September 19, 2014

Electric car world record on single charge – but it’s pointless

The Electric Daihatsu Mira Van

The Japanese Electric Vehicle Club did 632 miles in this Electric Daihatsu Mira Van

The Japan Electric Vehicle Club have set a world record for distance travelled on a single charge – 632 miles.

When car endurance records are set they feel relevant only if they are real-world records. Records set by a car you can buy doing something you could do. A bit like Tom Ford’s run to Munich and back in a BMW 320d ED last week when he managed over 1,000 miles on a single standard tank of fuel.

But records like the one just set for the longest distance travelled on a single charge are totally pointless. On the face of it the record set is impressive. The Japan Electric Vehicle Club drove an electric Daihatsu Mira Van for 632 miles on a single charge. Very impressive. But look at the facts.

The endurance run was done on a closed circuit oval track. The average – and no doubt constant – speed was under 25mph. It used special reduced rolling resistance tires provided by Toyo. There was liberal use of carbon fibre, including the seats. And the battery pack was a whopping 74 kWh. To give some prespective, the Nissan LEAF EV has a battery pack of 24kWh.

So this record is a bit like saying the BMW 320d ED can manage 3,000 miles on a single tank of fuel. Which it can if you fit a tank three times the size of a normal one. And if you ran it on a closed oval circuit at a constant 25mph with special tyres and lots of carbon fibre it would probably get pushing on 5,000 miles.

So we have a record set on controlled and enclosed roads at a constant speed and doubtless in perfect weather. And then to make the record even less credible you use a battery source 3 times the average for a vehicle of its type.

That was worth the effort then.

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