SALT LAKE CITY — A British team trying to set a speed record for an electric car gave up Saturday because the mustard-yellow, torpedo-shaped vehicle wouldn’t start for a third morning in a row.
They plan to return next year for another try at topping 300 mph.
The 34-foot-long “e=motion” car ran well in England and on a single practice run on a desert highway about 120 miles west of Salt Lake City, but then suffered a series of baffling electrical problems.
“In the end, we realized that whatever it was was not fixable at this particular moment in time so we’ve abandoned the attempt,” driver Mark Newby said Saturday.
Engineers working around the clock were able to start the car in a warm garage, but it shorted out on the test track.
First they blamed a battery problem, then condensation inside a drive controller, which sends battery power to the car’s electric motors. On Saturday another problem occurred in the controller unit in the nose of the car.
Newby said he hoped to find out what exactly went wrong when the car is inspected after returning to Great Britain.
“We were all fired up and ready to go,” Newby said. “The problem is in the area of one of the circuit boards, but we’re not sure exactly what’s causing it.”
Insurance and the team’s permit to use a 7.2-mile stretch of the highway both expired Saturday. They were trying to break the record on a remote stretch of Nevada highway about 40 miles south of West Wendover, Nev., a small casino town just across the Utah state line.
The “e=motion” sponsor, ABB, a Swiss manufacturer of industrial motors and robots, supplied a pair of industrial motors for the car that can briefly turn out 500 horsepower — as much as a 2005 Corvette with a 7-liter V8 engine.
The electricity to spin the motors came from a set of 52 batteries, which put the vehicle in the more-than-2,200-pound record attempt class.
The current record for an electric car is 245 mph, set by an American team in 1999 using a similarly streamlined car powered by thousands of “AA” batteries. That record, sanctioned by the Federation Internationale de L’Automobile, was set on Utah’s nearby Bonneville Salt Flats, which are too wet at this time of year for speed trials.