know about the safety rating, but the SR8 is street legal.

Take a beating (1)

Beer_Smurf (700116) | more than 4 years ago | (#32405102)

I doesn't sound like they have ever driven the Alaska Highway.
Muddy sections, Gravel sections, Frost Heaves, Mosquitos, Moose.
A Radical SR8, electric or not is going to have a rough time.
I look forward to hearing about the effort

Re:Take a beating (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#32405170)

I look forward to the epic fail they are about to experience.

batteries are not the way to go, give me ultra capacitors. they charge in seconds, don't need cooling and can discharge huge current without melting (that means great acceleration) oh and they weight a fraction of a battery.

the only down side to them right now is cost and storage.

Re:Take a beating (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32405748)

I doesn't sound like they have ever driven the Alaska Highway.

.... Mosquitos ....

I thought we had a mosquito problem in WI, but apparently in AK they're the size of hungry raptor dinosaurs.

Could've had 400mi range in 10 minutes work (4, Insightful)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 4 years ago | (#32405264)

One thing that stands out to me is that the rear spoiler and front splitter would make for a lot of aero drag, especially where the rest of the car is rather likely to be quite aerodynamically slippery looking at it's shape. They've also tackled rolling resistance and drive-train efficiency so any gains in aerodynamics would greatly extend range. At 60mph it's the greatest force acting on this car, and with their steps towards efficiency it is even greater. If they would just ditch the big spoiler and the front splitter, they'll watch their range shoot up. 0.50 to 0.30 cd might account for 40% improvement in a vehicle where rolling resistance has been already addresed.

Don't get me wrong what these guys are doing is great, but ~270 miles range is not terribly impressive considering that's what a stock Tesla has achieved.

Ditching the wing and splitter could have yielded them 20-40% improved range at open road speed, at the small expense of the race car look. It would take a few minutes with a spanner to remove, and to put back on for parking up for a photo shoot with the local press. I hope this is what they do. Some further work with some duct tape or some more ambitious aero mods with some coroplast http://ecomodder.com/forum/showthread.php/aerocivic-how-drop-your-cd-0-31-0-a-290.html [ecomodder.com] ecomodder* style and they could have squeezed out more efficiency. The very best road vehicles approach 0.15 Cd, this would have given them a shot at 500 miles range. Lower the speed a little and they may have gone 600mi / 1000km.

I can't find Radcial SR8's aero stats anywhere but I know such track day specials have a fair bit of down force by design, so a drag coefficient above 0.50 is not uncommon. This is largely the result of the wings, air damn, and underbody design. High down force set up might be over 0.70 or more. To compare, a SUV is about 0.40, a good sedan 0.32, and a Toyota Prius 0.27, Aptera is about 0.17 these vehicles are not even designed not to generate lift let alone downforce.

* Yes I do lurk there.

aerodynamics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32405444)

sorry, but are they stupid?
everyone knows, that at highway speeds all that counts is aerodynamics. if you are driving constantly at 60 mph, it doesn't matter if your car weights ton, or ton and half. all that counts is aerodynamics.
so I would say that if they had used for example mercedes E class (car with best aerodynamic coefficient) they could do few hundreds km more...

What's the big deal? (1)

Der Huhn Teufel (688813) | more than 4 years ago | (#32405862)

This seems to be the equivalent of bragging about getting increased range in a normal car because you put another fuel tank instead of having a trunk and removed everything else that makes a modern car modern. Like important safety equipment, or air conditioning. I don't get it. Tesla has already done what these guys are trying to do ten times over without sacrificing all of that. And good luck getting through the southern Mexican parts of the highway in that thing. You'll need it.
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