Range Anxiety? Brit Proves Electric Cars Can Go The Distance

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David Peilow and the 2011 Tesla Roadster Sport 2.5 arrives in Edinburgh 18 hours after leaving London on epic 400+ mile trip

David Peilow and the 2011 Tesla Roadster Sport 2.5 arrives in Edinburgh 18 hours after leaving London on epic 400+ mile trip

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Yesterday we covered the unexpected electric car challenge from a Tesla fan to the BBC journalist driving the 400+ mile trip from London to Edinburgh in a prototype 2009 MINI E

David Peilow, a regular at TeslaMotorsClub.Com, took some time off from his work to prove that not all electric cars were slow and impractical for long-distance driving.  In a brilliantly engineered publicity stunt, he left the London Tesla Showroom early yesterday morning and headed north, aiming to reach Edinburgh in Scotland by midnight. 

Succeeding in his quest, Peilow arrived yesterday, completing the entire trip including recharges, in around 18 hours. 

In contrast, the BBC’s Brian Milligan was last seen complaining on the BBC’s website about the way the MINI E’s range was affected by cold weather and use of the car’s heater.  Milligan left London on Monday, but has still to arrive at his Edinburgh finish.

BBC Correspondent complains about MINI E

BBC Correspondent complains about MINI E

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As we pointed out yesterday, the difference between the two methods of travel are quite obvious. Milligan chose to only use public level 2 charging outlets capable of providing at most 3 kilowatts of power. On the other hand Peilow chose to make use of higher power level 2 charging stations capable of providing between 7.3 and 16 kilowatts of power. 

Hardly an equal race, but that wasn’t the point behind the challenge. Peilow and a group of increasingly frustrated electric vehicle advocates are tackling the BBC’s continued scepticism and lack of support of electric cars. 

The group, including EV advocate and Actor Robert Llewellyn objected to the blanket generalization that the BBC has applied over the past few years to electric cars, essentially  ignoring differences between a Tesla Roadster and a city runabout such as the G-Wiz.

But even in the face of defeat, the BBC has apparently chosen to ignore Peilow’s success. 

Yesterday, Milligan acknowledged on his MINI E blog that a challenger had left London in a Tesla to prove him wrong.

Regular tweets from both Peilow and his supporters to the BBC kept him updated of their progress and ultimate success. But on the BBC’s flagship breakfast program this morning there was no mention of the Tesla’s journey, only Milligan’s continued frustrations at the long charging times, slow driving and cold weather affecting the MINI E’s trip. 

Mini E electric vehicle - start button and speedometer

Mini E electric vehicle - start button and speedometer

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In some ways, Milligan’s frustrations are valid, but not true of all electric cars. The MINI E is a prototype electric car. It does not have any thermal battery management, meaning cold weather does affect its range as battery packs drop below peak operating temperature. 

In contrast, the 2011 Tesla Roadster Sport 2.5 driven by David Peilow is a production car featuring thermal battery management, meaning the car’s battery pack is at peak operating temperature at all times and suffers very little in moderately cold weather, as we’ve proven in the past.

So what do we learn from all of this? 

David Peilow Drives Tesla Roadster on Long-Distance Challenge

David Peilow Drives Tesla Roadster on Long-Distance Challenge

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Firstly, that thermal battery management is important to electric cars in order to allow them to function correctly in cold weather.

Secondly, long distance trips are practical in electric cars, but only if high power level 2 or ultra-fast level 3 charging stations are deployed by governments worldwide. Given the apparent infrequency of long-distance trips like this in the average person’s daily life however, we can’t see it being a problem for most consumers. 

On behalf of everyone at HighGearMedia, we’d like to congratulate David Peilow on his fantastic achievement.

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Comments (12)
  1. Is is "Pielow" or "Peilow" as you seem to use both spellings?

  2. The Tesla has proved to be the best current EV on sale. But I still don't see how anyone can say taking 18 hours to travel 400 miles is efficient - certainly in terms of the driver. Green - yes, efficient - no.

  3. What are the different levels and speeds of charging, and how fast are they on an average EV battery? And where does UK domestic charging fall on the same scale?
    I presume UK domestic (i.e. normal household plug socket) is the slowest apart from the US's lower voltage, but since most EV news is currently coming from the US after the LEAF launch, it can be hard to sort out...

