“There’s a time and a place for everything, and it’s called college.” So sayeth the wise Mr. Mackey of South Park fame, and for some college students that means testing the limits of their BAC or the elasticity of their earlobes. But for others, it’s a chance to build an electric race car that can keep pace with the Mercedes SLS AMG Electric Drive around the Nordschleife.
Having completed a lap of the Nürburgring’s “green hell” in a record-setting 7 minutes and 56 seconds, the gull-wing electric Mercedes supercar held a comfortable lead over the Electric RaceAbout. Built by students of Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, these Finnish engineering graduates and undergraduates are as tenacious as you would expect from a country that single handedly held off a Soviet invasion during the early years of World War II. The ERA’s first laps around the ‘Ring took about 9 minutes and 40 seconds, but consecutive generations of students have improved performance, slowly closing the huge advantage the electric Mercedes held.
The most recent run of the Electric RaceAbout saw driver Jesse Krohn complete a 12.9 mile lap of the Nordschleife in just 8:01 minutes, topping speeds of 281 KPH, or about 175 MPH. That puts just 5 seconds between a four-year old college engineering project (albeit one with about 450 horsepower worth of hub electric motors) and the electric Mercedes supercar that flabbergasted the unflappable Jeremy Clarkson.
Meanwhile, the CEO of Mercedes is crying that nobody is making money on electric cars. Gee, maybe if you tried a little harder Dieter, people wouldn’t be rushing to wait in line for a Tesla Model S or Model X instead.