What I Did On My Holidays


Chapter 27

John Wayland's Electric Vehicles

   

An inescapable feature of visiting John Wayland is his passion for electric vehicles. Within two hours of meeting him for the first time, we had been driven in Red Beastie, deafened by Blue Meanie, impressed by the rest of his collection of EVs and awed by the NEDRA video of electric vehicles turning perfectly good tyres into white smoke and making the acceleration of Dodge Vipers look sedate. Part of this fun was the infectious enthusiasm of John as he introduced us to his toys.

And now for a brief description of them:

Firstly, there is Red Beastie, the workhorse of the collection. This is a red ute (or pickup on that side of the Pacific) with a four seater cab. It only seats four if the rear two passengers have no legs, but technically, there are four seats. The bed of this pickup is 80% batteries, which gives a range of something like 120 miles.* It has a sound system which keeps putting out great sound as you crank up the volume until either the body panels start vibrating or your eardrums distort in protest. The heater can put out enough heat the defrost windows and roast the passengers even in a Portland winter. The neat thing about EV heaters is that they can put out maximum heat as soon as you get into the car, there is no waiting for the engine to warm up. The only clue that this vehicle is electric from inside the cabin is the instrument panel which displays current and battery state rather the having a fuel gauge.

This is all part of the Wayland philosophy of EVs. In short, the basic tenets are: no golf carts, no travelling science projects and no compromises.

An EV should not have terrible acceleration and a top speed only marginally greater than a snail. This may be acceptable on the golf course, but not for a road using EV. One of John's favourite pastimes is shocking the V8 driving petrol heads who mistakenly believe they can leave an EV behind in the dust.

The travelling science project ban is really just an obvious safety and maintenance issue.  A tangle of wires under the bonnet held together with tape not only looks bad, but it is also dangerous, unreliable and impossible to maintain. This gives EVs a bad reputation, making them appealing only to wild haired, mad scientist types.

Finally, there should be no compromises. Using electro motive force to get around is no excuse for letting any of the other expected standards drop. The headlights, the windscreen wipers and the heater must all work.

And ye verily, this is how it is with Red Beastie and the rest of the Wayland EV collection. The wiring is neat and professional looking, the accessories work and even the Red Beastie, the lead sled, has good acceleration.
 

The next EV, in no particular order, is Blue Meanie. (Yes, John names all his cars) From the outside, it looks like a little old Datsun 1200 buzz box with a perfect paint job and a custom "VOLTS" number plate. Of course, now that it is electric, it would only buzz if you had a recording of a beehive playing on the stereo. This car has won awards for its sound system. There are speakers everywhere inside. It can also impress and depress the owners of cars that they thought were fast until they met Blue Meanie on the freeway.


From left to right: White Zombie, John Wayland and Blue Meanie.

Blue Meanie may be fast, but over a quarter mile, White Zombie is faster. This car is notionally street legal, but is dedicated to setting new world records in electric drag racing. At the time of typing, it held the world record in its class with a time of less than 13.5 seconds for the quarter mile. In non car nut's terms, this translates to really fast. John proudly showed us a NEDRA video that shows two things. A rapid fall in White Zombie's times and some very surprised ICE powered competitors. (ICE = Infernal Combustion Engine)


White Zombie - a car with attitude

The thing about an electric drive is that it can produce maximum torque in an instant, or at least much faster than an infernal combustion engine can manage a single revolution. And an electric motor can keep producing axle twisting, slam-you-into-the-seat acceleration from zero up to a nice high speed. In comparison, an ICE car must get the clutch to grip, wind up the engine revs toward peak torque and then it continues accelerating past peak torque. As a result, the NEDRA video shows roaring ICE age behemoths belching their way up the track and silent EVs launching from the line unnaturally fast making it look like the ICE age is over.

No EV collection would be complete without a few toys. How about a Heavy Metal Garden Tractor? Electric, thumping stereo, cool flaming paint job and ridiculously fun to drive. Or a couple of Zappy scooters. These are commercially available electric assisted scooters that can bring out the child in anyone silly enough to try one.


Foreground: Part of Marko's Fiamp
Behind from left to right: The Heavy Metal Garden Tractor, 
some Zappy scooters and gen set on a trailer for range extension


* EVs are like people in this respect. You can walk further than you can jog and jog further than you can sprint. An EV can achieve greater range with steady cruising than with drag racing at every set of lights and hooning and maximum speed. So the range figure is just an estimate. (back)


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