A new world record has been set for the longest range traveled in an electric vehicle at highway speeds on a single charge — and the winning car might surprise you. On April 1, 2017, the tech company IT Asset Partners (ITAP ) conducted a highway range test of four electric vehicles, including three commercial cars — the Tesla Model S P90D, the Chevrolet Bolt, and the Nissan LEAF. The fourth vehicle in the test is known as “The Phoenix.” This BMW was slated for the scrapheap until ITAP reclaimed it and upgraded the car with 88 percent recycled materials, including the controller and the battery. Altogether, the vehicle and its improvements cost ITAP less than $13,000.
For the range test, each vehicle was required to drive as far as possible along a 362-mile round-trip route in California, from Chatsworth to San Luis Obispo. The Nissan LEAF ran out of juice first, after 81 miles. The Tesla Model S P90D faltered after 238.2 miles. The farthest-reaching of the commercially available cars was the Chevrolet Bolt, which traveled 271.5 miles before dying. The biggest surprise was The Phoenix, which traveled an astonishing 340.3 miles before stopping because of a blown fuse. The vehicle still retained 32 percent battery power, so that ITAP estimates it could’ve traveled more than 400 miles on a single charge.
The success of The Phoenix is a powerful testament to the potential for sustainability in future car designs. If a car destined for the junkyard can be upgraded with recycled materials to outperform the newest technology, there’s no telling what other “trash” could do when put to appropriate use.