Toyota EV Laps The ‘Ring in The High Sevens

Now this is what I’m talking about. This is what needs to be done to make electric vehicles not only better, but much more fun to drive: Race them. I’ve always found the vocal and bitter response from almost all gearheads to anything and everything EV-related to be highly puzzling. Digging your trench deeper or stuffing your head in the sand and shouting “no-no-no-no-no-no-no” isn’t going to help (nor is it very smart or mature). As much as we like internal combustion engines (and trust me, I like them a LOT) we, as gearheads, are going to have to face facts that a number of years from now, they are going to be few and far between. If we simply refuse to be part of the EV conversation, then we will not have any say in what kind of personal transportation options (i.e. cars) we have in the future.

But if we get in now, and we start saying things like, “That Volt you made is real nice there General Motors, but where’s the sportscar version?” then the better EV cars we will be able to buy in the future.

Of course, what’s the best way to insure that EVs are better all around? What’s the single best thing we can do to make them stronger and faster and more efficient and handle better? Like I said: Race them.

And that’s what Toyota just did by dropping an EV drivetrain into a Radical SR8 and setting out to break Peugeot’s lap record at The ‘Ring. The French guys EV record was at a respectable 9 minutes 1.338 seconds. So everyone seemed to think that Toyota could crack out something in the mid 8s, maybe even the low 8s. Nope. Toyota set a new EV lap record of 7:47.794!

Go check that out in Gran Turismo or Forza and see how quick that is. To put that into focus, that’s quicker than a Nissan GT-R, faster than a Porsche 997 Turbo, faster than a 360 Challenge Stradale ferchissake! That, kiddos, is a damn fast time. Sure, sure, that was in a Radical chassis, but don’t forget that it was running on road legal tires.

The car was equipped with two electric motors that were capable of propelling is to a top speed of 260km/h and put out a combined 800Nm of torque. Or to put it another way, it’s both quick and fast. TMG’s (that’s Toyota Motorsports Group) had a target time of being the first electric vehicle break the eight-minute barrier, so getting down into the 7-40s was a surprise even for them.

Pascal Vasselon, TMG’s Technical Director had this to say: “The goals for this project were twofold: obviously we wanted to set a new EV lap record and I am very pleased we could achieve that so comprehensively. On the other hand, we also wanted to learn more about the operation of our electric powertrain in extreme circumstances; in motorsport there is no more extreme circuit than the Nürburgring. On the record lap the TMG EV P001 performed better than in testing due to the improvement we already could make based on that experience. We have enhanced our electric powertrain development thanks to the information our engineers have gained and our future EV products will benefit from this project.”

And the money guys at Toyota were also happy as well. “This is a very impressive achievement which really shows the huge potential for electric powertrains to deliver fast, exciting action on the race track. There’s no doubt that electric motorsport can be every bit as thrilling as traditional racing and it was an amazing sensation to watch the TMG electric vehicle fly past on the Nordschleife, with only the sound of wind rushing past and tires squealing. To achieve a new lap record at the first attempt, and by such a huge margin, is a great achievement and I am very proud to see TMG’s name in the record books. But this is not the end of the story for TMG and I hope we will see our electric powertrains in action on the track again soon,” said Rob Leupen, TMG’s Director Business Operations.

All I can say is: Great! Now, when are you going to make a street legal version that I can buy … cause a ride like this would be an absolute terror on an Auto-X course!

Source: Axis of Oversteer

About The Author

Tony Borroz grew up in a sportscar oriented family, but sadly, it was British cars. His knuckles still show the marks of slipped Whitworth sockets, strains to reach upper rear shock bushings on Triumphs, and slight burn marks from dealing with Lucas Electric "systems." He has written for a variety of car magazines and websites, Automoblog chief among them. Tony has worked on popular driving games as a content expert, in addition to working for aerospace companies, software giants, and as a movie stuntman. He currently lives in a secure, undisclosed location in the American southwestern desert.

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