October 27, 2010

Electric Car Makes Distance Record

A German electric car was hailed by organizers as a world record setter as the car was driven from Munich in southern Germany to Berlin on Tuesday without recharging the battery.

The brightly colored Audi A2 took about seven hours to go the 372-mile distance and arrived in the luxurious courtyard of the economy ministry in Berlin just before 8:00 a.m. local time.

"If any journalists want to charge up their iPhones, we still have some electricity left," joked Mirko Hannemann, the driver of the electric vehicle, as he stepped out to show off the battery.

Rainer Bruederle, Germany's Economy Minister, welcomed the team as they arrived and was even tempted to take a spin around the courtyard, as a passenger, that is.

"Welcome to a world record. Before, electric cars could typically only go 60 or 70 kilometers before recharging. This is a technological leap forward," said Bruederle, speaking at a press conference later on Tuesday.

Manufacturers hope that electric cars will someday dominate the automotive industry, but most consumers see the short range of the vehicles as a major fault in the technology.

Japanese researchers have driven a prototype electric vehicle more than 620 miles around a closed-circuit track, but the two German firms, Lekker Energie and DBM Energy, said their vehicle is the furthest traveled by a typical everyday car.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the government aims to have one million electric cars on the road by 2020, but German car builders have been slow to get moving and are now playing catch up with their Asian competitors.

Europe's biggest manufacturer Volkswagen and luxury car maker BMW both say they expect to have their first electric vehicles on the market by 2013.

Japan's Nissan manufacturer said it had begun mass production of its Leaf electric car and is in position to put it on sale both at home and in the United States.

Berlin hopes that by 2050, gas-guzzling automobiles will be a thing of the past.

"Let the message go out to the world. Germany is again a technological leader," said Bruederle.