Getting Road Approval for the SRZero

Toby and Alec look on as the SRZero is scrutinised

Today was a big day for the project so far: the Radical SRZero, the car we have worked so hard on in the past 7 months, was due to be assessed for road worthiness. A test called IVA (Individual Vehicle Approval) had to be passed. All cars that are not mass produced series type approved models have to go through this process to make sure they do not pose danger on the streets of the UK – and believe me the government takes road safety seriously! We went through the whole of the 261 page manual many times but could always find little things that needed to be changed or adjusted to conform to the regulations. Even Radical Sportscars who have done the IVA test with plenty of their cars said the test is not as trivial as one might think. Many have to go back a second or even third time to pass the test and this is something our already tight deadline in building the car in 7 months could not afford…

So up we got at 4am to travel to the Norwich test centre for an 8am start, having hardly slept thinking about all the little details on the car that could potentially cause us to fail. This was a first for all of the engineers on the team – we had built working EVs before but getting one road legal was new territory…

We unload her from the trailer and since we got there a tad early we thought we might as well give her a spin around the car park until we noticed that the gear kept flipping back into neutral randomly….uhoh, Murphy’s law was upon us we thought….first thing you do obviously, is to blame the software engineer – they can never justify that changes they have made to the code hasn’t caused the problem ;) So, we got Alec to change back to the old car software – a version we knew had worked…they do say never change something that works…but the old software version didn’t help and the worries continued until someone clambered head first into the cockpit and surfaced again with a loose connector ;) So that was that and we proceeded into the test centre already thinking we had used up quite a bit of our ration of bad luck…

There were 4 hours allocated for the test, and the first hour went pretty quickly. The examiner went around and ticked things off and wrote things down. Pretty standard really, until we got to adjusting the headlamps…now on a Radical you can’t just adjust it comfortably from the cockpit you have to get in behind the lights and wrestle them into position and make sure they stay there! Anyway now we’re sure that we won’t be blinding oncoming cars or maybe we should to give us that extra bit of visibility on the road…hmm….

There were a few other hiccups on the way all sorted out in good time…We had to recalibrate the speedo a few times because apparently our indicated speed was out by a fair bit until we realised that the independent rollers we were testing on weren’t turning at the same speed because of our split rear axle configuration…Then on it went to the brake tests – foot and hand brake. Now, you would think that such a high performance race car chassis would pass that with flying colours…well not exactly: the foot brake test went relatively smoothly – we passed first time achieving the absolute minimum of deceleration required. But the hand brake test took us about 10 attempts to pass! The examiner would run his test, we would fail, go back into the workshop tinker with it slightly and then try again….Somehow we just couldn’t get the calipers to tighten and give the right braking force…In the end we tried everything conceivably possible on the handbrake line and we managed to sort it out after about an hour…those were nervous times since the 4h deadline was fast approaching. At one point we thought the examiner enjoyed driving it around the yard so much he was just playing with us but at last the final box was ticked and we had passed all the required tests – an immense sense of relief all round!

It was an absolutely ecstatic feeling – the car we had built to become the longest range EV in the world was finally passed fit for the road and that in 7 months!! A monster effort on behalf of the engineering team and one we can really be proud of.

Personally, I never thought that the IVA test would mean so much to the project but today I have realised that it was not only not a walk in the park but also means a huge amount to getting the SR-Zero out onto the streets and helping us achieve our goal in changing public perceptions on EVs.

Today has really been a rite of passage for the project and a day I will never forget!

No photos today – our minds were elsewhere but rest assured the day was captured on video camera and a new webisode will appear soon at:

2 Responses to “Getting Road Approval for the SRZero”

  • Nick F says:

    Great. Glad you passed.

    Does that mean that the several countries you will go through will consider the car road safe, or do you need to go through another round of bureaucratic hurdles? Presumably standards aren’t as tight in South America, but what about the US and Canada?

    The other thing I was thinking about was charging. From a PR point of view I would guess it would be best to charge with power from renewable energy sources. I don’t know how possible this is along your route though. What are your plans for charging?

  • Toby says:

    Yes, the car is now ready to pass through all the countries on our route. Since we are not importing it indefinitely the regulations are a lot less stringent. It basically comes down to having a Carnet de Passage.

    Our strategy for charging is to charge off existing infrastructure to show that the infrastructure for electric vehicles is already partially present. Our car can be charged from pretty much any plug in any of the countries, taking into account the different voltages and frequencies. We must just remember not to forget the plug adaptors!

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