Tesla Motor Inc.’s Roadster electric vehicle breaks the world record for a production EV for distance between battery recharges, clocking 311.3 miles (501 km) before stopping during Australia’s Global Green Challenge, a 1,951-mile (3,140 km) run from Darwin to Adelaide.

The previous record, set in the U.S. was 250 miles (430 km).

The Tesla Roadster broke the record while traveling at 34.1 mph (55 km/h) along the Stuart Highway between the iconic towns of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory and Marla in South Australia.

Contestants in the recent biennial event encountered an earthquake, dust storm and sweltering conditions over seven days of endurance driving through the Australian Outback.

The winning A$160,000 Tesla Roadster is the only one of its kind in Australia and is owned by Adelaide-based Simon Hackett, founder and managing director of Australian national broadband company Internodet Systems Pty. Ltd. He piloted the car on its record-breaking run with co-driver Emilis Prelgauskas.

The distance record will be fully accredited by event officials. Preparation for the race included a secure sealing of the electric-charge port door at departure and full on-road supervision of the vehicle during the drive.

Melbourne’s The Age newspaper says the Roadster was followed by a truck with a diesel generator mounted on the back to provide the car’s batteries a rapid 3-hour recharge when needed.

Accompanying the Tesla on the run was Deep Green Research Pty. Ltd.’s modified Honda Motor Co Ltd. electric vehicle that achieved an endurance run of 224 miles (360 km) that equated to 85 kW/h per km.

The efficiency of an electric vehicle generally is measured by the average amount of energy required to drive the car a given distance. A spokesman for the Queensland-based research team says this distance makes the Honda EV the most energy efficient in the event.

The team says the result also makes the Deep Green Research Honda “the most efficient road-registered vehicle in Australia and possibly in the world by vehicle weight.”

Meantime, event organizers say the Tokai University solar-car entry Tokai Challenger claimed victory in the World Solar Challenge run, also part of the Global Green Challenge.

The solar challenge was first run in 1987 and is conducted every two years.

Tokai University broke the string of victories set by the Dutch Nuon team in 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007. The team’s only problem was a flat tire 1,754 miles (2,824 km) from the Darwin start.

The victory by Tokai Challenger is the first by a Japanese team since 1996, when the event was won by Honda Dream II. Honda Motor Co. Ltd. also won the previous event in 1993.

Nuon Solar Team entry Nuna V finished second, ahead of the University of Michigan’s Infinium, which placed third after incurring a 10-minute penalty when it had to be pushed up a hill.

It is the fourth time the U of M solar car team has placed third in the event, duplicating its results in 1990, 2001 and 2005.

Ford Motor Co. of Australia Ltd. took the honors for the most economical car in the Eco Challenge contest. The light-car-class, diesel-powered Fiesta ECOnetic averaged 75.1 mpg (3.13 L/100 km).

The Fiesta was followed in the overall economy stakes by three Mini Cooper Ds in the next larger small-car class. The 1.6L turbocharged Minis’ best was 68.7 mpg (3.42 L/100 km).

GM Holden Ltd. says its Commodore recorded the best fuel economy of any Aussie-made 6-cyl. car. It averaged 36.3 mpg (6.5 L/100 km), the equivalent to driving 674 miles (1,100 km) on a single tank.

The auto maker says the Commodore’s result put it ahead of the Ford Falcon with 33.4 mpg (7 L/100 km).

“Over 3,000 km (1,864 miles) of driving has demonstrated the improvements we’ve made to the latest direct-injection model Commodore,” Holden Vehicle Performance Manager Scott Heywood says in a statement.

“We did the math before the event, but it’s one thing to do it on the back of an envelope and another thing to do it on the desert highway from Darwin to Adelaide.”

A 6.2 L V-8 Maloo pickup from Holden Special Vehicles won the competition for the vehicle making the biggest improvement over its fuel-rating.

The Maloo achieved a 48.8% reduction in fuel consumption when compared with its fuel rating, averaging 30.4 mpg (7.7 L/100 km). Its nearest competitor made a 39.8% improvement.

Volkswagen Group Australia Pty. Ltd. says its large Skoda Superb 2.0L TDI was the most fuel-efficient vehicle in the medium-to-large cars segment at 51.2 mpg (4.6 L/100 km).

Suzuki Australia Pty. Ltd. says its Alto smashed all records to achieve 117.6 mpg (2.0 L/100 km) fuel economy figure on the final day of challenge.

“The result is all the more remarkable considering the test was undertaken on the inner city roads of Adelaide in the midst of the morning peak-hour traffic,” Suzuki says in a statement.

“The Alto set a new benchmark for urban-cycle fuel economy against not only its (gasoline-) powered rivals but the more expensive diesel models.” For the full distance from Darwin to Adelaide, the manual Alto averaged 60.15 mpg (3.91 L/100 km).

The Global Green Challenge results:

Eco Challenge Awards

  • Production Class Small Car Diesel: Ford Fiesta ECOnetic.
  • Production Class Small Car Gasoline: Suzuki Alto GLX.
  • Production Class Ute/Light Truck: Holden Special Vehicles Maloo Ute
  • Production Class Large Car gasoline: Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo
  • Production Class Large Car Diesel: Skoda Superb
  • Production Class Medium/ Off Road: Hyundai Santa Fe SLX
  • Production Class 2-seat Electric: Tesla Motors Ltd.
  • Modified Production Small Electric: Deep Green Research
  • Modified Production Hybrid: Annesley College, Adelaide, Australia

World Solar Challenge Awards

  • Adventure Class: Osaka Sangyo University, Japan
  • Challenge Class Silicon: University New South Wales
  • Challenge Class and Overall Winner: Tokai University, Japan