Team Goes For Electric Car Speed Record

A British team will try to break the speed record for electric-powered cars (search) weighing more than 2,200 pounds, using a vehicle that has 52 batteries and no mechanical gears.

Nevada agreed to shut down a state highway Thursday for the torpedo-shaped car's attempt to top 300 mph.

The record is 245 mph, set by an American team using a similarly streamlined car powered by thousands of "AA" batteries. That record was set in 1999 on Utah's Salt Flats (search), which are too wet at this time of year for speed racing.

Britons Mark Newby and Colin Fallows already have accelerated their car to 146 mph in just 1,000 yards — the longest, safest distance available to them in England. They say the test showed they can easily beat the world record.

The car uses compact, industrial motors and drives made by Swiss engineering company ABB Ltd. (search)

Newby, 46, a pilot who does acrobatic maneuvers, will drive the car. Fallows, 54, a retired Royal Air Force propulsion technician, designed the car.

Both assembled the vehicle in a barn in the English countryside using their own money from home equity loans.

"We think that at some point in the future, all cars will be electric, and we want to show you can go fast in an electric car," Newby said.

The "emotion" car has no mechanical gears, which are useful for acceleration but limit torque at top speeds. The car, using a variable speed transmission, is designed to top 300 mph on a pair of motors than can turn out 500 horsepower — as much as the 2005 Chevrolet Corvette with a 7-liter, V8 engine.

Nevada will shut down a 12-mile stretch of state Route 93A about 25 miles south of Wendover for the attempt.

Newby will make two runs. After the first, mechanics will replace the batteries and turn around the car for a second run. The speeds of each run will be averaged by agents for the Federation Internationale de L'Automobile, the motor sports governing body that will impound the car for an inspection after the attempt.

If they succeed, Fallows said there was no great prize awaiting them.

"Record breaking is the only business that when you achieve your goal, you're redundant. You wait for the next guy to break it. Then you can start over."