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Broken Reporting on a Broken Record

Recently, the Japan Electric Vehicle Club set a record for an electric vehicle (EV) by driving over 1,000 km on a single charge. The English version of the Asahi reported it as thus:

The Japan Electric Vehicle Club drove its test car 1,003.184 kilometers, far outstripping its own previous world record of 555.6 km.

The group will apply to register the new record with Guinness World Records.

The new record was set with the "Mira EV," a minivehicle made by Daihatsu Motor Co. and modified by the club. It was equipped with 8,320 cylindrical lithium-ion batteries produced by Sanyo Electric Co.

The minivehicle circled the 689-meter circuit at Tsukuba Circuit in this city 1,456 times in about 27 hours and 30 minutes from Saturday to Sunday.

The Telegraph also praised the achievement:

The achievement is timely: Japan and other nations are bracing themselves for an electric car boom as car manufacturers race to produce competitive versions of the environmentally-friendly vehicles.

However, the biggest inconveniences for many potential e-car owners relate to charging – from finding a nearby charger to making sure that the car does not run out of power during the school run.

The latest epic electric vehicle drive of over 1,000km effortlessly beat the previous world record of uncharged driving 555.6km, which was achieved last November by the same Japanese organisation.

However, there are gaping holes in both stories. The Japanese version in the Asahi shimbun contained far more detail, particularly this:

挑戦するEVは、もちろん、ミラEVだ。1000kmに挑戦するにあたり、徹底して車両を軽くした。2人乗りシートを約40キロ軽い超軽量タイプに取り換え、転がり抵抗を軽くするタイヤを採用した。

そして、ドライバーをどうするか。舘内代表が1人でハンドルを握り続けた東京-大阪間よりも長時間の挑戦になるため、今回は舘内代表や自動車ジャーナリスト、関係者ら17人が約1時間ずつ交代して記録に挑んだ。

22日午前11時スタートしたミラEVは、電圧低下で30分間中断するというトラブルに見舞われながら未明のコースをひたすら走り続けた。夜が明けた翌23日午後8時過ぎ、今度は雨が降り始めた。雨が降ると路面の走行抵抗が増す。EVにとっては大敵だ。「こりゃ、大きなマイナスだな」。次第に雨脚が強くなり、EVクラブの関係者が詰めていた本部席からため息が漏れた。

 記録挑戦に参加したドライバーたちは運転席で速度計と電流計をみながら、一定の速度で走るのに全神経を集中した。中にはアクセルを微妙に操作するため裸足でペダルを踏む人もいた。

 

ミラEVのハンドルを2回握ったモータージャーナリストの竹岡圭さんは、二度目の挑戦時は雨に見舞われた。電力消費を抑えようと、ワイパーを使うのは1周2回に抑えた。「同じスピードで走っても2回目は多くの電力が必要だった。電池切れしないようにアクセルを踏み過ぎないように心がけた。まるで『修行』のような走りでした」と振り返る。

They fitted the car with ultra light seats for a weight savings of 40kg and used special tires to reduce rolling resistance. It started raining, which increased rolling resistance. To save power, drivers only switched on the windshield wipers two times per lap. Lap being a key word here as they were driving on a closed test track with no need to switch gears or touch the brakes. They also had a light touch on the accelerator to keep the car at a steady 40km/h.

For the Telegraph to call this an "epic drive" that "effortlessly" broke the previous record is pure BS. It's also bad that the Asahi whittled the English version down to be utterly meaningless. Sure, a distance record was broken, but the group went to great lengths to control the driving environment and modify the car. This isn't as big a deal as the newspapers are making it out to be. EVs may be sexy technology but their practicality is still very limited. l'll be impressed when EVs can drive 1,000km under real conditions: traffic jams, bad weather, uneven acceleration and deceleration, poorly inflated tires, a full passenger load, plus groceries and other assorted junk loaded in the back.

Comments

The Chevy Volt is FAR ahead in this field. It is the most practical and advanced electric-engine drivetrain in the world. Toyota actually dismissed the whole Lithium-Ion battery gamble and Volt powertrain a few years back, basically calling GM stupid for going ahead with it. The real reason was Toyota had no idea or skill to actually develop such an advanced eco option, so they dismissed in typical Toyota arrogance...Kind of like how they dismissed all gas pedal and other recall problems recently. Ah, Japan for sure...

Two great sites to see just how advanced this vehicle is, how much it saves the environment...Not all smoke and mirrors like the all-electric vehicles proposals out there...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Volt

http://www.chevrolet.com/pages/open/default/future/volt.do

Best oart: it comes out in the fall!

well..id like to hope all these electro cars will rock...but something tells me that we will be using gas guzzlers for a long while yet...

city driving would be OK..but..theres still something..less than romantic...less than manly about an electric car...i DO like the saving money aspect..but since i dont believe in anthropocentric-climate change (or whatever)..i dont give 2 shites if its "good" for the environment..

I still imagine it wil be like the old RED BARCHETTA song from Rush at some point in the future..with wussy plastic cops trying to stop my 73 'Cuda..or V-8 Mad Max Interceptor...

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