Future of Energy

Race to the top


Sometimes the road to fame is steep. This one is 19.9 kilometres long and speed records are constantly being broken. Which rally are we talking about and, even more exciting, did an electric car really break all records here in 2018?

These 19.9 kilometres are a steep road to fame: for a hundred years, racing cars have been chasing speed records at Pike's Peak. The mountain race is one of the oldest motor race events in the world. Inevitably, new technologies are put to the test here – due to the tough conditions with 156 bends and an average gradient of seven percent. The rally starts at 2,862 metres above sea level. The finish line is at 4,303 metres. In between lies one of the most dangerous mountain stretches, with sharp hairpin bends. Since the first races with electric cars started around five years ago, one thing became clear: they weren't just along for the ride. And then in 2018 an electric car finally beat its combustion engine competitors with a new overall record. Romain Dumas, driving a VW I.D., raced to the finish line in 7:57.148 minutes, climbing the mountain stage in the Rocky Mountains faster than anyone before. His Volkswagen prototype has one electric motor per axle and produces 500 kilowatts or 680 hp. But wait: how was that even possible? After all, internal combustion engines are generally considered to be more powerful than their electrical counterparts. The latter are praised (if at all) for attributes such as sustainability. But at extreme altitudes they are superior to combustion engines, whose performance is considerably weakened in the thin mountain air. Electric vehicles are also better at cornering, thanks to the low centre of gravity. Not to mention the immediately available high torque. Another benefit is that 20 percent of the electrical energy required can be recovered during braking and returned directly into the battery. All of these advantages are already offered by commercially available electric vehicles.


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