The Time Has Nearly Come For Electric Vehicles to Dominate the Racing Scene

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 19

ZEOD Electric Racer From Nissan

ZEOD Electric Racer From Nissan

As all of us here at InsideEVs are well aware of, electric vehicles can be amazingly quick.

Apparently, there are 3,000 horses tucked in this EV.

Apparently, there are 3,000 horses tucked in this EV.

We know that it’s a plug-in hybrid (Porsche 918 Spyder) that holds the Nurbugring lap record and we’ve seen countless video of a Tesla Model S smoking all sorts of ICE competition, as well as it setting the 1/4-mile production electric record.

But the world at large seems unaware of just how speedy electric can be.

That will change soon, especially with the highly publicized electric racing series, Formula E, set to hit TVs around the world in 2014.

Is there more in store for electric vehicles in terms of outright performance and speed?  Or is equaling the ICE competition the most that we can hope for?

Speaking at the 246th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, electric vehicle pioneer John E. Waters stated that electrics inherent advantages of ICE and that it’s likely the time will soon come when ICE is trying to catch electrics on the track:

“Experimental electric cars already have achieved sustained speeds of more than 180 miles per hour, and established world speed records above 300 mph.  Electric cars have inherent advantages in efficiency and torque over gasoline-powered vehicles. Energy storage-to-torque on an EV platform is above 90 percent efficient, compared to less than 35 percent for internal combustion engines. I have no doubt that battery-powered race cars will be attracting race fans in the immediate future.”

Those inherent advantages most likely will someday mean that electrics will dominate the racing scene.  But is the world at large ready for EV racing domination?

Source: Phys Org

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19 responses to "The Time Has Nearly Come For Electric Vehicles to Dominate the Racing Scene"

  1. kdawg says:

    I see possibly hybrids first. You get the benefits of both systems, ICE & EV.
    But this is also more complex and possibly heavier. The engineers have their work cut out for them.

  2. Nelson says:

    I was racing electric cars back in the 70’s on my Tyco Race Track. 🙂

    NPNS!
    Volt#671

  3. Spec9 says:

    Really? Other than drag racing, I just don’t see it. I guess you could do it with battery swapping.

    1. io says:

      Did you miss this?
      http://insideevs.com/video-elmofo-electric-radical-sr8-hits-the-track/ (just ignore the text)

      Pretty damn convincing, I’d say.

      It’s supposed to go between 50 and 200 km “depending on driving style”, so while none will run Le Mans in it yet (that 918 Spyder or maybe Nissan’s zeod look more adequate for this), it’s quite a bit more than a drag strip… and that’s with today’s tech.

  4. Brad B says:

    Electric motorcycles are already starting to win short races against their ICE counterparts. And short races are where electric car racers will win races first. We are actually just about there at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. This year Monster Tajimo set what would have been the all time world record fastest time to the top for any type vehicle in his EV runner. There are a couple of reasons why he finished so fast. The race was run on pavement all the way to the top for the first time because they paved the remaining dirt section near the top and second his car was faster this year than last. Even so, he most likely would have finished 2nd this year if the electric class had not the misfortune of having to run a rainy wet course, that slowed them all down, the top ICE cars ran a dry course. Even with the wet course he broke last years ICE world record to the top with the E runner. And if rain had not slowed him and Loeb had not decided to partly retire from Ralley and bring his Peugeot to Pikes Peak this year for the first time and utterly obliterate the field, I think that there would have been a high probability that the E runner would have won and set a new world record. Loeb is a machine and no matter what anyone fields on Pikes Peak, I doubt that record will fall for some years.

  5. jzj says:

    Funny, but I see it as exactly the other was around. Electrics should dominate all forms of transportation except for long-haul trucking, airplane take-offs, and transit shipping (biofuel can cover those limited needs), and when it comes to racing, biofuel would enable the energy density, lightness, and loudness needed for thrilling motorsports. I’d love a world where the ONLY place to see ICEs would be at the track.

    1. David Stone says:

      I would love a world in which the ONLY place to see ICEs would be in a museum.

      Long-haul trucking, airplane take-offs, and transit shipping should be electric too, with hydrogen being used for generation.

      Energy density and lightness are not needed for thrilling motorsports. Too much energy density would reduce thrilling pit-stop strategy, where batteries could be exchanged. Lightness it a factor for the drivers to deal with; heavy evs could lead to more over-taking.

      Loudness seems to be needed for thrilling motorsports, and high-power electric motors are NOT quiet.

  6. jumpjack says:

    “Highly publicized Formula E”?
    Where do you live?
    Here in Italy I read of it on a newspaper one year ago.
    And that’s all.
    Norhing more.
    On internet, this is 3rd time in 1 year I read it… and I’m subscribed to dozens of electric forums, blogs, feeds!

    Anyway, Li-S batteries are behind the corner, and R&D will get a boost once Formula E will become public. And looking at different solution used by manufacturers to swap batteries as quicky as possible at pitstops will be cool! 🙂

  7. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

    Advantages of ICEs over electric motors:
    (1) Ability to use energy dense fuel.
    (2) Easier to have geared transmissions.

    *Chirp, chirp*

    Hybridization of racing cars and Formula E are just more steps in the overall process of increasing efficiency and electrification. Without a huge leap in battery tech electric can’t beat ICE over a distance, but HEV can beat ICEV. Just as electric motorcycle racing has improved quickly, I expect similar improvements with Formula E and it’ll be exciting to see the evolution.

