Car of the Future Open Production

My Car of the Future, Today

C. Michael Lewis
Portland, Maine
"Eracer" Electrathon Racecar

Lewis vehicle

My car of the future is an electric racecar. I built it in my basement to inspire kids, promote an ethic of efficiency, and see how far I could go with one kilowatt/hour (1.3 hp) of lead-acid battery. So far it's 53 miles in one hour, an Electrathon National Record.

Electrathon America [] is an organization aiming to improve understanding of electric vehicles through the development of a unique sport. Competitors in Electrathon races drive as far as possible in one hour on a closed-loop course using limited electrical energy. Electrathon vehicles are single-person, lightweight, aerodynamic, high-efficiency electric vehicles with three or four pneumatic tires.

My Electrathon racecar is 10 feet long, 32 inches wide, and 19 inches high. The monocoque shell is constructed of a carbon/kevlar/balsa composite. The car has three 17-inch wheels. The front two are discs of the same composite, and all three wheels have eight-inch mechanical disc brakes. Power is from two Optima AGM sealed lead-acid batteries (together weighing 67 pounds, the Electrathon limit), which provide a little more than one horsepower at 24 volts to a Lynch disc armature motor through an Alltrax controller. The car has three video cameras—two for rear view, one in the nose for documentation—and a four-inch video monitor. It also sports a vertical airfoil for additional propulsion if wind conditions permit.

I've also built a custom fiberglass trailer to tow two racers behind my Honda Insight. The trailer will have photovoltaic panels to charge the race batteries.

See other Cars of the Future, Today.

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Lewis conforms to the "Eracer's" aerodynamic profile.

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Is it an electric car or a piece of art? Perhaps both.

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Lewis's fuel-efficient Honda Insight (bottom) can tow two Electrathon racers in his custom-built fiberglass trailer (top).

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