The three-kilometre runway at Avalon Airport, located southwest of Melbourne, Australia, was the setting for a unique test of technical innovation, driving/piloting skill and mechanical power. It was a duel that pitted two examples of engineering achievement against one another – a Tesla Model S P90D electric car and a Qantas Boeing 737-800 jet airliner.
With its two CFM International jet engines, the 737 can generate more than 50,000 pounds of thrust and fly through the sky at a cruising speed of 850km/h. Flat out in the air, it can approach the speed of sound. The four-door, five-seater Model S can go from zero to 100km/h in three seconds flat. The car can’t fly, but it’s the quickest electric car so far.
The Tesla took off from the start at a cracking pace with its two electric motors, while the two engines of the 737 roared to life. It was plane versus car, pilot against driver.
The Tesla was hard to catch off the start, but the 737 narrowed the gap as it barrelled down the runway. Both travelled neck and neck as the 737 reached its take-off speed of 260km/h and the Tesla reached its maximum velocity at around 250km/h.
The Tesla was in the shadow of the aircraft as it pulled up at the end of the runway. So the car was the clear early winner on the ground, but it was overtaken when the aircraft did what it was designed to do: fly.
The point of this race between electric car and jet airliner was to highlight the collaboration between Australia’s national airline Qantas and California’s premium electric car company Tesla. The tie-up includes Tesla events targeted at Qantas frequent flyers, Qantas Club membership for Tesla Model S owners, and Tesla High Power Wall Connectors at Qantas valet facilities in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide for Model S owners to charge their Teslads whilst they travel.
All carbon emissions from this race were offset under Qantas’ Future Planet Program.