reported by Arstechnica: Electric racing cars are in vogue right now. The first Formula E championship just concluded in London (sadly the Ars-sponsored car did not win), and this side of the pond saw an electric vehicle win the prestigious Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado, setting a new record in the process. Rhys Millen took his Drive eO PP03 to the top of the mountain in 9:07.022, beating rival Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima by more than 20 seconds.
Millen's race car is rather interesting. The Latvian-made Drive eO PP03 uses six electric motors, three stacked in series for each axle. A 50kWh lithium-ion battery feeds those motors, giving the PP03 1,368hp (1,020kW) and 1,593lb-ft (2,160 Nm) at its disposal. Millen's time is the fastest for an EV, but still almost a minute off the outright course record, set in 2013 by nine-times World Rally Champion Sebastian Loeb and his fire-breathing Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak. That car was more than 700 pounds (325kg) lighter than the PP03; maybe with some battery development, an EV will beat Loeb's time.
The annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado is the second-oldest race in the US. It first took place in 1916, and it's a unique challenge for man and machine. Starting at Mile 7 on Pikes Peak Highway, cars race one at a time up the side of Pikes Peak, completing 156 turns in 12.4 miles (20km). It may be familiar to you from Gran Turismo 2, featuring prominently in that game, and indeed Polyphony Digital sponsored this year's race, making us wonder if the iconic event will reappear in GT7, whenever that happens to arrive.
For most of the race's long and storied history, Pikes Peak Highway was covered in gravel, but environmental concerns led to the road being paved all the way to the summit in 2011. Since then, rally cars with supple suspension, good ground clearance, and knobby tires have given way to vehicles more at home on a smooth racetrack than a forest trail.
Electric vehicles (EVs) in particular have done well since the resurfacing. From the starting line at 9,390 feet (2,862m) above sea level, the cars climb another 4,720 feet (1,440m) to the summit, causing even forced induction engines to lose power as oxygen molecules become fewer and farther between. But electric motors don't have the same altitude problem, making just as much power and torque in a vacuum as they do at sea level. Consequently, it's become a place for people to test out new EV technology.
|Rhys Millen pilots his Drive eO PP03 electric car up the mountain to victory.|