When Drayson Racing Technologies and Lola Cars introduced the B12 69/EV last year, the electric race car promised to be one of the fastest of its kind. Six months later, it set a record at the Goodwood Hillclimb, and it's now gunning for an even bigger record. Drayson announced this week that it plans to make an attempt at an FIA electric land speed record within a month. It will try to best the 175 mph (282 km/h) mark that was set back in 1974.
Company founder Lord Paul Drayson will attempt to drive a special low-drag version of the B12 69/EV into the FIA record books on June 25. His target will be the FIA World Electric Land Speed Record, sub-1,000 kg (2,204 lb) division. The attempt will be made at the 1.86 mile (3 km) runway of the RAF Elvington airfield in Yorkshire, UK.
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The current record of 175 mph was set by the Battery Box at the Bonneville Salt Flats amidst a total of four speed records in August 1974. Driven by Roger Hedlund, the 1,900 lb (862 kg) semi-streamliner used 28 lead acid batteries to power a GE forklift motor.
While electric vehicle technology has come a long way since Hedlund strung together 28 12 V batteries to power his record, Drayson says that this record has stood because of the difficulty of running such a lightweight electric vehicle consistently at high speeds. Hedlund's overall EV record was broken two decades later, but the Battery Box remains the record holder in its weight class.
"It is not the outright speed that is impressive about this record attempt, but the engineering challenge of accelerating a 1000 kg electric vehicle to such a high speed and sustaining that speed over a measured mile, before stopping safely all within a relatively short distance then turning round and doing it again within an hour," Lord Drayson explains. "It’s a tremendous technical challenge but we believe it’s about time someone moved this record on to demonstrate just how far EV technology has come.”
Because the B12 69/EV was designed to race around the track, not land speed record runs, Drayson is making a number of changes to the racer for its record attempt. Changes, including low-drag bodywork, a smaller 20 kWh battery pack and a detuned 600 bhp version of the 850 bhp drivetrain, are aimed at increasing traction, dropping about a 100 kg (220 lb) to put it under the 1,000 kg point, and giving the car the ability to accelerate to speed, maintain that speed and stop safely. Drayson will not transform the car into the streamliner configuration typical of a land speed record vehicle, however.
"The reason we are doing this is to showcase the maximum level of EV performance at the moment – and in a real racing car rather than a teardrop-shaped land speed record car," Drayson says. "We are also demonstrating the future potential of technologies like wireless charging in speeding the adoption of high performance EVs."
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