May 5, 2005

Effort to Set Electric Car Record Delayed

WEST WENDOVER, Nev. (AP) -- Gusty winds and mechanical problems on 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.

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.

Britons Mark Newby and Colin Fallows 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. (ABB)

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.

Newby was to make two runs Thursday. His team is now looking to Friday.

After the first run, mechanics will replace the batteries and turn around the car for a second run. The speeds of each run will then be averaged by agents for the Federation Internationale de L'Automobile, the motor sports governing body that will impound the car for an inspection after the attempt.

Fallows said there's no great prize if the team succeeds.

"Record breaking is the only business that when you achieve your goal, you're redundant. You wait for the next guy to break it. Then you can start over."


On the Net:

Team: http://www.abb.com/e(equals)motion