When auto makers get serious about developing a performance car, they invariably take a trip to Germany’s fabled test track, the Nürburgring Nordschleife, to gather data to engineer a true drivers car. The track is a popular test ground since it offers 40 left-hand bends, 50 right-hand bends with extreme gradients to fully put a vehicle through its paces over its 20.8 km length.
“The ‘ring”, as it is sometimes known, has been the preserve of petroleum powered racing and sports cars since it opened in 1927, and short lap times around the track are badges of honor and a measure of a performance car’s prowess. Now, electric vehicles are being put through their paces here too, and Toyota Motorsports Group just attained the electric vehicle lap record with their P001 EV.
For sure, the P001 is no Camry or Prius, but rather, a race specific vehicle capable of 160 mph and a 0-60 mph time of 3.9 seconds; blasting around the ‘ring in just 7 minutes 47.79 seconds. To put that into context, it’s comparable with a high-end Porsche 911 GT3 RS, which only pips the Toyota by a mere 15 seconds.
As the lap-times reveal, in terms of outright performance, EVs are starting to prove their mettle on the racetrack. As reported here last month, the Mission R electric motorcycle lapped California’s Laguna Seca circuit in record time, and was just 10 seconds off the pace compared with MotoGP bikes; the world’s premier motorcycle racing series. You might not hear the roar of an engine, but these EVs are giving up little on speed.
With race tracks such as Infinion Raceway in Sonoma, California making strides towards greening their operations, perhaps we are seeing the beginning of a future where motor racing is a little kinder to the environment.
But, equally important, there is a long tradition of technologies developed in racing finding their way into our everyday vehicles, and indeed, Toyota’s P001 is reportedly a test-bed for innovation that will find its way into their 2012 passenger vehicles. Racing can stir passion and emotion, so maybe this opens the window for an exciting future for electric cars.
The Video below is the record breaking lap.