With electric cars, the response would more often than not usually be relating to the range. With Don Wales' Electric Bluebird, the answer might instead be 150 miles per hour. Maybe even 175 miles per hour.
If the name Bluebird is familiar to you, then you'll probably associate it with the legendary Sir Malcolm Campbell, one of the early land speed record pioneers. In his various Bluebird vehicles he set a series of Land Speed records, and indeed water speed records.
Don Wales is one of Sir Malcolm's grandchildren (and the nephew of the late Sir Donald Campbell, who was killed in an accident whilst breaking a water speed record), so speed clearly runs in the family. In these eco-minded times though, only an electric-powered record breaker will do, and that's where the Bluebird electric car comes in. Don has the current land speed record for electric cars at 139mph, and it's stood for ten years. With competition getting closer and closer, Don has decided to raise the bar even further.
"I want to set the UK record well beyond 150mph, the speed Sir Malcolm clocked in 1925. Ideally I'd like to match his record of 1927 - 175mph."
The 139mph record was set on the hard and flat sands of the historic Pendine Sands in Wales, where many previous land speed records had been set before the salt flats of Bonneville and later Black Rock Desert. The new record attempt will be held in the same place. Project director Martin Rees said: "Taking the car back to Pendine next Spring with improved drive and bodywork will be another chapter in the Campbell and Wales and Pendine story."
175mph isn't the ultimate goal though, as Don will be aiming to go even faster in 2012. And not just by a little - the 200, 300, 400 and even 500mph barriers are expected to fall, and new designs for the Bluebird are currently being considered. The high speed records will replicate the move to salt flats taken by internal combustion and jet-engined record breakers though, with a 9 mile course giving the extra room needed over Pendine's 4 miler.
The new electric records will add nicely to Don's résumé - he currently holds the land speed records for lawnmowers and steam-powered cars too, at 87.833mph and 148mph respectively!
It's worth noting that it's not just Don Wales who has a history of speed - electric cars are no stranger to land speed record attempts either. You might not have heard of any, but the very first land speed record ever set, back in December 1898, was set by the French driver Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat in an electric Jeantaud Duc. The speed? A heady 39.24 miles per hour. A month later he achieved a positively breathtaking 43.69mph in the same vehicle!
Check out a video of the Bluebird Electric below: