The car in question is a Dodge Challenger. Remotely controlled, it runs on four AA batteries. It’s made under licence by Maisto.
This isn’t the first time I’ve had an electric car. In 2005 I took ownership of a second-hand remote control car (make unknown) which I used for ten minutes until the vehicle slammed into something hard and never worked again.
This time around I can report more success. The Maisto Challenger, made in China, is robust and wieldy. One quickly learns the elements of the chassis’ behaviour and how to coax the best from its limited grip. It’s a rear wheel drive car and this means that dramatic oversteer can be exploited as well as direct use of the steering.
In other words, the vehicle is very throttle-sensitive. For example, if one is approaching a sharp left, the best approach for the tightest line is to pull the vehicle into reverse. The tail will swing out to a degree dependent on the speed into the bend and the exact amount of reverse the driver has dialled up. Then apply full power to move forward again. The price is a loss of speed during the turn, perhaps but on the other hand a retarding impact with a wainscot or chair leg can be avoided.
For an inexpensive vehicle, the Challenger performs commendably. To criticise the on/off nature of the steering is to expect too much of a simply engineered vehicle intended mostly for aimless circuits of the kitchen floor. Presumably a variable steering system which allowed for different angles of wheel-turning would improve handling but also lift the car into a new price class. The controls are simple too: there is a forward-backward lever (on the left of the device) for going forward and
backwards and a left-right lever (on the right) for going left and right. One of the interesting characteristics of this set-up is that the mapping relationship between left and right on the remote control device and the car can be confusing: a left turn relative to the car’s direction of travel might mean a right-pull on the lever relative to the driver. That’s why to begin with I have been driving the vehicle only anti-clockwise around the test circuit in DTW’s kitchen. I can add more or less left steering to keep the car on line and can avoid inversions of the left-right mapping.
A common criticism of electric vehicles is range anxiety. The Maisto Dodge Challenger has no such problems. Battery performance more than exceeds the driver’s willingness to put time in using the car. An overnight charge allows up to two hours of use but, practically speaking, one will never exploit the car to the extent that one runs up against the batteries’ limits. I recommend recharging the car at night and then one is ready the following day for more driving.
Here’s a small film showing a slightly more advanced version of the car. This has functioning headlamps whereas DTW’s car’s lamps do not illuminate.