British engineers aim at electric land speed record

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It's not the fastest milk cart in the West - but it does have a similar propulsion system designed to take it past 249mph.

Two British engineers unveiled their plans yesterday for a car that would break the land speed record for an electrically powered vehicle, and called for sponsors to make their dream a reality.

Called E=motion, the car is 32ft (9.5m) long and has cost Mark Newby and Colin Fallows the equivalent of "a couple of Ferraris". They intend to take the car to the salt flats of Tunisia in September, aiming to beat the record set in July 2000 by their previous car, called Vampire. But they still need £25,000 to take it to north Africa.

In a call for funding, Mr Fallows, 53, a former RAF jet propulsion technician from Hartwell, Northampton, said that E=Motion should not be compared to previous unpopular electric cars such as the C5 launched by Sir Clive Sinclair in 1985. "We're not promoting electric cars, we want to go fast," he said at the launch of E=motion at Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground, near Lutterworth, Leicestershire.

E=motion has been almost five years in development and proved its credentials last month, unofficially beating the British electric land speed record by travelling at 146mph on its first test run. The record stands at 139mph in a distance of two miles. The E=motion team claim to have achieved their speed in less than 1,000 yards (914 metres) - though to be ratified a speed has to be achieved over several miles in different directions. The land speed record, set in 1997 by the jet-powered ThrustSSC, which weighed 10 tons, is 763mph.

Mr Newby, 45, a qualified pilot and drag racer, from Chinnor, near Oxford, will drive the one-ton car in Tunisia. He will sit in the 24in-high and 30in-wide aluminium and carbon fibre frame, aiming for 0-300mph in 102 seconds. One battery pack is used on each run and needs 14 hours to recharge, so the margin for excursions is low.

But Mr Newby is confident of success. He said: "It's got the horsepower, the stability, the aerodynamics and capability."