The record was held by a Tesla Model S 100D, with 1,078 kilometers made on a single charge. It was a symbolic victory, since the journey was not carried out as any driver would. Still, even Elon Musk himself was proud of the milestone reached. But the record was short-lived for Tesla. It was not another modern vehicle, but the ‘The Phoenix’, an old BMW from 97 converted into an electric car.
Eric Lundgren and Jehu Garcia were two fans of electric cars, but they transformed an old car into the most efficient electric car to date. To get it they used $ 13,800 and some recycled parts from other cars. The result is the ‘The Phoenix’, the electric car that managed to break Tesla’s record for distance traveled on a single charge.
‘The Phoenix’, a 90% recycled car
As the owner of IT Asset Partners, a recycling company, Lundgren had experience modifying vehicles. The goal at no time was to rival Tesla, but to demonstrate to what extent an old car can have a second life. “If we treat electric vehicles like we treat our phones, that if a single piece breaks we throw it away, we would have a lot of waste,” explains Lundgren as described by CNBC. “We just want to give a new life cycle to electronics.”
The 1997 BMW 528i was purchased from a junk yard, a scrap car they purchased for $ 900. But multiple components were added for conversion, from a pile of used Lithium Ion 18650 batteries, multiple computers, and an electric motor. Putting all the batteries together, the ‘The Phoenix’ had 130 kWh. A capacity that was expanded to 200 kWh to break the record.
90% of the parts of the resulting car had been recycled from other places. Precisely because it was an old car that had been recycled, those responsible decided to nickname it ‘The Phoenix’ (Phoenix in Spanish), in honor of the mythological creature of fire that is reborn from its ashes.
In total, it took 35 days to build it. Although as Lundgren explains in an interview with Inside EV: “I think anyone could have built a better car than ours.”
1,608 kilometers on a single charge
Since October 16, 2017, ‘The Phoenix’ holds the Guinness World Record for longest distance traveled by an electric vehicle on a single charge and without solar energy. In total, 1,608.54 kilometers.
The feat can be seen from the YouTube channel of one of the members. The distance traveled was at the Auto Club Motor in Fontana, California. The intended goal was to exceed 1,200 miles, however they remained below 1,000 miles. Still, enough to get this particular record.
In total, the ‘The Phoenix’ was circulating on the circuit for two days in a row at an approximate speed of 50 kilometers per hour, somewhat above optimum and one of the reasons why they could have reached a higher figure.
“‘The Phoenix’ is a demonstration of the possibilities of hybrid recycling. Of reintegrating working electronic components into new applications to serve new lifecycles,” explains Lundgren. A record that can easily be broken in the future, but it is a curious project to show the possibilities of taking advantage of old vehicles. For the moment, they have held the record for more than three years.