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Katherine with range to spare

Saturday, October 24th, 2009 by

Well, that was quite a day! I’m very happy with our efforts today. We’re tired but happy.

Charging on day one

Charging on day one

We arrived at State Square in Darwin (in front of Parliament House) after charging up this morning and having the car scrutineered.

We left first, with lots of media in attendance to watch us glide quietly away before being followed along the road by the more conventional vehicles.

And… we got to Katherine – without recharging.

On the road on day one

On the road on day one

The statistics:

338.8km’s driven at an average of 143 Wh/Km, for a total of 48.44 kW of energy consumed for the day.

We had 50 km’s worth of range left when reached Katherine, for an implied total range today of 389km’s.

Shade temperature today was 40 Celcius most of the day (and humid as well). So if we can turn in a reasonable effort in such a hot (and hilly, and windy) drive as we did today, this bodes well for the results further down the track to the South, where it should become progressively cooler (after a 40 C day, anything seems cooler).

At the end of the stage today, we pulled up with the other cars at the stage end point – the BP station in Katherine.

Why am I here?

Why am I here?

Astute readers will appreciate that the Roadster doesn’t actually need to pull up at a petrol station – but that was the stage endpoint, so thats where we pulled up – at least today. On subsequent stages we’ll skip the petrol station on the basis that its just… not… right… :)

So – off to the Parc Ferme’ at our hotel for the night, where we set up the genset and started charging the car around 6pm.

By about 9.30pm the trip computer said we’d come back up to 378 km’s of estimated range, more than enough for our first planned leg tomorrow.

The way we’ve planned things for Katherine to Tennant Creek – for that that monster distance of 688 km’s – is to stop to recharge twice along the way, at Daly Waters and Renner Springs – at roughly the one-third and two-thirds points along the total path. We’ll have brunch at Daly Waters and an early dinner at Renner Springs.

While the recharge times should be pretty sensible (likely to be around 1.5 to 2 hours at each stop), these stops mean our average speed ‘end to end’ (due to the stops) will be somewhat lower than it was today.

But thats just how it is – most people don’t get up in the morning planning to drive an EV for 688 km’s under any circumstances – so I consider myself privileged to have the opportunity to do so at all, let alone doing so across this most incredible terrain.

In addition to various sorts of very interesting flora and fauna we passed along the way, we also passed (and were passed by) our fair share of Road Trains – those amazing vehicles that simply thunder along the highway, carrying huge loads…

A typical road train

A typical road train

Emilis and I are having as ball in the car, despite the temperature – its just like times we’ve spent soaring in gliders in competitions in the past – a very similar mental process ensues, of exploring the energy consumption of the vehicle at various speeds, with various winds, on various slopes – and today gave us a wide sampling of all of the above!

Also, for soaring pilots, there was the mandatory staring at the sky – in which there were massive cumulous clouds at what was at least 15,000 feet. The eagles were having a ball up there.

The various other cars in the Eco challenge turned in various fuel consumption figures using petrol, diesel and (in the case of the Top Gear Australia entry – a postie bike), Metholated Sprits…!

But my own focus was of course on Watt Hours per Km – and I’m really happy with our initial effort.

We’ve sought and received dispensation to depart earlier than the other vehicles tomorrow (7am rather than 8am) to get moving as soon as we have daylight, in order to finish at a rational time (due to the time needed for those intermediate recharging stops).

One other driver said to me after the stage today that he wondered if we’d had to recharge today, because he saw us stopped at a roadhouse at Adelaide River, part way down todays’ road path; Nope – we’d just stopped for an ice block and some more cold water (did I mention how hot it was?).

The locals at Adelaide River were most impressed with this red sports car that turned up silently and slid away again shortly thereafter – with almost no sound, no exhaust. I felt (and I feel) proud to be able to do this. Its a real adventure for us all.

Bring on tomorrow!

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