In what might seem like an odd pairing, Birmingham City University and Westfield Sportscars have joined forces to develop the world’s first build at home electric race car kit. The iRACER is an all-electric vehicle designed to educate and excite, while also supporting the growing forces urging the sport of racing to go local-emissions-free.
The iRACER was conceived from the start to be a pure racing vehicle – there is no version suited to or equipped for public roads. It will race in the sports EV class of the EV Cup series.
The specs of the iRACER are reasonably close to those of wingless sprint cars. At 3.6 meters (11.8-ft) in length and 1.635 meters (5.4-ft) in width, the iRACER is short, but not narrow in the manner of midget racers. With a curb weight of 770 kg (1700 lb), the iRACER is heavier than a Formula One car – a natural result of having to carry 200 kg (440 lb) of lithium iron phosphate batteries. The batteries have an energy capacity of 23 kWh, which should power about 25 minutes of racing.
The iRACER is powered by two YASA-750 electric motors, one on each of the rear wheels. The YASA motors are high torque direct drive motors intended for sports car and racing applications. The YASA-750 Weighing only 25 kg (55 lb), each can deliver up to 100 kW (132 hp) at 2000 rpm, produce 400 Nm (295 ft-lb) continuously and have a peak torque of 750 Nm (550 ft-lb), which can push the iRACER to 60 mph in just under 5 seconds.
In the iRACER, each motor is normally limited to 45 kW (60 hp), with the top speed also limited electronically to 185 km/h (115 mph) – without a governor, the top speed is in the 205-220 km/h (130-140 mph) range.
The vehicle is also equipped with a boost button, which increases the voltage to the motors momentarily, and increases the power to nearly the full 100 kW (132 hp) for a well-timed burst of acceleration – at the cost of draining a kilowatt-hour from the batteries every 18 seconds of boost. This boost capability helps insure that race strategy will be as important as speed and skill in reaching the winner's circle.
"This is an exciting partnership between the School of Engineering, Design and Manufacturing Systems and Westfield Sportcars," said Parmjit Chima, Head of the School of Engineering, Design and Manufacturing Systems at Birmingham City University. "The partnership will benefit students by developing a pipeline of valuable technical and employability skills, working on industry-led projects at the cutting edge of hybrid vehicle and full electric technology to aid the environmental agenda of reducing carbon emission."
Chima also looks forward to short Grand Prix-style races to be held on Birmingham's roads to test and improve the iRACER's performance and driveability. Although it would initially be small scale, taking place around the streets of Eastside, Mr Chima believes it could prove a precursor to hosting a Formula E event, with the student race ultimately forming a part of it.
"If we can get something sorted with the city council we could soon be racing it around the streets of Birmingham," Chima told the Birmingham Post. "It might not be on the scale of the Superprix but could be a forerunner of something that could be much much bigger such as Formula E. What I would like to see is a series of races maybe looking at all aspects of vehicles, including a speed race, an endurance race, an acceleration race and a race to climb hills."
The iRACER kit is being aimed at a cost of £13,999 (approx. US$20,850), although that does not include the powertrain or batteries, which are likely to make the total three or four times larger. The kit will be sold by Westfield Sportscars and can also accommodate hybrid or internal combustion engines.
The short video below shows the iRACER in the workshop.
Source: Birmingham City University