Contrary to what most people think, electric vehicles are not a recent innovation. In fact many of the original “horseless carriages” ran on electric power, and the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) World Electric Land Speed Record of 175 mph was set by Battery Box General Electric back in 1974.
That record finally fell on Friday when Drayson Racing’s battery-electric Le Mans prototype, dubbed “Lola” hit a top speed of 204.185 mph on a 3-kilometer track on an RAF airbase in Yorkshire, England.
Lord Paul Drayson, who personally took the wheel during Lola’s record breaking runs, said, “I’m delighted we’ve beaten the record tonight and can show the world EVs can be fast and reliable.” He went on to say, “It is not the outright speed of 204.185 mph that is most impressive about this record, but the engineering challenge of accelerating a 1000 kilogram electric vehicle on a short runway over a measured mile.”
The Drayson B12 69/EV sports a carbon fiber chassis and body and a 30 kilowatt-hour battery, and is fitted with a custom-designed set of Michelin LM P1 tires.
Although the popular belief is that electric vehicles are by their very nature slow and unresponsive (think Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf), electric motors actually deliver maximum torque the instant they start spinning. The Lola is capable of accelerating from a standing start to 60 mph in under 4 seconds.
In August of 2010 the “Buckeye Bullet, a battery-powered vehicle built by Ohio State University students turned in an average speed of 307.7 mph during two runs at the Bonneville Salt Flats, but the results were not sanctioned by the FIA.
Top EV Racing currently holds the Guinness Record for the “Quickest and Fastest” electric vehicle. The company’s specially designed electric dragster has clocked 0 mph to 100 mph acceleration in an amazing 0.8 seconds.
The focus on EV speed will reach a new apex with the launch of the FIA Formula E Championship in 2014. Demonstration events are scheduled to commence during the second half of this year.