Testing begins to break UK land-speed record

Nick Ponting tested the electric car, Nemesis this week Picture: Carl Hewlett

Nick Ponting tested the electric car, Nemesis this week Picture: Carl Hewlett Buy this photo

First published in Sport by

THE first electric super car – the ‘Nemesis’ – designed and built entirely in the UK, underwent test runs this week in preparation for an attempt on the UK electric car land-speed record.

The current record – 137mph – was set by the grandson of legendary speed-merchant Sir Malcolm Campbell.

The ‘Nemesis’ is the brainchild of Dale Vince OBE, who founded the world’s first green electricity company, Ecotricity, in Stroud , and was driven by local racing-car driver Nick Ponting.

Starting in go-karts at the age of 12, Ponting received his race licence at 14 and the now 21-year-old has experience across a range of racing cars from Formula BMWs to Formula Fords.

Powered entirely by 100% green electricity made by Ecotricity’s network of 53 windmills around the UK, the ‘Nemesis’ was designed and built in less than two years by an ‘A-team’ of leading British motorsport engineers in Norfolk.

Unlike a combustion engine, electric car’s have 100% torque from a standing start and in initial speed tests last year the road-legal Nemesis did 0-100mph in 8.5 seconds and reached speeds just under the current UK landspeed record before aerodynamic lift issues needed to be addressed by the engineers back in Norfolk.

Ponting said: "The car has been proven at 134mph previously but the front end started to get a little light.

"The team in Norfolk have made changes which should improve stability, they’ve added a splitter on the front to keep the nose down and fitted high speed tyres."

Experienced in powerful single-seater racing cars with a top speed of around 165mph, Ponting said he hoped to far outdo those speeds in the Nemesis when they went for the record.

"The Nemesis is potentially capable of 216mph. I’ve raced at 165mph but that was wheel to wheel racing and this will just be in a straight-line on an airport runway."

The Nemesis can travel from 100-150 miles between charges depending on driving style and can be charged from empty in under 2 hours from a fast charger or 8-9 hours from a regular mains supply.

Mr Vince said: "We built the ‘Nemesis’ to smash the stereotype of electric cars as something Noddy would drive – slow, boring, not cool.

"So we set out to build an electric supercar to demonstrate that wind-powered cars are not just feasible but will be a load of fun. To stimulate thought and debate about how we’ll be getting around when the world runs out of oil."

Last summer the grandson of Sir Malcolm Campbell, Don Wales, attempted to break his own 137mph UK land speed record for an electric car – but ran into trouble on the beach at Pendine Sands in Carmarthenshire.

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