Electronics & Test

Drag Racing Goes Electric

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Alexander Wolfe
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Companion Slideshow
Alexander Wolfe   9/2/2011 8:44:27 AM
I wanted to point readers to a related slideshow, on EVs. Click on Slideshow: Automotive's Electric Vehicle Evolution.

Rob Spiegel
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Electric going mainstream
Rob Spiegel   9/2/2011 8:46:28 AM
Nice story, Chuck. I had no idea electric drag racing has come so far. Just the fact that there is a National Electric Drag Racing Association says tons. I live not far from a street that sees a lot of peeling out on Friday and Saturday nights. My neighborhood will be a tad quieter once these electrics take over.

Douglas Smock
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The Thrill of the Roar
Douglas Smock   9/2/2011 9:12:49 AM
Half the fun of going to a drag race is hearing the huge roar of the cars -- particularly after the opening flag. I don't see  the fun or appeal of an electric car drag race. And as for those kids a couple streets over, I think they'll still prefer the noisy cars too.

Beth Stackpole
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Any lessons to be learned?
Beth Stackpole   9/2/2011 9:18:05 AM
Fun piece, Chuck. Really enjoyed it. Any chance these speed demons have any wisdom/best practices/engineering techniques that they can impart to the big electric cars guys to advance the technology even further and a faster clip? Is there any knowledge sharing going on?

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Re: Any lessons to be learned?
electrabishi   9/2/2011 11:32:09 PM
Hi Beth, why yes we do.  Anyone from any from any manufacturers are free to visit our website at www.nedra.com.  We also have a NEDRA Yahoog group dedicated to discussions.  There have been a few engineers from several of the EV Manufacturers, but none of the big ones.  We know and have talked with several of the engineers at Tesla.  However many of the big names are looking at manufacturering econimies of scale to the point that all the fun stuff is left out of their design.  Take my Pinto for example.  It was an American version of a lack luster grocery getter.  Ford would never have put another dime in for another feature until they were faced with exploding cars and were forced to put a $2.50 rubber bladder in the fuel tank.  But hey, lose the constraints of big business monetary criteria and you actually can make a Pinto go fast and be fun, and safer too.  But most of us are not in it for the money.  Its mainly to show people that electric cars can be fun, they can be luxurious if you want, and they can be fast and that it can be done for not a whole bunch of money.  If everybody that saw our street legal cars on the track went to Ford, or GM or Nissan or Mitsubishi or Toyota and demanded "We want Fast Sporty Electric Cars that are safe and pretty" they may start to take note.  We are seeing some of the overseas manufacturers developing road racing series type cars, so we know they are looking at it.  And its just like the old saying goes, " if it wins at the track on Sunday, it sells on Monday".



TJ McDermott
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Where are the revolutionary designs?
TJ McDermott   9/4/2011 12:21:41 AM
EVs seem to be taking a very slow, evolutionary path.  Why a single motor in the gas engine's place?  Where are the revolutionary designs?

Where are the vehicles with a smaller motor in each wheel hub?  Where is the regenerative braking that these motors could offer?  Four motors offers redundancy; you can still get home on three if one fails.

The future I saw as a kid should have been here already, but it seems as far away now as it did then.

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Re: Where are the revolutionary designs?
plasticmaster   9/4/2011 6:01:27 PM
It's also interesting to me that the price of EV's aren't at a level to cause a mass exodus of gas car buyers to change of over. 

I drive about 35k miles per year. I know that's twice what the "average" driver drives....but I priced the vehicles that could do 100 miles a day (my minimum) and found that the cost of a mid-sized gas powered car plus the cost of gas (for me) turned out to be almost the same as an EV with it's electric consumption requirements over 4 years. 

The result for me was this: An EV with a range of 100 miles per day (on one charge) cost so much more than a comprable gas vehicle that the savings in fuel was offset by the higher base price of the car.

Obviously, if the average consumer drives only 40 miles a day, there is going to be some savings more than what I would experience. But until people start really making the switch, what incentive is there for the auto industry to change its ways?

TJ McDermott
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Re: Where are the revolutionary designs?
TJ McDermott   9/4/2011 11:10:43 PM
Energy storage is the key.  Until there is a revolution in storage, EVs and alternate energy sources simply aren't going to work.

The revolution has to both increase the energy density in the storage media, AND bring the cost down.  It then won't matter which comes first, people clamoring for it or Detroit pushing it; EVs will come into their own.

People won't make the switch until it's economical.  Detroit won't switch until people start buying.  Lovely Catch-22.

I'm waiting for Daniel Shipstone to be born so we can get on with this.  If anyone has an idea to rival Heinlein's Shipstones, build it and we will come.

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Can the grid and power plants take it?
Hoban   9/6/2011 9:30:08 AM
I have seen several posst asking why electric vehicles have not become more widespread. I, for one, am EXTREMELY thankful thay have not. Our current electrical grid cannot handle a huge increase in demand that widespread adoption of electric vehicles would require. Not to mention our generation capacity is decreasing  as we speak, with the current administration pressuring the coal industry and hindering the nuclear industry. This can only mean one thing as electric vehicles become more commonplace: electricy prices will go up, way up. Will electric vehicles still be attractive when electricy costs twice as much, and you also pay twice as much for your regular household use? What ever happened to hydrogen fuel cells? What about natural gas engines now that we have a massive supply in shale?

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Electric drag racing
j-allen   9/6/2011 9:40:34 AM
Although drag racing is rather a silly use of any automotive technology, especially electric, it does suggest that electric vehicles can make inroads through specialized applications. 


Perhaps it is not necessary for an electric car to mimic exactly a gas car.   Rather it might do what is already does well.  If a family has 2 cars, they could use a very modest, simple electric for short trips and commutes of <50 miles round trip, and keep a gas car (or hybrid) for longer trips. 


It is also important to develop charging systems based on clean renewable energy.  At present most electric vehicles are in fact just coal-fired steam cars (with the boiler and steam engine at the power station.)

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