When the first self-powered vehicles appeared on roads in the late 19th century, they were as likely to use electricity for power as they were gas, steam or any other fuel. The lack of progress in batteries, and the steady march of fossil-fuel burning engines, knocked them off of the streets for about 100 years. But if you need more proof that the era of electrics may rise again, look to how the fastest woman on a motorcycle shattered records at Bonneville with a battery-powered bike.
Colorado resident Eva Håkansson and her husband Bill Dubé, both engineers, have been building their KillaJoule streamlined sidecar machine for five years in their Colorado backyard, powered by a brace of A123 Systems' lithium-ion batteries and electric motors generating some 400 hp and 800 ft.-lbs. of torque. Last month, at the Bonneville Speed Week, Håkansson ran a two-way average of 240.726 mph over the six-mile course.
Speed records are meant to be broken on the salt flats, but Håkansson's mark stands out. That speed bested the previous record for a sidecar motorcycle by 25 mph — a huge jump by land-speed standards. The record made Håkansson the fastest woman on a motorcycle of any kind. And electric-car records are usually measured against other electric vehicles, but the KillaJoule's record was, by the team's reckoning, the first time an electric vehicle had beaten an internal-combustion speed record since 1899.
Shortly after setting the record, Håkansson and team went back to the salt flats in a more relaxed run and managed to run the KillaJoule up to 270 mph — a speed she says on the team's blog probably represents the top end of what the current design can accomplish. But the KillaJoule demonstrates It won't be another century before an electric vehicle claims another overall land-speed title.