Buenos Aires: "Fun, fast, clean and efficient" is the slogan of the electric convertible that five students from a British university drove from Alaska to South America`s Patagonia region and that was on show in Buenos Aires. The vehicle covered a distance of 26,000 km.The vehicle, dubbed the SRZero, is the result of a project of 10 engineering students at London`s Imperial College, though only five of them took part in the adventure that took them on a 26,000 km drive, Briton Andy Hadland told EFE Tuesday after the expedition was over.
The five adventurers - Hadland, three Germans and a Dutchman - covered an average of 290 km a day on the journey from Fairbanks, Alaska, where they set out July 4, all the way to the southern Argentine city of Ushuaia, where they arrived Nov 16.
The university students turned a gasoline-fuelled convertible sports car into an electric model with more than 400 horsepower, capable of speeds up to 200 kph with a range of 500 km a day.
The vehicle is fitted with two electric motors driven by the electric energy generated by lithium iron phosphate batteries.
The batteries take some eight hours to charge and have 97 percent efficiency, much greater than that of ordinary cars, which is around 20 percent, Hadland said.
"Our goal was to change the perception that people have of electric cars and show that they`re not slow and boring but can be more efficient than gasoline-driven cars," Hadland said, standing by the car that was exhibited Tuesday in downtown Buenos Aires, and which in the next few days will be on a boat back to Britain.
The project also sought to whet young people`s appetites for studying science and the practical applications of engineering, the Briton said, going on to tell what a "fantastic experience" the trip was.
The adventurers experienced all kinds of challenges on the long drive including blocked highways, big storms, traffic accidents and technical problems.
"The going was pretty easy through Fairbanks, Vancouver, San Francisco and Austin, until we got to Mexico City, where we had all kinds of problems on the highways and were pretty scared," the Dutchman Alex Scheui said.
In Central America they "met the challenge" of driving through torrential rains and began to think "seriously" that they would never accomplish their goal.
After crossing Colombia without incident, bad luck pounced again in Ecuador, where they had a bad accident that forced them off the road for a week to fix the electric car`s front end and suspension.
From there they continued on through Peru and Chile and entered Argentina through Bariloche, from where they headed down to Ushuaia, some 3,000 km south of Buenos Aires.
The members of the expedition took turns driving the two-seater during the 11 hours a day they were on the road, and at all times were accompanied by an assistance vehicle in which the other travellers rode along with a substitute driver, Colombia racer Cristian Moreno.
From the remotest places they "sent the world the message that alternative energy and dreams are both possible," a euphoric Moreno said.
First Published: Wednesday, November 24, 2010, 10:33