It's not often you get to inspire an electric car speed record attempt, but it seems I've inadvertently done just that.
It began on Twitter, when I saw that there was an electric charging station in the parking lot at John O' Groats in Scotland, (almost) the most northern point of the Scottish mainland. The village is about as far from the most south-westerly point in the UK, Lands End in England, as it's possible to get without leaving the mainland: 874 miles (1.407km) to be precise. So, I idly wondered what the fastest journey time was for an electric vehicle. The idea then caught the eye of a TV presenter named Gareth Jones, host of the eponymous podcast Gareth Jones on Speed.
"Absolutely, it's all your fault," he told me when we spoke last week. "When you tweeted—I think it was March 7—a picture of the recharging point in John O' Groats, which has an Ecotricity charger, you said, 'I wonder what the record is from Lands End to John O' Groats?' I thought, that sounds like a plan. So I fairly casually, without much forethought, retweeted it, mentioning anyone who sells EVs in the UK asking if any of them wanted to give us a car."
My original tweet is unavailable, because I recently decided social media should be ephemeral like street art, and now anything older than a couple of weeks gets automatically deleted. But sure enough, Jones' declaration on March 7 is still there to behold:
— Gareth Jones (@GarethJonesTV) March 7, 2019
Hyundai was the first to respond to Jones, offering the use of a Kona EV. Jones roped in Paul Ireson (aka Zog), his friend and co-presenter on the podcast. "I got in touch with Zog—he's about the only really bright mind on the show—to look at the maths of it and see whether it could actually be done, and he thought it could," Jones said. "Using a 50kW recharging network, with a car with a 64kWh capacity, most of the journey is at 70mph (113km/h). He calculated that we could break the record."
Soon armed with a car and a route, the two set off for Cornwall to start the record attempt on May 17. Jones said they didn't make even the smallest modifications, like taking out the back seat ("We didn't even pump up the tires beyond the recommended pressures," as he put it). And from the sounds of it, there weren't really any real modifications to their driving style either.
"We werent driving to maximize range. I did some back of the envelope calculations—do we want to do 50mph (80km/h) strategy and eek out maximum range, or do regular motorway speed and get to the next stop quicker?" Ireson told Ars. "It was clear that normal motorway speed gives you a better overall average speed. If you assume youre 25% less efficient at 70mph, therefore getting worse range, going a slightly shorter distance faster, then recharging, you should have an average speed of about 52mph (84km/h); it's about 41mph (66km/h) if you hypermile."
The best-laid plans
Unfortunately, the record attempt was in trouble from the start—the duo found out the Ecotricity charger at Lands End was out of order, meaning they couldn't start the journey with a 100% charge. Their original plan was to arrive in Lands End in the early afternoon to recharge the car and grab a few hours' sleep before setting off after dark. "Unfortunately, we lost hours and hours and hours recharging on the way down and so arrived at 8:45pm, went into the hotel, said, 'Can you sign this?' [a reference to a time card], and then we left," Jones said. "We started on the back foot because the car wasn't fully charged."
The existing record for an electric car journey between those two points stood at 19 hours and 45 minutes, a mark set by Jeff and Ben Allan in an 85kWh Tesla Model S back in 2015. In fact, Jones says there is no official Guinness record category for the journey. "They recognize the shortest recharging time, which stands at 3 hours 44 minutes and 33 seconds," he said. "Obviously, [the Allans] used Tesla's 120kW supercharger network for the bulk of that journey. But I believe when they did there were no superchargers in Scotland."
Sadly for our intrepid pair, the Kona EV can only charge at up to 75kW, a good deal slower than the Tesla. Worse yet, the DC fast chargers on their route weren't even that powerful. "The fastest chargers were up to, and here'Read More – Source