    And while high-power electric motors aren’t quiet, they also aren’t anywhere near as loud, as evidenced by electric motorcycle racers not needing earplugs and my wife’s reaction to hearing me use the electric lawnmower. 😉 Loud=power is just a cultural assumption due to familiarity with ICEs. Familiar will breed contempt for the noise.

    1. David Stone says:

      Loud = inefficiency

      Power moving air molecules is, unless it is a loudspeaker, lost and therefore wasted power.

    2. Brian says:

      Easier to have geared transmissions? Why? There’s no reason an EV can’t have a geared transmission. The beauty is that they don’t need one, due to their huge power bands. ICEs have very narrow power bands, so multiple speeds are necessary to keep the engine in its sweet spot.

      1. Dave Erb says:

        Agree and disagree. EVs can easily have geared transmissions. And all of the fast Formula Lightnings did, because they needed them to be competitive.

        Torque is not power. If the race track has any slow corners (less than about half of the top speed achievable on that same track), you’ll get your butt convincingly kicked if you try to run a single gear setup. Even on a fast oval, you’ll lose on the restarts. Maybe not with motorcycles, but definitely with cars.

        Mark Donohue said it best: If you can’t break the tires loose with the accelerator at the end of the longest straight, you need more power. If you can, you need more grip.

  8. Dan Frederiksen says:

    Sure all racing could be electric and should but I figure racing is foolish nonsense anyway. If it’s not a vehicle you can use then what is it…
    Performance is good but if you can’t drive it on the road then what good is it.

    1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

      It’s a developmental test bed for new technology. It’s part of the reason why F1 keeps changing rules. They have to keep the interest of automotive countries.

      Expect Formula E to help push batteries, motors, inverters and electric transmissions.

      1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

        s/countries/companies/

    2. Dave Erb says:

      First and foremost, it’s a marketing tool. Auto enthusiasts are a tiny fraction of drivers, but they’re the people whose opinions matter when their friends, family, and co-workers buy cars. Only a tiny fraction of enthusiasts have ever driven on a race track, but things that don’t matter anywhere else dominate the discussion in the enthusiast press.

      Racing is the flea that bites the tail that wags the auto industry dog. Win the racers, and you win the enthusiasts. Win the enthusiasts, and you win the whole big, shaggy market. “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.”

  9. pjwood says:

    Be practical. Hybrids are going to be around for years more, in racing. Didn’t electric just get to the 10% of ~750HP in F1, for 2014? Smelling brake dust at the track is still like “napalm in the morning” to many of us. I know I need to let go, but this gets cultural.

    I think it borders on presumptious, at this point, to think EVs give ICE a run for its money on the track. There’s a huge difference between bountiful torque at slow speeds and reaching for fourth at “a buck-twenty”, with lots of horsepower. I know I sound like racer boy, but between high weight and a rapid fall-off in roll-on acceleration, there’s a hole racing technology will only fill in the next decade if they put EV on EV. The 918 is decidedly not an EV, when it rolls down pit lane, and like other ICE vehicles will belong in a class apart from true EV race cars.

  10. Dave Erb says:

    In March 1999, I drove the University of Idaho’s Camaro to first place in the last Street Stock class race ever held by Electric Vehicle Technology Competitions (EVTC). Four laps from the finish, I was sideways at the end of the longest straight on Firebird Int’l Raceway’s #2 road course after my regen braking kicked in stronger than I expected. I’ve worked in various capacities with winning EVs in road, oval, drag, and autocross racing. Four comments, typed by hands that have held steering wheels, calculators, wrenches, and checkbooks:

    1) Racing is a game of acceleration: forward, braking, lateral. F = m a. More to the point, a = F / m (the denominator drives the equation). Due to battery mass, unlimited BEVs would never stand a chance against unlimited ICVs, though unlimited HEVs might.

    2) Race cars are always creatures of their rules. The Can-Am died because, outside of places like Bonneville, there’s no racetrack in the world where unrestricted cars could race safely. But restriction cuts two ways: It’s been obvious since before the Panoz Q9 (and now proven by Toyota and Audi) that the LeMans rules, by attempting to equilibrate performance through inlet restriction, make a fully-developed HEV virtually unbeatable. The ACO now has to handicap HEVs to keep ICVs competitive.

    3) Battery exchanges (or, worse yet, Formula E’s car exchanges) are a horrible idea. Back in the day, Formula Lightnings could run over 240 km/hr, and could easily have run race distances of 100 km or more at fairly high speeds. But, with the ability to replace 640 kg of Pb-acid batteries in 12 seconds, we minimized total race time (maximized average race speed) by making pit stops every 12-16 km. We only used regen braking to simulate compression braking, so that our (highly skilled) drivers didn’t have to adapt their driving to the cars. It was a lousy advertisement for EVs then, and totally unnecessary now that lithium batteries enable “normal” race distances at “full” speed.

    4) Travel expenses can decimate a race team’s budget, and event management can exhaust an organizer’s resources. I wish Formula E the best. But EV racing doesn’t need a globe-trotting FIA pro series right now nearly as much as it needs multiple, regional, short season (~3 races/year) series that give designers lots of technical freedom, push vehicle development toward improved range, and fit into existing SCCA, NASA, or similar events. Let me know if you’d like my help organizing one.

    http://www.ashevilledailyplanet.com/opinion/3098-4-reasons-conservatives-should-embrace-electric-cars-

  11. isa says:

    Pikes Peak is the fastest EV race now
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vj1FXZPPfo4