Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Can Electric Cars Beat Traditional Racers at Pikes Peak?

Are electric cars taking over the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb?
Mitsubishi Motors Co. 7211.TO -2.16% said it will run two electric-powered MiEV Evolution II race cars in the annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, a famous contest of horsepower, handling and courage in which vehicles race up a 12.42-mile course in Colorado Springs, Colo., with 156 turns and surfaces that include dirt, gravel and pavement.
The cars use four motors with 536 horsepower to drive all four wheels. But despite its power and race-car technology, the Mitsubishi isn’t a shoo-in for the fastest-electric-car title. Indeed, the competition has gotten thick.
In the past few years a growing number of electric cars and motorcycles have joined the time-trial race, though fans regarded many as novelties. But last year a Toyota racer called the EV P002 set a record of 10 minutes, 15 seconds, which is in line with the fastest gasoline-powered cars on the hill. Suddenly the electrics were contenders.
Toyota has said it plans to beat its record this year, but it will have to overcome Mitsubishi and others. Then there is the question of whether an electric car can win the overall title or even set a new outright record.
Longtime competitor Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima drove Suzuki SX4 Hill Climb Special with more than 900 horsepower to set the current mark of 9 minutes, 51 seconds – the first to break the race’s fabled 10-minute barrier.