As Tesla has shown us, electric cars are quite capable of embarrassing their gas-powered rivals, but a new record-breaking racer developed by a student team demonstrates just how potent the electron is. Handiwork of a Swiss team of students, Academic Motorsports club Zurich (AMZ), the race car may look small but it’s not short on power or indeed speed.
In fact, it shot from 0 to 60 mph in just 1.513 seconds, setting a Guinness world record in the process. You can watch it in the following video, but try not to blink because you’ll miss most of the attempt if you do.
The racer itself, which has been named Grimsel, has four motors, one for each of the wheels. While there’s only 200 HP in all, the more important number is torque: that’s more than a frankly ridiculous 1,250 lb-ft.
As for the wheels themselves, they’re made from carbon fiber to help keep curb weight down, and they’re joined by oversized wings to ensure there’s enough downforce to keep Grimsel on the track rather than taking off like a tiny, electric plane.
It’s an important consideration, because the racer only weighs 370 pounds. Like the Model S, Leaf, or e-Golf that might be on your drive, AMZ uses regenerative braking to pump some of the otherwise wasted energy produced by slowing back into the batteries, and the car is capable of translating as much as 30-percent of that power into charge.
Four independently powered wheels means there’s the potential for some very interesting power distribution, and sure enough the AMZ team uses a clever torque vectoring system. Similar to the approach we’ll see Acura use on its quad-motor NSX concept headed to Pikes Peak this weekend – and, indeed, the Honda concept that proceeded it, and which we tried out ourselves last year in Japan – different levels of power can be pushed to each corner of the car depending on which has most grip.
There’s also all-important traction control to make sure as much of that 1,250 lb-ft. of torque makes it to the asphalt as possible.
As for what’s next for the AMZ team – which is made up of students from Swiss universities ETH Zurich and Hochschule Luzern – that’s not clear, but it’s entirely possible that the work done on traction and motor control could be essential in helping future electric vehicles make the most of their power.