ABB-Powered Electric Car Attempts to Break Land Speed Record in United States

ABB e=motion team confident of success in Nevada on May 5

Apr 21, 2005, 01:00 ET from ABB

    NORWALK, Conn., April 21 /PRNewswire/ -- A high-speed electrical car,
 powered by ABB motors and drives, will attempt to break the land speed record
 for an electrical vehicle on May 5 in Nevada, U.S.
     (Logo: )
     The 32-foot (10 meter) long, mustard-yellow ABB e=motion car will try to
 beat the current official FIA (Federation Internationale d'Automobile)
 electric land speed record of 245 mph (394 kph) and become the first-ever
 electrically powered vehicle to break the 300 mph (483 kph) barrier.
     The car, whose main sponsor is the global engineering company ABB, will
 make the record attempt on a closed, secured section of paved road near the
 city of West Wendover, northeastern Nevada.
     The FIA, the world's leading motorsports ruling body, will monitor and
 certify the attempt. To qualify as an official land speed record under FIA
 rules, the car must perform two recorded runs at better than 252 mph over a
 distance of 0.622 miles (one kilometer).
     The e=motion car is the brainchild of Britons Mark Newby and Colin
 Fallows. It has already delivered spectacular acceleration during tests in the
 U.K., easily reaching 146 mph (237 kph) in just 1,000 yards (914 meters) - the
 longest distance available to the team in the U.K. - and unofficially breaking
 the 139 mph U.K. record for an electric vehicle.
     "With this sort of performance, we're confident that our car will easily
 beat the existing electric car land speed record," says Newby.
     The ABB e=motion car has no mechanical gears - acceleration is controlled
 entirely by ABB variable speed drives regulating two 50-horsepower electric
 motors from ABB. "ABB technology has put this car in the super-speed league,
 and demonstrates our unique ability to meet unusual technology challenges with
 a pioneering spirit," said Ron Kurtz, ABB U.S. spokesman.
     The current FIA electric car record is held by the White Lightning team
 from the U.S. Other record  attempts have been made, but not under FIA rules.
     An ABB e=motion attempt to break the record on salt flats of Tunisia in
 2004 was postponed after the surface was deemed unsafe due to unusual weather
 conditions, but there are no such doubts about the road in Nevada.
     Further information about the e=motion record attempt, including pictures
 and additional technical detail, is available on ABB's Web
 site ( ).
     ABB e=motion: key technical data
     An ABB industrial drive and two 50 horsepower AC motors will be used to
 power ABB e=motion The motors produce a combined output of more than 500bhp
 (brake horsepower, i.e. power measured at a vehicle's crankshaft).
     As a comparison with gasoline-driven cars, the new Chevrolet Corvette,
 launched this year is fitted with a 7.0-litre (427-cubic-inch) V8 engine that
 produces 500bhp.
     ABB's system uses a regenerative standard inverter from its ACS800 motor
 drives line to convert the 600V DC (direct current) output from the car's four
 packs of 52 lead-acid batteries into AC (alternating current) power for the
 two motors.
     To prevent overheating during the record attempt, each motor has been
 adapted to include a forced-ventilation system that is comprised of a series
 of 24-volt DC fans, to help keep the motors below their maximum operating
 temperature of 180 degrees C (356 degrees F). ABB sensors fitted to each motor
 winding provide real-time information about motor temperatures and help
 protect the motors.
     High torque for immediate acceleration
     Fast acceleration is the key to the record attempt. For this reason, ABB's
 motor/drive system also uses the company's Direct Torque Control drive
 technology, which provides excellent control of motor torque, with full motor
 torque available even at zero speed.
     "Other challengers to the record commonly use gear-driven systems in their
 cars to achieve the fastest possible acceleration, whereas the technology
 we've supplied steadily controls torque across the whole speed range," says
 Frank Griffith, one of the ABB team who helped to develop the car's power
 system. "Although a geared vehicle can achieve 100 mph in a few seconds, its
 rate of acceleration falls away much more quickly compared to our system; this
 one will continue to accelerate even past the 300 mph mark, provided
 sufficient battery power is available."
     Design challenges in building the car
     Newby and Fallows struggled for 18 months to find a company that could
 supply the equipment needed to power the car, before contacting ABB in
 November 2002.
     "Of the companies we originally approached, none could provide either the
 technology or expertise that justified a world record attempt of this
 magnitude," said Fallows who designed the car. "We initially approached ABB
 because we were aware of the company's profile in the world of electrical
 engineering. Its solution, based on standard industrial motors and drives,
 proved extremely compact, which was very important as we only had a limited
 amount of space available in the car."
     One of the biggest challenges was the need to simulate the vehicle
 dynamics and performance likely to be experienced during the record attempt
 without physically testing the car on a track.
     "Likely performance was modeled and calculated using a set of estimated
 conditions involving factors such as rolling resistance, drag and battery
 discharge rate," says Griffith. "Much of this information either did not exist
 or else had to be extrapolated from data found on the Internet."
     To help fine-tune the system's performance, ABB used data from the two
 independent four-channel data loggers incorporated within the drive.
     "The data loggers enabled us to improve the performance of our system in
 the same way as Formula One teams do with their cars," explains Steve Malpass,
 a member of the ABB design team. "One of the data loggers was set to a rapid
 sampling rate of one sample per millisecond to record all the actual events as
 they happened.
     "By setting the other logger to a slower rate, we were able to record
 information on trends that occurred throughout the test runs, which provided
 us with an overall picture of how the car was performing."
     Environmental benefits
     ABB is the world's largest manufacturer of electric motors and drives.
 They are designed to be environmentally friendly, reducing energy costs for
 customers and sharply cutting emissions. The company's variable speed AC
 drives, installed around the world, cut global C02 emissions by an annual
 total of 68 million tons - equivalent to the emissions of a country the size
 of Finland. The energy saved is annual equivalent to the output of ten average
 sized power plants.
     ABB has a massive installed base of these drives - more than one million
 in the past 20 years.
     ABB ( ) is a leader in power and automation technologies that
 enable utility and industry customers to improve performance while lowering
 environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100
 countries and employs about 102,000 people. The company's U.S. operations
 employ nearly 10,000 in manufacturing and other facilities in 30 states.