Electric race cars may not yet offer the same range as their internal-combustion counterparts, but the differential in lap times continues to get smaller. For a baseline reference, Marco Werner set a Sonoma full-lap record of 1:21.69 behind the wheel of the fearsome Audi R8 Le Mans Prototype in 2004.
On September 7, Kevin Mitz drove a Kleenspeed EV-X11 to a new electric vehicle lap record around Sonoma, covering the 2.52 mile course in 1:35.99. While critics would be quick to point out the 14.3 second gap between the cars, we’d be the first to admit it isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison.
PC World (via Gas 2.0) quotes Mitz as saying that a comparable car with a one-liter gasoline engine would only lap Sonoma three or four seconds quicker than the EV-X11, or some ten seconds slower than the fastest Le Mans prototype. Besides, we’re more concerned about competitive lap times within a class, and it looks like the EV-X11 delivers.
If, that is, the sport of electric car racing takes off. Range is still an issue, with the Kleenspeed able to deliver a mere 20 miles at wide-open-throttle, enough for just under 8 laps of Sonoma before the batteries are depleted.
As Kleenspeed founder Timothy Collins points out, however, battery technology is constantly improving. “Next year nine laps, the year after ten or eleven laps,” Collins said, “Every year the energy density of the lithium cells will be greater.”
We’re no hydrocarbon snobs, and when electric racing goes mainstream, we’ll be just as inclined to watch, cover and perhaps participate in it. After all, electric motors make peak torque at zero RPM, and we’re all about acceleration. With or without accompanying noise.