On Sept. 30, 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dedicated the Hoover Dam -- a marvel of design, civil engineering and tenacious construction -- to the people of the United States while they struggled through the depths of the Great Depression. Originally named Boulder Dam (nearby Boulder City still honors its legacy), it was turned over to the federal government the following year to harness the Colorado River and generate electricity.
Since then, Hoover Dam has continued to provide large amounts of clean energy for the people of the Southwest. Its massive hydroelectric turbines have the capacity to generate more than 2 billion watts of electric power per day from plunging river waters.
Here in Las Vegas, some 75 years later, two electric-car events paid homage to Hoover Dam. Two EV-driving teams are attempting to change long-distance range perceptions about battery-powered electric cars and renewable electrical energy resources. By coincidence, both teams visited Las Vegas and the Hoover Dam during their record-setting journeys.
Racing Green Endurance
The Racing Green Endurance team attempted to drive an all-electric racing car on a 15,000-mile trek down the Pan-American Highway, from Prudhoe Bay in Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina.
The RGE team hails from the UK's Imperial College in London and consists of student engineers and graduates from the Energy Futures Laboratory. They have built a high-performance, all-electric car on top of a lightweight Radical SR8 two-seat racing chassis that they have renamed the SRZero.
This all-electric open-cockpit car can achieve a maximum range of 300 miles, powered by a lithium-ion battery pack with a rechargeable energy capacity of 53 kilowatt-hours. The lithium-ion battery pack can be recharged in six hours from any 240-volt AC socket that can provide 15 amps of continuous current. Most household garages have a readily available supply of this electric power from an electrical outlet normally used for a clothes dryer.
The SRZero is fast. Its electric drive train consists of two rear-wheel-drive electric motors that can accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour in 7 seconds, reaching a top speed of 124 mph.
The eight-person Racing Green Endurance team consists of six engineering students and two cameramen who follow the SRZero in chase vehicles. Video clips of the team's adventures are posted weekly on its website (www.racinggreenendurance.com).
On day 25 of its electric adventure, the RGE team filmed a beautiful tribute to Hoover Dam, showcasing its capability as a renewable energy source that can provide two gigawatts of clean electrical power. The video includes spectacular aerial photography of Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and the Colorado River.
Since starting on its way June 29th, the RGE team has continued down the Pan-American Highway into Mexico and South America. It will pass through 12 countries before reaching Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world.
TAG Heuer and Tesla
Tag Heuer, the watch manufacturing company based in Switzerland, sponsored a Tesla Motors Roadster tour this summer to introduce its products and the all-electric sports car to new regions of the world.
The all-electric Tesla Motors Roadster version 2.0 uses a lithium-ion battery pack to provide a range of 240 miles between charges. Its electric motor can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds with its single speed transmission, leaving the driver with a feeling of being launched forward from a slingshot while eclipsing most high-end internal combustion engine sports cars in its class. Top speed is 125 miles per hour.
Luke McClure, a Tesla Roadster service technician from the UK, began driving the Tag Heuer Roadster from its starting point in Switzerland during March of this year. The tour has circled the globe through Eastern Europe, Russia, India, China and Japan.
The Tesla Roadster then arrived in Los Angeles and continued its route through the U.S., stopping in Las Vegas to exhibit during early August at CityCenter in the Crystals mall. Las Vegas city lights and Hoover Dam were showcased on videos that are available through Tag Heuer's website.
After leaving Las Vegas, the Tesla Roadster made its way south through New Orleans to Florida, then up the East Coast to New York City. After crossing the Atlantic Ocean to the United Kingdom, the Tag Heuer Tesla Roadster will finish its worldwide Odyssey of Pioneers tour in Paris.
A host of worldwide celebrities, including Leonardo DiCaprio, tennis star Maria Sharapova, singer Olivia Newton-John, actor Jeffrey Donova and others have stepped forward as goodwill ambassadors for the tour.
Stan Hanel has worked in the electronics industry for more than 30 years and is a long-time member of the Electric Auto Association and the Las Vegas Electric Vehicle Association. Hanel writes and edits for EAA's "Current Events" and LVEVA's "Watts Happening" newsletters. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.