So you think you've seen the quickest-ever battery-powered race car in the world? What about Rhys Millen in his electrified 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe setting the Pike's Peak speed record? Or John "Plasma Boy" Wayland in his converted 1972 Datsun 1200, the White Zombie, as he turned heads at the Portland International Raceway? Or even the Tesla Model S, in the production category.

The list keeps growing with a new entrant: racer Mike Pethel, who has built what might be the quickest EV ever in an early 1970's BMW 3.0 CS out of his garage in Venice, CA and will soon be featured on a radio feature from Public Radio's BURN: An Energy Journal and American Public Media's Marketplace. Anchored by long-time public radio journalist and storyteller Alex Chadwick, the segments will look at how individuals, new science ideas, grassroots initiatives and potentially game-changing inventions redefine America's quest for greater energy independence.

Which brings us to Pethel. A color technologist for the film and TV industry by day, Pethel doubles as a racecar enthusiast and obsessive inventor at night. His BURN segment last year covers his attempts to build a high-performance electric car. He was able to pull it off – after installing two electric motors with large lithium ion phosphate batteries capable of generating 800 horsepower, his experimental 3.0 CS can do zero to 60 miles per hour in approximately three seconds – but he also drives the car quietly on city streets to his workplace every day. The inventor took Chadwick on a memorable test drive and they discussed the on-going nature of his quest. Once it airs on the radio, the segment should be available for streaming here.

This is cool and all, but is it the fastest EV racer ever built? EV racing fans want to know.





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PRESS RELEASE

Public Radio's Award-Winning "BURN: An Energy Journal" and APM's "Marketplace" Team Up to Present Monthly Segments on Critical Energy Issues

Veteran Radio Journalist Alex Chadwick Leads Off with Story about a Maverick Inventor and his Quest to Build The Fastest Battery-Powered Green Car on the Planet

Los Angeles, California - January 23, 2013 - Public Radio's BURN: An Energy Journal and American Public Media's Marketplace are partnering to present once-a-month feature stories exploring the complicated energy challenges that face communities all over the country and around the world. The Marketplace segments will follow in the footsteps of BURN's hour-long specials in 2012 that were broadcast nationally over the American Public Media network and won the prestigious AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Produced by Peabody Award-winning SoundVision Productions © and anchored by one of public radio's most trusted journalists and master storytellers, Alex Chadwick, BURN's Marketplace stories will begin airing the last week of January, 2013.

Like the hour-long BURN documentaries, which will continue to be produced in 2013 via a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Marketplace segments will offer a far-ranging examination of how individuals, new scientific ideas, grassroots initiatives and potentially game-changing inventions are informing the energy debate in the country, and redefining America's quest for greater energy independence.

"We're thrilled to be working more closely with our colleagues at Marketplace," says Bari Scott, executive director of SoundVision Productions, "and we're grateful to the Sloan Foundation for their support. What Alex and the entire BURN team are doing is unique and essential to America's future. They are exploring the science behind the most critical energy issues of the day and they're finding intimate, human-scale stories that make these complicated issues understandable to the public. That educational element is so important."

In the first BURN Marketplace segment due to be broadcast next week, Chadwick visits Mike Pethel in a garage in Venice, California. A color technologist for the film and TV industry by day, Pethel doubles as a mechanical savant, racecar enthusiast and obsessive inventor on his own time. Chadwick featured Pethel in a BURN segment last year because he was attempting to do something that no one had realistically done before - build a high-performance "green" car that could go very fast. His power source of choice? Two electric motors and five big lithium ion phosphate batteries capable of generating 800 horsepower in the blink of an eye. Pethel was installing all this into the hollowed-out chassis of an early 1970's BMS 3.0 CS – and he wasn't at all sure that it would work.

As Chadwick's Marketplace story reveals, Pethel has more than succeeded – his experimental car can do zero to 60 miles per hour in approximately three seconds – but he also drives it quietly over city streets to his workplace every day. The inventor takes the reporter on a memorable test drive (see video) and they discuss the on-going nature of his quest. Chadwick also explores the promising future of battery-powered electric cars and explains the importance of inventors like Pethel in the context of the national and global energy debate.


BURN: An Energy Journal is produced by SoundVision Productions in partnership with APM's Marketplace with a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The BURN radio specials are distributed by American Public Media. Share your ideas and opinions with BURN on Facebook.
For media inquiries, contact Scott Busby at scottb@thebusbygroup.com or 310.475.2914.

# # #

APM's Marketplace is heard weekdays on public radio. To find your local airtime, visit marketplace.org/local-air-times. Marketplace is also available on demand via marketplace.org, iTunes, Slacker Radio and Stitcher Radio.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 9 Comments
      SublimeKnight
      • 1 Day Ago
      This simultaneously illustrates what will be so great and so terrible about the EV era of car modifying. Great in that performance will be easy to come by (and cheap) in the EV world. If you can push batteries to discharge at 15C or 20C, even a pack the size of the LEAFs could push 500hp+ The terrible part, is that when performance comes so cheap and easy it becomes a commodity.
        Spec
        • 1 Day Ago
        @SublimeKnight
        I'm not understanding the "terrible" part.
          Cavaron
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Spec
          Maybe because very silent and very fast cars in the hands of young, not road experienced posers could be a dangerous thing...?
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Day Ago
        @SublimeKnight
        Yeah that'll be horrible when more people get a chance to own a car that is fast and efficient. Said nobody, ever.
      thegaren
      • 1 Day Ago
      I got a chance to work with Mike Pethel a few years ago on a commercial and he took me for a "quick" spin around the block. Totally insane how fast it was in a straight line.
      Spec
      • 1 Day Ago
      What exactly is the record he is going for?
      2 wheeled menace
      • 1 Day Ago
      Thanks for the report! There is more info on this car here, including a video of it converting rubber from a solid form to a gas, lol: http://burnanenergyjournal.com/to-build-the-fastest-green-car-on-earth/
      Andrew Pullin
      • 1 Day Ago
      I'll raise the same issue that is raised whenever a hobbyist starts quoting power numbers: the motors probably won't actually develop 800HP. I'm sure the battery would be able to source the equivalent 600kW, but that doesn't mean that the motors will actually draw or use that much power.
      • 1 Day Ago
      Check out this short video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=gtSXiG68AbA