Finally. About two years after we started – the Nemesis is ‘finished’.
I’ve been meaning to post something before now, but the last few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind. Here’s a quick heads up, some stuff you might know already from the news, some you probably won’t.
The car arrived in Stroud nearly three weeks ago now (Tuesday the 28th Oct) looking simply awesome. It was the first time I’d seen it in it’s finished form, complete with grey and black union jack paint job and all sorts of other bits and pieces – it really is transformed from the car that was here in the summer of 09 – for a few months.
The day after the car arrived I took the Sunday Times out for a spin. They loved it and published a piece the following Sunday. I haven’t put a link here, because you have to pay to look at it (I guess Murdoch needs the cash to fight the evil BBC).
The Friday of that same week I went for a spin with Robert Llewellyn. That was a bit scary truth be told – never knew he had such a heavy right foot… :). Actually, what made it (more) scary was that each time he hit the throttle hard, or came off it, the car twitched, we had a bit of torque steer going on (which was unusual). This turned out to be an early symptom of a problem that would show itself later. Robert made a short video of our spin, which actually was a hoot – you can see that here.
The following Monday (after the Sunday Times piece) I went for a spin with a guy from the Press Association and the torque steer ‘twitch’ under the big right foot of Bobby L, turned into a permanent pull to the right under more moderate acceleration – the problem was developing. I thought it probably something to do with the motor controllers and made a mental note for the engineers to rectify when they next have the car.
And then the next day (fatefully) I went for spin and shot some video with John Vidal from the Guardian. John wrote this piece which appeared in the Guardian the following Friday. And he posted this video on their website.
As you’ll see (or you may know already) the Nemesis broke down……..!
We were on our way to our local windmill to take the final shots of the day, and as we crossed a mini roundabout we just lost drive completely. Had to get out and push, I think he kept filming for a while, in true professional style…… 🙂
And bless him, he said he wouldn’t use the breakdown as part of the story, didn’t feel the need. I thought that was quite lovely. But the temptation was obviously too much, as you can see or read in the G – it became part of the story.
That wasn’t really a surprise, it was a bit disappointing, but it was understandable. What was a surprise was the stuff that was actually made up – the claim that the Nemesis is known as the ‘Beast of Stroud’, for example – it certainly isn’t, and the first I heard about it was in the Guardian. I think that’s stretching journalistic licence a bit too far.
Anyway, one of our engineers dropped everything to blat to Stroud and take a look (Thanks Bob). The problem was with a small 12 volt battery that drives the motor contactors (the electro mechanical bits that pass the big currents to the motors) – it had gone flat.
Turns out that the diode used the charge the 12v from the main 400v traction battery, had blown. The component was well within design specs, so we suspect a fault in the diode itself – we’ll see. The falling voltage in the 12v battery caused the motor contactors to behave erratically – that’s the working theory. So far it’s holding.
With the problem solved we were off the next day (Thursday) to London for a launch party for the car and for our Ecobonds (I’ll post about ecobonds later, promise).
The party was fab. Probably the best bit for me was that Damon Hill turned up. Here’s a picture.
The next day we were off to Brighton to get ready for the RAC Eco rally, which started the following day (Saturday). The rally ran from Brighton to London, the day before the historic event that runs the other way round. It was fun.
The car park of our hotel was like a spaghetti junction of cables and junction boxes, as the fleet of cars re charged over night – at least in theory anyway. There were obviously some electrical load issues – the Nemesis left that car park after 12 hours of charging, with less in the batteries than we started with……. nice…. 🙂
But no problem, we still had plenty. We all lined up along Brighton Sea Front and left, kind of race style, at 30 second intervals – somehow we managed to be car 63 of 64.
On approach to the start line an RAC guy came up to the car and said something like ‘can you spin the wheels or something all these Teslas are being really boring’. The wheels won’t actually spin (something we’re looking into, we think there’s some very conservative torque control going on) – but I told him I could ‘boot it’.
And boot it I did. Not too madly, since the start was arranged with a bottleneck of people just in front of it. Short phone video here for your amusement.
And with that we were off to London, my least favourite place in the country to drive to – not sure what I was thinking when I agreed to this.
Before long we found ourselves in the most amusing and frustrating convoy of eco cars. All competing to use the least energy on the drive, which is fine in theory. But in practice it meant these guys would do 30 mph on the flat (in a 60) and when they hit a hill they were doing 20 (not wanting to use the throttle). It was funny to start with but that wore off.
We even saw drivers wiping the inside of their windscreens, because they wouldn’t use their screen demist (we assumed). We had no such problems, the air inside the Nemesis was the same as the air outside (v cold)…. 🙂
We saw our chance on a long straight and blew off a convoy of eco cars – blimey the Nemesis can accelerate, I was well off the throttle before we reached the lead car…….
Although I can see why the RAC set this event up based on a challenge of efficiency (I think the petrol based cars had to use less than one gallon for example) – I actually think this is the anti message – Eco cars that are not fast or fun, (and if you meet one on the road it’ll be a pain in the arse) but they are economical – it’s the worst possible message, just re enforces the stereotype.
My suggestion for next year would be a balanced approach that requires some semblance of normal road speed and economy – much more of a challenge.
Anyway we got through some hideous traffic and made our way to Regent Street for the line up. And we were mobbed. The Nemesis kind of stole the show. That was fab.
So here we are three weeks later. I just charged the car last night and it was truly plug and play – no laptops needed – just pulled the old three pin plug out of the flap at the back, and that was it – chuffed about that….. 🙂
We’re still waiting for the fast charger though, it’s two months overdue now. But we’ve been busy with CAD and have ‘packaged’ the fast charger to fit in the boot – so that all we’ll need for a super fast charge, is a three phase supply. We’ll have no hardware compatibility issues.
After we get the next few weeks of publicity out of the way we’ll draw up plans for the speed record run and for the endurance run – Land’s End to John O Groats, which we’re going to aim to do in less than one day (less than 24hours). That should be a hoot. More on all of that later.