By Jim Taylor, Editor MACS ACtion Magazine
Some interesting recent news items from the world of electric vehicles.
• One commonly voiced gripe about EVs is that although they have almost instant torque, they’re really no fun to drive due to a lot of weight for their size (battery packs, etc) and the common single speed or CVT transmissions. All that is seen as fine – or at least adequate – for commuting but the sporting element remains lacking.
The folks behind the British-based EVCUP race series would like to change your thinking. Their race series for electric vehicles will debut in November at Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway in California. On offer will be two racing classes for purpose-built cars. One class is based on the ThinkCity EV commuter car and the other is for built-for-racing, open wheel “formula” or “prototype” cars.
Besides the usual collection of new cars and teams, the competition has been joined by Drayson Racing, a team with great experience and success in world LeMans and endurance racing. The team principal is Lord Paul Drayson, the former British Government Minister of Science.
• Need more performance? Another electric vehicle speed record fell recently. An old record of just over 206 mph was shattered as Richard Hatfield turned 215.960 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats. We said electric; did we mention the part about a motorcycle?
Naturally, this bike was race-prepped, but the customer version of the Lightning Motorcycles electric SuperBike can provide up to 180 horsepower, the company says, and can be provide a rider more than 100 miles of cruising range.
• Another concern (from some people) about today’s electric and hybrid vehicles is their cost. When does the payback occur? Are the benefits worth the extra dollars? Based on one sale, you’ll probably make your money back if you keep the car more than 100 years.
At a recent RM Auctions event, an 1899 Columbia Electric Landaulet sold for $550,000. Believed to be the last example of its kind, this car was built by the Pope Mfg. Co. as it moved from bicycle production into motorized carriages.
According to the story, the car was found in a barn in the middle 1970s, restored, and added to a private collection. Looking at it, it really is more carriage than car but even then there were glimmers of later automotive technology: two solid axles with leaf springs, two DC electric motors, an all-weather top, and (gasp!) two-wheel brakes.
When the company finally ceased vehicle production in 1913, they had produced more than 27,000 vehicles using either electric or gasoline propulsion.
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The 32nd annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Convention and Trade Show will take place January 18-20, 2012 at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV.