Tuesday, October 27th, 2009 by Simon Hackett
Today was ‘only’ 512 km’s, from Tennant Creek to Alice Springs.
After the experience of the huge drive to reach Tennant Creek, today felt positively ‘short’!
This distance needs only one recharge stop – so we set sail from Tennant Creek early, and arrived at Ti Tree four hours later.
That first run, driven by Emilis, was interesting. We awoke to a sky full of hazy dust, and this persisted until mid afternoon. It kept temperatures down, which meant that we had our first day with a maximum temperature merely in the low 30’s instead of the 38-41 we’ve had thus far. That made the trip a lot more comfortable.
The wind didn’t help, though, with it being a strong crosswind for much of this first leg. But overall we held to the consumption figures we’ve tended to get, at 145 Wh/km.
We added more charge than we needed at Ti Tree, while we had lunch, and then had an easy run in to Alice Springs for the remaining 190 km. We got in to Alice at about 4pm.
About 20 km before we reached Alice Springs, we were passed by our very first Solar Car, the leading team (obviously) – which at this time is Tokai University.
It must say that despite having seen a lot of the solar cars during track testing back in Darwin, the experience of being passed by one on the open road is really quite surreal. They are so alien a vehicle to see on an open road, let alone at the sheer speed they can travel using only the suns’ rays (they have to respect the speed limit, like everyone else – and if it wasn’t for that, they’d be going even faster than 130 km/h during the peak of the day!)
We were cruising along and first were passed by the media cars for the team, who took time to film us on the way past, then other support vehicles, and finally the solar car itself, closely followed by its ‘brain’ – another support vehicle right behind it.
Arriving in Alice Springs at the Crowne Plaza (our overnight stop and a solar car checkpoint) shortly after the Tokai University solar car got there, we joined the crowd taking a look at it, before I did a few media interviews about our progress in the Roadster.
We washed it (it got very dusty on the road today) and charged it up for tomorrow while we had dinner.
Tomorrow will be a big day – we’re going to have a quiet crack at exceeding the current distance record for a production electric vehicle (in the mid 400’s). If the weather is kind to us (in particular if we can avoid a severe headwind), we’ll take a crack at it. It will be a very long day – so its likely we’ll be unable to report on the outcome until very late Tuesday or perhaps first thing Wednesday.
Wish us well – and we’ll see how we go!
Here’s a gallery from today.