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Publication Title | Electric Cars: Toys or Reality

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Above: The first electric car to break 100 mph lap speed at PIR was this '85 Indy Lola conversion sponsored by EXIDE batteries and piloted by Billy Roe. Photo: Paul Brasch

Electric Cars: Toys or Reality?

Paul H. Brasch

Street legal electric cars are a joke: How long is the cord? They are no more than golf-carts or

handicapped vehicles. Electricity could never power a car for freeway use or for more than a very few miles. If they were “practical”, why don’t I see them on the road? They don’t go far enough and they cost too much. It takes too long to recharge.You can’t use electricity for a motorcycle.

The statements above are the perceptions in the minds of the public. The REALITY is very different. Let’s look at the facts.

Myth: Electric Vehicles (EVs) can’t go very fast.

The reality is that the present land speed record for an EV was set way back in 1974 at 175 miles per hour at Bonneville by Silicon Valley engineer, Roger Hedlund. (editor’s note: The new record of 183 mph was set by a streamlined GM Impact on March 11, 1994. MH) There is a newly built vehicle soon to break 200 mph that has been built by Ed Rannberg of Eye Ball Engineering in the Los Angeles area.

What about motorcycles? Ed Rannberg also built an electric drag bike. It was written up in the Feb. ‘92 Cycleworld. It does 0 to 110 mph in 11 seconds flat.

There also has been full-scale auto racing at the Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) for the past 4 years. Put on by the Solar & Electric Racing Association and sponsored by Arizona Public Service (a utility), the top speeds at the March ‘93 event broke 100 mph. (The track record at PIR is about 175 mph set by Michael Andretti in a methanol Lola Indy style car.) The batteries in some racing vehicles have been exchanged in as little as 13.5 seconds, faster than most Indy pit stops. Eighty to one hundred vehicles have been competing in these races.

Myth: EVs don’t go far enough.

A typical gasoline to electric conversion will give you a 50 - 70 mile per charge range. A poor conversion job


Home Power #46 • April / May 1995 59

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