Land-speed record set for battery-electric vehicles

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A team of Ohio State University engineering students has set a world land-speed record for a battery-electric vehicle this week.

Professional driver Roger Schroer guided the university team’s Venturi Buckeye Bullet 2.5 car to an average speed of 307.7mph on 24 August 2010.

The lithium-ion battery-powered car eclipsed the previous 245mph world land-speed record for battery-electric vehicles, which was set in 1999 by White Lightning, driven by Pat Rummerfield.

The new record set by the Bullet is pending certification by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, the worldwide motor sports governing body.

The Bullet was required to make two speed runs, one each in opposite directions and within 60 minutes, in order to be considered for the record.

While the record is officially determined by averaging the speed of the two runs in the middle of the 12-mile course, the Bullet exited the flying mile at 320mph.

The team anticipated making further tries at besting its time this week but decided to stop after trying to replace the vehicle’s broken clutch - too much torque from the motor ripped apart the half-inch steel teeth that connect the motor to the gearbox.

The Bullet 2.5 uses the same body and chassis of the previous hydrogen fuel-cell-powered Buckeye Bullet 2 (video footage below), and nearly the same electric traction system, but it is powered by a 600+ kW A123 Systems lithium-ion battery pack that was designed, tested and assembled by the Bullet team and A123 Systems.

The team is supported by the French electric-vehicle manufacturer Venturi Automobiles, which provided significant sponsorship funding to the students.