The world of motorsports is quietly changing with the adoption of electric race cars. New technology is making these vehicles ever more viable, and we’re about to see an influx of zero-emissions racers in events the world over. EV West partnered with the Strategic Recovery Institute and Strategic Racing Design to build a Baja Buggy with instant torque, 400 kW of power, and a swappable electric drivetrain that allows for mobile charging.
The EV1 Race Car (not to be confused with the GM-built EV of the 1990s) utilizes an electric drivetrain built by EV West, the same people responsible for the all-electric BMW M3 Pikes Peak racer. SRI is hoping that the EV1 will have potential military and commercial applications, although for now they’re setting their sights on some hardcore desert racing.
This all-electric Baja buggy has some key advantages over the combustion-powered competition. While the 5,000 pound weight is a lot of heft to haul around, 1,950 pounds of that coming from the dual lithium-ion battery packs sending 400 kW (536 horsepower) and 750 ft-lbs of torque to two NetGain 9-inch electric motors.
The key to these battery packs is that they are both swappable, and can be recharged via either a diesel generator or solar power. There is no mention of range, though the combined output if 82 kWh is closer to the Tesla Model S and its 85 kWh pack, which is EPA-rated for 240 miles. Also, being able to deploy solar panels for free charging is a long-term though inexpensive refueling solution. While the diesel generator is an inelegant solution, the swappable battery packs could allow for fully-charged packs to be swapped in for the depleted packs. Companies like Project Better Place see battery swapping as the solution to the problem of limited-range batteries, but I’m still not so sure.
That begs the question, will the SRI/EV West EV1 have enough range to complete any races? The people behind this electric Baja buggy hope to compete in the SCORE San Felipe 250 in March of 2013 and the NOORA Mexican 1000 in April. Will they have enough range and recharging time to make a go at the checkered flag? We’ll find out in a few short months.