26,000km 'leccy joy ride crosses finish line
Petrol-free from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego
A team of electric-car enthusiasts — well, maniacs might be a more-accurate term — from Imperial College London have completed their 26,000-kilometer drive down the Pan-American Highway from northern Alaska to the world's most southerly city in the Tierra del Fuego district of Argentina.
"This project was never just about getting from one end of the highway to the other," said Sir Keith O'Nions, rector of the college, congratulating the team of undergrads, postgrads, and alumni who accomplished the feat. "It was also about demonstrating to communities along the way the effectiveness of low-carbon vehicle technologies, which the team has done in spades. Well done!"
The Racing Green Endurance team's SRZero
The college's Racing Green Endurance team worked with carmaker Radical Sportscars to transform Radical's donated 400bhp, twin-motor verhicle into a "supercar" they called the SRZero. The bulk of the custom work was done to harden the all-electric buggy so that it could withstand the rigors of the über–joy ride.
"Driving the open-top car at night with tropical rainstorms pounding away at an already disintegrating road was certainly a challenge," said one team member. "It was slightly nerve racking knowing that you were sitting on 550 Volts. But the waterproofing measures worked and the car survived.”
The drive spanned 14 countries and took 136 days, two hours, and 55 minutes, although the driving portion added up to a total of 70 days — less than the 80 days the team had projected. Throughout the trip, the team blogged and tweeted their progress — and lack of progress.
Approaching the goal in Tierra del Fuego
The going was not always smooth: the team and its SRZero survived a pair of failed chargers in Whitehorse, British Columbia*; a snapped shock absorber on the way to Eagle Pass, Texas; catching fire in Cartagena, Columbia; and a fender-bender while showing off in Quito, Ecuador; before arriving safe and sound in Ushuaia, Argentina, on Wednesday.
And then there were the extra days they had to stay in Columbia because of the coup that had closed the border to Ecuador.
Filmmaker Claudio von Planta traveled with the 11-member team; his footage will form the backbone of an eight-episode documentary about the adventure to be aired by BBC World News beginning January 1, 2011. ®
Whitehorse is the capital of Canada's Yukon Territory. The Reg regrets the error, and cites it as yet another example of how we Yanks are geographically challenged.
Sorry, but I'm guessing the "supergreen car" was supported by a host of normal, ungreen, dino-juice-drinking vehicles. How does that demonstrate anything "to the locals"? That an electric car can carry a driver and a passenger alone but can't do diddlysquat without a host of supporting vehicles that have to be petrol/diesel-powered? This venture would have been a lot more impressive if it had been one or a group of electric vehicles that were self-sufficient, just needing access to the local grid to complete the journey. After all, a petrol/diesel-powered vehicle such as an SUV could have done it alone, carrying all the spares and crew (it could even have dragged a trailer if required), and probably in a lot less time.
Can't help but feel
that even a Sloda Fabia estate would have been better. It does 94 to the gallon on a long run, emits 89g/km of CO2. It would have done the journey quicker as there's no re-charge time and less stopping because of its long range. The drivers could also have carried all they needed in the boot rather than having a fleet of support cars.
Given the R&D, supplies and parts etc the Skoda probably used less CO2 as well. While I use the Skoda in my example I'm sure there are others too and the Skoda and these others are cars we and our families can use now.
I'm interested in electric cars but they've got a long way to go and stunts like this expedition do nothing but waist resources.
Now that's a name!
Sir Keith O'Nions? Joined by his colleague John C'Arrots... sorry.
Good effort though. Bonkers but good. In a car with no roof?
Good to see the spirit of adventure is still with us - "had to stay in Columbia because of the coup ..."
Reminds me of when I was in San Sebastian (having arrived by boat, but that's another story) when a full-on Basque Separatist riot erupted outside the bar. Next thing my mate's at the bar entrance yelling at the rioters "Good God people, that's not how to throw a stone. Arm right back, point with the other, have you never played cricket??? Give it to me, I'll show you how to..." Swift retreat to back of bar with shutters down, to continue imbibing with the teargas leaking in. But I digress.