Green energy company Ecotricity has launched the first high performance electric sports car designed and built entirely in the UK.
The wind energy-powered ‘Nemesis’ was created, developed and built in less than two years by an ‘A-team’ of leading-edge British Formula One engineers in Norfolk.
Ecotricity founder and MD Dale Vince OBE commissioned the car in August 2008 with the brief to “blow the socks off Jeremy Clarkson and smash the stereotype of electric cars”.
Faster than a V12 Ferrari, the Nemesis has done 0-100 mph in 8.5 seconds and can reach 170 mph.
The Nemesis will be powered entirely by 100% green electricity made by Ecotricity’s UK network of 51 wind turbines. It runs for between 100-150 miles between charges depending on driving style and can be charged from empty in under 2 hours from its fast charger or 8-9 hours from a regular mains supply, both via hidden retractable cable systems built into the rear of the car.
The ‘Nemesis’ development team has between them developed some of the most inspiring sports cars of this century – the McLaren F1, the Lotus Elan, the Corvette 2R1, the Jaguar XJR15 and the De Lorean. They also problem-solve for the world’s top motor sports teams, yet not one of them had ever worked on electric cars before.
The ‘donor’ car – a secondhand Lotus Exige – was bought on eBay and rebuilt from the ground up to become the Nemesis. The engineers lengthened the chassis by 90mm, lowered and shifted the centre of gravity forward, fitted a cluster of 96 lithium-ion polymer cells, two brushless motors, a completely new transmission, and a lot of electronic wizardry. Several patents to protect the unique design have already been applied for.
Their view is that no large car company could have developed anything like this so rapidly or for the sub-£1m budget it has cost. Unlike the big car companies that have spent years and hundreds of millions on research and development, the Nemesis team were able to keep it small and make decisions quickly, unhindered by conventional car thinking.
The technology developed for the Nemesis will be incorporated into Ecotricity’s next projects, a no-holds-barred 250 mph+ wind-powered electric supercar, and an electric tractor to address the next big issue of how we feed ourselves post-oil.
The team plans to challenge the British electric car land speed record in 2011 and Vince is confident that Nemesis will comfortably break the 139 mph set by Don Wales, grandson of Malcolm Campbell and nephew of Donald Campbell, in Bluebird Electric in August 2000.
The Nemesis is part-funded by the Technology Strategy Board under its Ultra Low Carbon Vehicles Demonstration Programme, which aims to carry out real world testing of British-designed and built, ultra-low carbon electric vehicles.
The Nemesis will now begin an ‘on the road’ demonstration and testing period until December 2011, where every aspect of its performance including a variety of drive cycles will be monitored by an on-board ‘black box’.
Dale Vince, voted Britain’s leading green entrepreneur, set up Ecotricity to fight climate change and increase the security of our energy supply by building new sources of green energy in the UK. He believes tackling emissions from the transport sector is vital and is a committed advocate of electric motoring.
“We wanted to prove electric cars can be quick to develop, beautiful to look at, cheap to run, and run entirely on wind power”, said Dale Vince. “I was not looking for something ecological, worthy and a bit self-sacrificial, far from it. I wanted to create something exotic and desirable. Something that would turn heads and challenge stereotypes.”
“In the UK we drive about 200 billion miles a year, and burn more than 25 million tons of oil to do it. This is simply unsustainable. Nearly a quarter of all the car trips we make are less than two miles, and 99.6% are less than 100 miles – well within the range of electric cars already available.
“What will our transport look like, post oil and post carbon? The answer has to be wind-powered vehicles, charged using renewable energy for the ultimate in sustainability – zero pollution, from fuel sources like the wind and sun that will never run out. In fact, we could power all of the UK’s 30 million cars with 10,000 of today’s windmills – or just 5,000 of tomorrow’s.”
The Nemesis can be seen publicly for the first time taking part in the RAC’s Brighton to London Future Car Challenge on Saturday 6 November 2010, a new event designed to demonstrate and challenge the development of new technology for tomorrow’s motoring.
Dale Vince will drive the Nemesis the 60 mile route between London and Brighton, the reverse route of the traditional Veteran run the following day, finishing in front of a predicted 250,000 crowd on London’s Regent Street.