Last week in Australia the record was broken for the longest distance traveled on a single charge in a production electric vehicle.
The electric vehicle was a Tesla Roadster – the only one owned in Australia – which reached a maximum distance of 501 kilometers (311 miles) on a single charge.
This happened during the Global Green Challenge, a relaxed race where environmentally friendly vehicles have been competing over the 3000 kilometer (1864 mile) course from Darwin to Adelaide.
To make sure there wasn’t any secret recharging going on, the Tesla had it’s recharging flap sealed shut and an official car followed behind every step of the way. The long range was all down to “Hypermiling”, a technique where you glide as much as possible, use as little power as possible, and react early and gently to approaching obstacles and hills.
I offer my congratulations to Simon Hackett and his co-driver Emilis Prelgauskas on breaking the long range record in their electric car.
Now while the Tesla Roadster‘s achievement is impressive, it’s certainly not the first time an electric car has traveled such a distance on a single charge. In fact in 1996 a Solectra Sunrise achieved 603 kilometers (375 miles) on a single charge, using comparatively low-tech Nickel Metal Hydride batteries during the American Tour de Sol rally.
While the Solectra Sunrise never made it to full production, it came very close – even completing crash testing. I think the Solectra Sunrise was ahead of it’s time: gasoline in 1996 was only around $1.20 US per gallon.
But what if 603 kilometers on a single charge just isn’t enough?
No problem. In 1999 Mitsubishi broke the world record for the longest distance traveled in an electric vehicle on a single charge.
A gasoline powered Mitsubishi FTO was converted to pure electric and powered by a 400 kilogram (881 pound) Manganese Lithium-Ion battery.
With some basic aerodynamic modifications to reduce air resistance, the team at Mitsubishi were able to achieve 2142 kilometers (1300 miles) on a single charge at their test track.
At the time Mitsubishi were immensely proud of this achievement and boasted it across the internet and news media, though for some reason finding information on this event has become near impossible – even through Mitsubishi’s own website. It seems that Mitsubishi want it to be forgotten, and fast.
It’s also interesting that despite being the record holder for the longest EV distance traveled on a single charge, and after 12 years of advances in battery technology, Mitsubishi’s all electric MiEV (due 2010) has a range of barely 160 kilometers (100 miles). I wonder if perhaps the Conspiracy Alert light should be flashing?
So the myth of electric cars having a limited range has been officially dismissed, and seeing that previously expensive Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries are getting cheaper all the time it means affordable, long range electric vehicles are very possible at long last.
Now if only the car makers would build them.