Pan-American Charge: Students Plan 15,000-Mile Journey in Electric Sports Car

Sorry, Tesla, but your recent roadtrip from Los Angeles to Detroit seems miniscule when compared to the expedition planned by the Racing Green Endurance team. The group of British students is planning to take an electric-powered Radical SR8 down 15,000 miles of the Pan-American Highway.

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“The perception still exists that EVs are somehow inferior to their fossil fueled counterparts,” spokesman Andy Hadland told Wired. “There is always a caveat. ‘I’d buy one, but they only go a few miles, they aren’t really zero carbon, they take too long to charge.’ These are all perceptions that we want to change.”

The team — which converted the SR8 into an electric vehicle with a little help from Radical — is out to prove that EVs are, in fact, capable of traveling long distances. A trans-Europe blitz would be interesting, but RGE wants to really catch the attention of people around the world.

“If you’re going to try and associate EVs with endurance and long distance, you’ve got to take it to extremes,” Hadland said.

Extreme may be the right word. The 15,000-mile journey will begin in Prudhoe, Alaska, and travel down the U.S.’ west coast into Central and South America. It isn’t going to be easy. Although the electric drivetrain, which consists of two custom-wound, 193-horsepower motors and lithium-iron-phosphate batteries, is 90-percent efficient, the SR8 EV has a maximum travel range of about 243 miles.

We imagine finding a place to charge the car — let alone adapting to local power standards — will be challenging at times, but nowhere as difficult as tackling the road itself. Much of the Pan-American Highway is best traversed with a four-wheel-drive vehicle, and sections of the road are perilous to cross depending on the season. The rear-wheel-drive SR8 was originally designed to be a track toy, and crossing such terrain may prove difficult for the carbon-fiber roadster, even with the increased ride height.

The team has spent months planning for the trip, and although it has plenty of support from officials from cities located along the route, it may have its work cut out for it — especially when it comes time to recharge. RGE plans on embarking from Prudhoe on July 8. Stay with us as we follow the team’s progress.

Source: Wired

By Steve Diehlman