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Electric sportscar completes Alaska-Argentina trip

November 16, 2010

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — An electric sportscar finished a remarkable road trip Tuesday on the Panamerican Highway, traveling from near the Arctic Circle in Alaska to the world’s southernmost city without a single blast of carbon dioxide emissions.

Developed by engineers from Imperial College London, the SRZero sportscar ran on lithium iron phosphate batteries powering two electric motors with a peak output of 400 horsepower during its 16,000-mile (26,000-kilometer) journey.

Powering up was a joy at times, the team said — such as in Chena Hot Springs, Alaska, where they started their trip July 3 after charging the batteries using geothermal energy.

“The SRZero was literally being charged from energy taken straight out of the earth with absolutely zero CO2 emissions,” Alex Schey, a mechanical engineer who organized the trip, wrote in his blog that day.

Finding places to plug in along the way became a major challenge as the team passed through 14 countries in 70 days of driving.

But every time the driver hit the brakes — and there was plenty of that as the team made its way through the Rocky Mountains, Mexico and Central America and then through South America — the car recovered kinetic energy, extending its capacity to drive as much as six hours and more than 400 kilometers (250 miles) on a single charge.

This was no clunky science project — all that horsepower enabled the car to reach 60 mph (96 kph) in just seven seconds and reach top controlled speeds of 124 mph (200 kph), the team said.

It pulled into the city of Ushuaia, in Tierra del Fuego, on Tuesday afternoon.

“WE HAVE MADE IT - WE ARE IN USHUAIA!!!!!!! so many emotions, so many people to thank. It has been two absolutely incredible years. ...,” the team tweeted, posting a picture of the car outside the local customs office.

“The success of efforts like this should motivate us to follow this road that we believe is as possible as it is necessary: that of searching for progress for our societies without putting at risk the environment,” the governor of Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego province, Fabiana Ros, said as she greeted the team.

Andy Hadland, the team’s spokesman, said he hopes the trip will change the image of electric cars and inspire young people to become engineers and develop their own projects.


On the Internet:

Racing Green Endurance blog: http://www.racinggreenendurance.com/blog

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