The Buckeye Bullet, a student project at Ohio State University, is the first electric car to exceed 300 mph. It set a new US record of 315 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats. The vehicle is 10 meters long and is powered by a 250-kW motor supplied by a 900 V battery system. The new record holder, the Buckeye Bullet, travelled 272 mph over the Bonneville Salt Flats on one desert-bright October day. Later in the same week, it was clocked at 315 mph for a new U.S. record. According to Dan Warner, the association representative who certified the times, the international record allows unlimited run-up distance and then times the vehicle through a flying mile. The record is based on the vehicle’s best average time in both directions over the same mile.
It took five years and a few tries, but the world speed record for heavy electric cars just got faster.
The new record holder, the Buckeye Bullet, traveled 272 mph over the Bonneville Salt Flats on one desert-bright October day. Later in the same week, it was clocked at 315 mph for a new U.S. record. That translates to 438 kilometers an hour and 507 km/h, respectively. The driver was Roger Schroer, who is also the manager of the driver instruction program at Transportation Research Center Inc., an automotive proving ground in East Liberty, Ohio.
Schroer is one of fewer than 60 people in the 300-mph Chapter of the Bonneville 200-mph Club. One of the mel11.bers is Andy Green, a former RAF pilot, who set the all-time land speed record. He drove Thrust SSC, a jet-propelled car that reached Mach 1.017 seven years ago on the Black Rock Desert in Nevada.
The old electric car world record, set by White Lightning in 1999, was 245.5 mph. At times in recent months there almost seemed to be a jinx on trying to beat it. White Lightning also set a U.S. speed record five years ago, and that was overturned by the Buckeye Bullet last year, with Craig Taylor as the driver. He heads Taylor Race Engineering in Plano, Texas.
The car gets its name because the Buckeye Bullet Land Speed Racing Team is made up of 12 students at Ohio State University in Columbus. The team leader is a junior year ME student, Isaac Harper. The project, begun four years ago, is based in the university's Center for Automotive Research, whose director, Giorgio Rizzoni, serves as the team's adviser.
The Bullet weighs about as much as a sedan, 4,000 pounds, but looks almost nothing like one. The body of the car is 31 feet long, almost 10 meters. It competes in the top group for electric vehicles, Class III, for cars over 1,000 kg, or 2,200 pounds. The body is carbon fiber over a chassis of 4130 chromoly steel.
Rizzoni, an ASME member and former chair of the Dynamic Systems and Control Division, said that the students are cagy about what's inside.
He said that the motor is rated for a steady output of 250 kW, just over 330 hp, but added that it can be pushed much farther than that. Because the race requires a short burst of power—lasting a couple of minutes—the motor can run significantly harder and hotter without damage than a motor that works over a sustained period of time.
Energy is stored in a 900-volt system of nickel metal hydride batteries, "similar to those used in commercially produced hybrid vehicles," Rizzoni said. A converter provided by Saminco of Fort Myers, Fla., switches the direct current from the batteries into the ac power that the motor needs.
The world and U.S. records have different conditions, although both are certified by the Southern California Tinting Association/Bonneville Nationals Inc. According to Dan Warner, the association representative who certified the times, the international record allows unlimited run-up distance and then times the vehicle through a "flying mile." There is a flying kilometer timed within the mile. The car must cover the n1.easured portion of the track in both directions within 60 minutes. Warner, network adrninistrator for Electro Rent Corp. in Van Nuys, Calif., said the international certifying body, the Federation Internationale del Automobile, had no official on site, so the performance stands as a BNI record set to international standards.
The U.S. record track is five miles long. Two are for getting up to speed before the car enters three measured miles where it is timed. The car passes in both directions, with a minimum four-hour wait in between. The record is based on the vehicle's best average time in both directions over the same mile.
The Buckeyes and a British team each took a shot at the world record earlier this year, and both atten1pts had to be called off.
The Primetime Electric Land Speed Record Team operates a car, E-Motion, sponsored by ABB. After setting a U.K. speed record, the team went to Tunisia in June to attempt the world record, but late rains delayed the hardening of the mud below the salt crust, rendering the track unfit for competition.
The Ohio team was at Bonneville in August, but a damaged differential stopped them. A replacement, made by R.T. Quaife Engineering Ltd., had to be sent from England and could not arrive in time.
For the last quarter-mile of its U.S. record run, the Bullet averaged 322 mph, almost 520 kilometers an hour That's 2 mph faster than the best time published for France's bullet train. As a result, the team members have begun to say that their car is the fastest electric vehicle on Earth.