The Panasonic Oxyride Speed Challenge

Scott Benjamin

The Panasonic Oxyride Racer (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)

I was replacing the batteries in a flashlight last night when I was suddenly reminded of an article I edited not long ago about powering a car with AA batteries. It's an interesting idea, isn't it? I mean, we use AA batteries to power plenty of other things in our lives -- why not a car? Yeah, I know it sounds a little crazy, but consider this: The AA-powered car in the article -- the Panasonic Oxyride Racer -- reached an average speed of 65.5 miles per hour, and a top speed of 75.8 miles per hour!

That speed was enough to give the Oxyride Racer a new Guinness World Record as the fastest car powered by dry cell batteries. I'm sure that by now you've probably discovered that the Oxyride Racer is no ordinary car, and it definitely took more than a handful of batteries to make the record-breaking run -- 192 AA Panasonic Oxyride batteries, as a matter of fact. However, I still think that this was an amazing feat of engineering thanks to the combined efforts of the engineers at Panasonic and the students at Osaka Sangyo University in Osaka, Japan.

Just to put this into perspective, while a typical hybrid car battery pack can generate about 300 volts, a standard AA battery can only muster about 1.5 volts of electricity. Granted, Panasonic Oxyride AA batteries are slightly more powerful at 1.7 volts, and yes, that's impressive, but that's not really a whole lot better when it happens to be the only source of power for a vehicle that's carrying a driver around a race track.

You can read through the article (if you haven't already), and find out all the interesting details about the car, including the Oxyride Racer's specs and why Panasonic wanted to build this car in the first place. Here's a hint: It involves battery-powered airplanes. I love to read about engineering challenges like this. I really do.

More related stuff: Can I power my car with AA batteries? How Batteries Work 5 Ways Hybrid Battery Packs are Being Improved How much voltage does a hybrid car produce? How Airplanes Work