Science Interviews


Mon, 2nd Nov 2015

Electric vs Petrol: Who will win?

Waseem Mirza, BBC reporter

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There's only one way to see what would win in a race and that's by staging a timeEletric vs Petrol trial. Thanks to BBC reporter Waseem Mirza, Graihagh Jackson and Chris Smith managed to do exactly that…

Waseem - This is a Tesla model SP85 and it is completely electric. I have the opportunity to really give this a go because I won it in a competition. So, here we are, pitting this car against the best of the old generation of technology, the gasoline fuelled vehicle known as the Mercedes AMG CLK 55. Who will be the winner? I think I know who will be but let’s see what Chris thinks.

Graihagh - Chris?

Chris - We’re going to win. We should be clear shouldn’t we? Waseem is going to drive the electric car and we’re going to take the petrol. I expect actually that Waseem will be faster away from the blocks but I reckon we can beat him in terms of our ultimate speed and range.

Graihagh - I mean, I think you guys should place a bet. Fiver? who’s in?

Chris - I'm in.

Waseem - Fiver.

Chris - I’ll see your fiver and I’ll rate your fiver and a go of your electric car.

Waseem - Absolutely.

Graihagh - How was it? How do you think you did?

Chris - That was exhilarating with a capital E. I've never driven that fast ever.

Graihagh - Do you think it was enough to beat the Tesla though?

Chris - I'm quietly confident, but that’s pretty good technology over there so it could go either way.

Graihagh - We’re yet to get the results Waseem but how do you think you faired?

Waseem - I think that the Tesla has quite clearly won.

Graihagh - Chris, what do you reckon?

Chris - I'm pretty confident that we did okay. Whether or not we actually beat him, I don’t know.

Graihagh - Well, we’ll wait and see what the data shows and then we’ll work out who owes who what then.

Waseem - Okay, that’s fine with me.

Chris - Hope you're feeling rich Waseem!

Graihagh - Unfortunately, we’re not top gear and our data were inconclusive. So it seems as though Waseem and Chris, you’ve got out slightly on this one. Now Waseem, if we ignore our data as only we can, what do the specs say? Who would’ve won, the Tesla or the Merc?

Waseem - Well it’s quite really. According to the specs, the Tesla should be out in the lead because on paper, it has a 0-60 time of 4.2 seconds. It is quite a fair test because the Mercedes is also rear wheel driven. Yet, it’s 0 to 60 time on paper, it’s 5.4 seconds. So, there is quite a big gap there.

Graihagh - Yeah, a second. Peter, you're looking a little sceptical over there.

Peter - Well, I was wondering what the noise was when they were taking off. I assume it’s because you're on the runway somewhere. Now, I am sceptical. As we discussed earlier, but I have driven a Tesla and didn’t overall think it was something I would want to buy. That doesn’t mean necessarily, I wouldn’t buy one of course.

Graihagh - Waseem…

Waseem - So, I understand that was an older generation of the Tesla and it’s amazing to look how far things have moved on in only a relatively short period of time. You’ve got bigger battery packs now being put in these vehicles and that presumably gives access to greater power and longer ranges. Certainly, in the week that I had this car, I experienced great amount of enjoyment. The torque was unbelievable and that’s coming from somebody who is an electric car driver already. It struck me, going back to my own car, that I was convinced for a period of time that something is wrong with my car. Of course, it wasn’t. it was just an amazing experience with the Tesla.

Graihagh - Now Waseem, it wasn’t all bells and whistles because you did run into a bit of a difficulty when getting to the race itself.

Waseem - Yes, umm... Knowing that I had used the car at highway speeds, I wanted to be doubly sure that we had enough range. As it happened, I was delayed by 30 minutes getting on to the airfield.

Graihagh - You left us all in the rain Waseem.

Waseem - Absolutely. It was a quite cold morning as well.

Graihagh - It was really cold.

Waseem - And of course, that doesn’t help batteries at the moment either, unless…

Chris - Waseem, is this a very long winded way of saying you were late because you ran out of juice?

Waseem - Well, partly it’s true but that’s not the whole story. I mean, it would’ve been a poor test had we ran out on the airfield after doing our time trials. That would’ve been a disaster because we would’ve needed a flatbed recovery from that deserted airfield in the middle of nowhere which would’ve been a real big challenge so I wanted to prevent that. Thankfully, we got away with it I think.

Graihagh - Thank you very much. BBC reporter Waseem Mazir. If you want to see our track test, we posted the video on our Facebook page,


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