A consortium made up of specialist UK vehicle manufacturers, a green consultancy and an eco-friendly vehicle rental company has just launched a new project to road test 14 high performance electric vehicles (EV) for the next 12 months. Every aspect of performance will be closely monitored as the drivers taking part in the EEMS Accelerate project put the vehicles through the same kind of dynamic driving conditions encountered by users of regular road cars. The gathered data is to be published and used by government officials to help boost green transport manufacture in the UK.
The Energy Efficient Motorsport (EEMS) program was established by the UK government in 2004 to accelerate the development and public acceptance of green automotive technologies. The latest project - called EEMS Accelerate - is one of eight collaborative efforts to be chosen for part-funding by the government's Technology Strategy Board under its Carbon Vehicles Demonstration Program, and aims to showcase high performance, low emission vehicles that have been designed and built in the UK. Led by energy and climate change consultants AEA Technology, the project aims to motivate industry to invest in an electric automotive future while also challenging any misgivings and preconceptions held by the public, motorsport enthusiasts and specialists.
There are four British-designed, sporty, two-seater EVs being used in the trial and - being a dedicated Prisoner fan - my vehicle of choice would likely be the Westfield Sport E. It's the slowest of the bunch (with a top speed of 100 mph/160 kph) and its Lithium Ion Phosphate batteries offer the least range (100 miles/160 km), but its classic Lotus Seven charm and beauty more than make up for such considerations. It'll go from zero to 60 mph (96 kph) in about seven seconds, benefits from rear-wheel direct drive motors and has only one drawback for this road trial - as the sky behind the photo above shows only too well, the open-top design is not exactly UK-weather-friendly.
The Ecotricity Nemesis is probably most people's idea of what a modern road racer should look like. According to the EEMS Accelerate specs, it can get from zero to 60 mph in about four seconds, has a top speed of about 135 mph (217 kph) and benefits from 250kWh Lithium polymer battery technology.
The four-wheel-drive Delta E-4 Coupe model is said to produce 2000 Nm of torque, with the two-wheel-drive unsurprisingly offering half that. Its 50kWh Lithium Ion Phosphate Batteries give an average range of between 150 and 200 miles (241 - 321 km) per charge and its Oxford Yasa electric motor takes it from zero to 60 mph in less than five seconds and gives it a top speed of 139 mph (223 kph).
The Electric Lightning GT is probably the one James Bond would drive. Its said to produce 4,400 Nm of torque, will run for 180 miles (289 km) on a single charge of its Lithium Titanate batteries, can go from zero to 60 mph in less than five seconds and has a top speed of 130 mph (209 kph).
Operational support for all of the vehicles during the trial is being provided by environmentally-friendly car and van rental company Green Motion.
While we await the first batch of performance data, have a look at a prototype of the Westfield car in action at the Stoneleigh Kit Car Show in 2010: