Nürburgring Record Brings Electric Race Cars Closer to Competition0

Steven Ashley | Mon Sep 12 2011 |

Auto racing’s ongoing efforts to develop fully competitive electric racecars took a major step last week when an all-electric car broke the eight-minute mark for a single lap of the famed Nürburgring Nordschleife test track, a highly demanding race course in Germany.

The prototype EV P001 car, built by Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG), set a time of 7 minutes, 47.8 seconds for the legendary 12.9-mile (20.8-kilometer) circuit, cutting more than a minute off the previous all-electric record posted last spring by the Peugeot EX1 (9:01.3 minutes).

The sub-eight-minute lap places TMG’s electric racer among the ranks of elite, combustion-engine sports cars. The EV P001 still, however, lags the overall leader—the conventionally powered Radical SR8LM, which circled Nürburgring in 6:48.0 minutes. The TMG car, which averaged about 100 mph during its record-setting run, has a top speed of 162 mph (260 kmph).

Electric motorsports

“We see a real future in electric racing and want to show that electric race cars can be just as exciting as traditional racers,” said Alastair Moffitt, project leader at TMG.

TMG is a Cologne-based engineering services company that provided Formula 1 and other cars for the Toyota race team before the Japanese automaker pulled out of many series several years ago.

“TMG pursued this project for two reasons,” he noted. “We wanted to set a new EV lap record to publicize electric racing. Second, we wanted to demonstrate our expertise by running our latest technology on a truly tough track.”

A collaborative effort

The new e-racer, Moffitt said, is based on a chassis from Radical, a sports-car chassis maker in Britain. U.K.-based EVO Electric supplied the electric motors, while the car’s lithium-ceramic batteries were provided by Li-Tec Battery, a German joint venture between Evonik and Daimler. Specialists at Rational Motion in Germany integrated the power train, battery, and control software.

“Our lap record shows that TMG’s electric power train has both performance and durability, which we believe makes it ideal for an all-electric championship involving races that run about 20 minutes,” he said.

Although the recent demonstration shows that electric racers can be fast, it also points out the current technology’s limited range at high speeds, which in this case is not much beyond 21 kilometers.

Moffitt stated that TMG will continue improving its electric power train capabilities for motorsport applications and will start commercial sales in 2012.

TMG EV P001 Specifications

Top speed                   260 kmph

Performance              0-50 kmph in 1.8 seconds, 0-100 kmph in 3.9 seconds

Max. torque               800 Nm

Max. power                280 kW (375 hp)

Max. rpm                    5,000

Battery Type              Lithium-ceramic battery

Voltage                       520 V

Capacity                     41.5 kWh

Weight                        350 kg