EV Racing Turns Over A New Leaf
Perhaps one of the biggest disappointments in the much-hyped world of electric vehicles is the fact that no major OEM has committed to proving their battery-powered cars in the crucible of competitive racing. But it seems that this crucial oversight is being addressed by Nissan, which is unveiling a race-spec Nissan Leaf NISMO RC, aimed at pushing the electric racing world forward while proving that green isn’t synonymous with dull. Nissan’s presser explains:
“Combining the talents of NISMO, Nissan’s world renowned motorsports group, and engineers behind some of the company’s Super GT and FIA GT1 race teams, the Nissan LEAF NISMO RC will serve as a rolling laboratory for the accelerated development of EV and aerodynamic systems, as well as a platform for the development of new green motorsports series,” said Carlos Tavares, chairman, Nissan Americas.
The new electric race vehicle will likely make a series of special demonstration appearances at various motorsports venues in 2011, with the company exploring pioneer zero emission competition spec series in future years.
The shorter, lower, lighter racing Leaf has the same battery pack as the production version, but shifts the drivetrain to a mid-mounted position, driving the rear wheels. Early testing points to a 0-60 time of around 6.85 seconds and a top speed of 93 MPH. Nissan’s not announcing any details of the hinted-at racing series, but we’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for the first manufacturer-backed EV racing effort.
I couldn't be happier to see this step being taken. Like many racing fans, I'm not too excited about EV's. However, if they can prove the performance and reliability on the race track I'm sure I'll come around. It will be interesting to see how long the races are. I remember reading an article last year about an electric race car (it looked very much like a ALMS LMPC car) only being able to do 8 laps at Laguna Seca on a charge. EDIT: after seeing the comment above and then clicking to the press release 20 min is not long...or maybe the races will be really long (not far) with 30 min pit stops for charging.
You conveniently neglected to mention another significant paragraph from the release : These things work with CHAdeMO 62KW quick chargers, capable of providing 80% battery charge in less than 30 minutes. Yes 30 minutes is still long for a pit stop, but it doesn't break the concept of racing entirely. Plus, batteries could take faster charge down to even 10 mins, if appropriate charger was used.
One of the greatest times in any racing fan's life is getting to the track at some ungodly early hour -- often already 12 beers into the weekend (otherwise the IHOP/Denny's visit is damned near indigestible), and hearing those engine noises and smelling those weird fuels. If you stand at the right place, sometimes you can smell the brakes and clutches cooking. EV? Maybe I'll just sleep in.
I know it seems really silly to think about a race of vehicles with enough juice to last 20 minutes and then face a charging time but, I could see the ability to swap out batteries in the same way one swaps out tires. Of course the batteries on these things are not as cheap as tires. But the great thing about it is that this is one way that innovation happens.