Toyota’s P002 Sets New Pikes Peak Record For EV’s

The results are in, and as expected, records have fallen at the delayed 2012 Pikes Pike Race to the Clouds. All eyes were on the many electric competitors racing on the newly-paved road to the summit, but after the metaphorical dust settled, only one EV was able to come out on top.

That would be Toyota’s P002 electric race car driven by Fumio Nutahara with a time of 10:15.380, a new record for electric cars. But what about all the other EV’s?

Crashes, Breakdowns, And New Records

Before I get to that, I need to note that Rhys Millen set a new overall Pikes Peak record in a 700 horsepower Hyundai Genesis Coupe. He came in at a blistering 9:46.164, beating the previous record held by “Monster” Tajima by a solid 5 seconds. However, this was the first year the whole racing surface was paved top to bottom, and it is worth speculating what the results might have been had the road remained unpaved.

Speaking of Monster Tajima, all eyes were on the 62-year old racer who brought an electric race car of his own design to the peak. Yet after some promising initial runs, Tajima was forced to retire just a mile into the actual race when smoke erupted from his race car, with some reports saying it was from the battery, others saying there was actually smoke in the cockpit. It was a disappointing end for the promising EV, but Tajima has already pledged to return next year.

“Thank you so much for your support. I will be back next year. Watch out for me,” Tajima said.

The BMW M3 EV by EV’s West fared better, turning in a respectable, if not quite record-breaking 11:58. Meanwhile, Hiroshi Masuoka driving one of the Mitsubishi i EV racers turned in respectable time of 10:30 minutes. Third place went to Elias Anderson, a first-timer to Pikes Peak who competed in an EV of his own design called the Novakar, and managed to turn in an impressive run of 11:00 minutes even. However, the day belonged to Toyota’s Fumio Nutahara, who turned in a breakneck time of 10:15, a new record for electric cars, and just 30 seconds off of Rhys Millen’s record-setting time.

For comparison (and Ziv!), last year’s EV record was set by a stock Nissan Leaf, which completed the course in 14-minutes and 33-seconds.

Electric Competition Is Heating Up

Electric cars are proving to be very capable competitors in limited distance races like the Pikes Peak Hillclimb. While it is disappointing that an EV wasn’t able to snag the overall record from the internal combustion engine this year, the gap isn’t nearly as wide as it was last year. At this rate, next year looks like it will be the breakout year for EV’s at Pikes Peak.

Personally, I was rooting for EV West, and I hope they come back in 2013 with an improved version of their electric M3. In my humble opinion, a converted EV production car is more impressive than a purpose-built race car, but I’ll root for just about any EV when it comes to racing.

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.