Austin, Tex.--They get pulled over quite a bit.
That's the word from Alex Schey, the project manager of Racing Green Endurance, a group that is driving an electric sports car called the SRZero 16,000 miles from Alaska to Argentina.
"So far, we've been stopped by cops 15 times," he said. "They just want to take pictures."
The group -- which grew out of work conducted by Schey and others at Imperial College London -- designed the car to help make consumers aware that electric cars can be both functional and stylish. In addition to posting their own blog and conducting interviews, the drivers are being followed by a team filming a documentary that may air on BBC News in the future. When they finish in a few weeks, the group will then sit down, study the results and attempt to incubate a startup, possibly around the battery management system or the battery pack designed for the car. We met up with them in Austin at NI Week, a conference sponsored by test and measurement giant National Instruments. (NI supplied hardware for the battery management system; Racing Green Endurance created the software.)
"In the past, everyone had these perceived ideas that electric cars were boring and slow and had funny names," he said.
The SRZero contains a 54 kilowatt-hour lithium ion phosphate battery, which is more than double the size of the battery of the Nissan Leaf and a single kilowatt-hour larger than the battery in the Tesla Roadster, and can drive 350 miles on a charge. They body of the car is a modified Radical SR8, one of the fastest gas-burning cars in the world.
While it can go farther than the Tesla Roadster on a single charge, the maiden version of the SRZero going to Argentina doesn't accelerate like it, or even like a regular high-end sports car. It takes six to seven seconds to go from zero to 60 miles per hour. But that's because the group deliberately left out the gearbox. The motor right now connects directly to the wheels. When the group completes the drive, a fixed-gear gearbox will be added that will allow the car to go from zero to 60 in three seconds.
"This smashes the Tesla in terms of range and it will smash the Tesla in acceleration," he joked.
After Texas, the group will head to Mexico, Guatemala, the Central American chain, Colombia and other South American nations.