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Coming to a track near you: Electric race cars

The American Le Mans Series, International Motor Sports Association and Quimera, a company that works on sustainability projects, recently announced plans for developing a racing series around electric vehicles. The announcement has already elicited a lot of feedback from race fans, many of whom claim the relatively silent electric racers would take a lot of the fun out of the vehicle racing experience.

LeMans Series organizers say by 2013 the group will be ready to launch an international Electric Vehicle (EV) series, the first clean technology professional motorsport championship. Quimera has already built a prototype for the race series being planned. Called the AEGT All-Electric GT car, it is expected to give demonstration runs at selected American Le Mans Series race events in 2012. The championship is expected to begin in the U.S. at existing American LeMans Series races. But organizers say they want to team up with other international organizations to set up races around the world.

The prototype Quimera has come up with is no slouch. It includes a carbon fiber monocoque chassis and produces up to 700 bhp. It can hit 300 km/hr and goes from zero to 100 km/h in 3 sec. Torque is listed as in excess of 1 kNm. The car carries a Lithium Polymer battery pack from EIG (S. Korea) and three 231 bhp UQM electric motors.

Organizers are also interested in including motorcycles in their event roster.

Initial categories under consideration include the GT AEGT (525 kW – 700 bhp)category. The Quimera prototype would compete in this category. It would permit entries of models for which there is no minimum number of cars manufactured while also allowing for inventive bodywork design.

Another category is called the Touring GT (300 kW – 390 bhp): Prototypes for this category are also currently being constructed by Quimera. Powertrains would be up to 350 kW with carbon or tubular chassis permitted.

The NB Series would be for slightly modified road-legal cars with powertrains up to 150 kW. This is intended as an OEM showcase for current EV consumer technology and provides a dynamic platform for the introduction to non-fossil fuel-based race series. They also plan an open wheel F3 type (300 kW – 390 bhp)series. Organizers say Formulec has spent the past two years designing, developing and testing its EF01, the world’s first 100% electric single-seater racing car which will lay the foundations for an open category. It will permit powertrains up to 350 kW with carbon fiber chassis.

There are even plans for a Drifting (170 kW - 220 bhp)series.In this regard, there is a prototype called the Quimera/Letteriello All Electric Drift Car-AEDC01. Powertrains will be up to 250 kW.

The announcement has received a lot of comment from motor sports fans, both good and bad. One of the most interesting posts, on the Edmunds Inside Line site, seems to be from someone on the Quimera team who says that plans are to run the electric vehicles in 10-lap races. This would eliminate the need to do pit stops for fresh batteries which, the writer says, can be done but which have "room for improvement." The writer also maintains that electric vehicle racing is anything but silent.

The American LeMans announcement: http://www.americanlemans.com/primary1.php?cat=news|16459

The Quimera car: http://www.quimera-project.com/Html/Quimera-Electric-GT-01.html

Edmunds Inside Line: http://www.insideline.com/audi/alms-imsa-racings-future-is-electric.html

More interesting exchanges on the subject at Daily Tech: http://www.dailytech.com/Major%20Racing%20Bodies%20Back%20Electric%20Vehicle%20Series/article23789.htm

TAGS: Automotive
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