A British baron driving at a ridiculously high speed sounds like a tale from the 1920s. But in fact Lord Drayson’s run out at 204.2 miles per hour happened this week and destroyed the record for an electric vehicle.
The previous record of 175 miles per hour had stood since 1974. The rules of the record say that not only must the vehicle be fully electrically powered, but must weigh below 1,000 kilograms (2,204 pounds). The speed is measured over a mile and the car must be timed twice in an hour, with the speed taken as an average of the two runs.
By way of comparison, the current land speed record for any wheel-driven car stands at 763 miles per hour.
The car, known as the Drayson B12 569, runs off a single lithium-ion battery. Its a 30 kWh model, more than 3,000 times the capacity of those used in high-end smartphones. The vehicle has been converted from a racing car with a 5.5 liter biofuel engine.
Breaking the record isn’t an end to the car’s exploits. It will be used again next year in Formula E, a competition run by the FIA (behind Formula 1 racing) solely for all-electric vehicles. Instead of having pitstops for refuelling, each team will have two cars. When the battery is running out the driver can stop the car in the pit lane and must then run 100 yards to the other (recharged) car.
Drayson was formerly a defense and then science minister in the British government. He was reported to have quit the former job to devote more time to managing a team in the Le Mans 24 hour race.
According to Drayson, setting the record in the vehicle was designed to “showcase the maximum level of EV performance at the moment – and in a real racing car rather than a teardrop-shaped land speed record car. We are also demonstrating the future potential of technologies like wireless charging in speeding the adoption of high performance EVs.”