Electric vehicle technology is making major headway in some of the world’s premier motor sports, including Formula One and the Dakar Rally. The electric McRae 4×2 Buggy that will compete in the 2012 Dakar Rally has just completed completed the Spanish Baja Super Special Stage this week as part of phase two in the McRae’s plan to success in Dakar.
Tim Coronel, Dutch racing driver, presented the lightweight prototype for the first electric McRae Buggy to the press and business associates earlier this month. To re-cap, the current prototype is fitted with a 90kw electric engine; the final version should be powered by a 200 kwh motor and a 54 kwh lithium-ion battery, with 89 lb-ft of torque. The McRae Buggy will be competing (or at the very least participating) in the 2012 Dakar Rally this January. Mr. Coronel will be driving the buggy in the 5,500 mi endurance race through Argentina, Chile, and Peru.
Coronel and his partners, Novolectriq, ProDakar, and All Green Vehicles, are not new to the rally-raid world. The electric buggy is based on the vehicle Tim used to win the solo category of the Dakar rally two times. The group also had help from The Netherland’s first astronaut, Wubbo Ockels, and a team of 10 students from the Delft University of Technology. Mr. Ockels is a professor at the university.
The students spent 10 weeks calculating information related to optimum weight, energy requirements, and air resistance. The R&D finished, the Spanish Baja was the first step in the project’s second, real-world testing phase. It completed the 6km race in 6m40s, which would have placed it 13th. The Buggy had only one of its battery packs installed for this particular race. The group is going to be testing the buggy under rugged, extreme conditions in an attempt to gather as much data for the final version. Upcoming testing areas include France, The Netherlands, and Morocco.
The electric Dakar buggy’s biggest challenge will probably be refueling and range. To that effect, the project leaders have created a custom energy management system, with three variable settings: eco, standard, and full attack. The light car will encounter loads of rolling resistance, of course, but they have built in energy recovery shock absorbers.
Refueling will also be an issue, but the site states that they intend for two types of refueling: fast charging, 15 to 30 minute intervals to 90 at 400v, and then a complete change of battery packs at refueling points and from race support vehicles. We’ll keep you posted about its progress in the coming months. For those watching the Dakar Buggy in action: it is completely silent, so be observant and quick to get out if its way!
Source: McRae Buggy