  4. UK homes would have no problem supplying Tesla's 9.6kw medium speed charger, as houses have at least a 60amp fuse
    Most modern and larger homes would have no issue running the 16kw fast charge as they will have a 100a fuse or even three-phase (in the case of very large homes)
    The only thing these homes would be unlikely to have would be a suitable power socket, however the standard "ceeform" sockets are widely available

  5. Calling Brian Milligan a journalist, is a bit generous on your part. The video where he shows how he had to bundle up to drive the Mini E is a complete sham. No condensate from his breath, the water in the parking lot isn't frozen and the couple walking their dog in the background aren't wearing hats. This is completely staged and isn't journalism. It's acting and not very good at that. How can he be trusted, when he employs obvious deception to demonstrate the deficiencies of EVs?
    The sad part is, many people will point to this as proof that EVs are useless.

  6. JL: You can work it out. Power is voltage times current. Charge time is capacity divided by power (though you lose some).
    The US 120V outlet is rated up to 15A = 1.8 kW. The 240V dryer outlet is rated for 30A = 7.2 kW, and for electric cookers, 50A (12 kW).
    The UK socket BS 1363 is rated for 13A at 240V = 3.12 kW. The round-pin plugs used in Europe are rated to 16A at 230V, 3.68 kW.
    The public charge points are largely being built to BS 1363 despite that connector not really being suitable for outdoor use, and its relatively low power delivery.
    The CHAdeMO connector proposed for Level 3 charging is specified at 62.5 kW (DC) and the competing Mennekes proposal at about 72 kW.

  7. (Sorry for double post)
    Delivering 28 kWh (Mini E specification) takes:
    US Level 1: 15.5 hrs
    UK Level 2:

  8. Whoa... "Not all Electrics are slow and impractical" ??? 400 miles in 18 hours is 22 mile per hour... That is freakn' slow dude. And you are using a $110,000 USD Tesla for 22 mph. My little Honda fit at $15,900 has already done 400 miles in 5.5 hours. I did have to stop for gas once which took 10 minutes. Traffic was light on I94 West. Set the cruise at 75mph and cranked the tunes.

  9. "400 miles in 18 hours is 22 mile per hour... That is freakn' slow dude"
    Unfortunately, Jimza really believes that it takes 18 hours to drive a Tesla 400 miles. With proper charging apparatus, it would (using his 75MPH rate, which is slow for a Tesla) , it actually would require 8.8 hours for the Tesla to get there. It could actually, had it needed to, have driven 500 miles in 10 hours, averaging 50 MPH. Jimza needs to read up on EVs before mouthing off. The price for electricity to go those 400 miles where I'm at would cost less than $10. The gas costs for the Honda would have been around $40.

  10. Here's the deal, I will challenge Tesla to a 600 mile race for "Pink Slips" Production Tesla versus Production Honda Fit.
    Yeah $40 gas versus $10 electricity is a savings. What about $110,000 Tessie - $15,995 Honda Fit? I can take the extra $94K, invest in a tobacco or alcohol stock and return about $8,000 year.
    KB needs an econ 101 refresher.

  11. And how much is someone's time worth? I know my time is worth far more than standing around waiting for a car to charge.
    The general motoring public is never going to buy electric cars even if there are charge stations at every corner. If it takes hours to charge, it is not worth someone's time.
    You can fill up a normal car in 5 minutes or less. Then go another 400 miles at FREEWAY speeds. Not averaging a ridiculous 40 or 50 mph.
    Until EV's can be charged in the same amount of time and offer substantially more range, they are going to be the pets of eco geeks and no more.
    There is a serious impracticality issue with these vehicles that simply cannot be seen by the myopic, electric car evangelists. Putting your fingers in your ears and covering your eyes is not going to help.

  12. @ Bert @ JImza
    Yor assuming this tech is it, that the batteries will never be cheaper and will never have a larger range and that super capacitors and Jfe engineerings 5 minute chargers will never happen.
    Essentially this journalist is telling people what they need not offering objective reports. My own mother never ventures any more than 40 miles in her traditional mini, this car would suit her. Would it suit a travelling salesman? NO...would a volt yes

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