James Allen on EV Toyota going for Nurburging electric record …

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Toyota i-Road EVs Electric Cars

James Allen on EV: Toyota going for Nurburging electric record – are they after EV race series deal?

No official pics of Toyota’s racer yet, but we’re told it will be similar to the e-Wolf EV pictured

By James Allen on August 2, 2011 12:25 PM

Toyota has just announced it’s attempting to smash the electric vehicle lap record at the infamous Nürburgring Nordschleife, which could indicate the Japanese company is looking to supply EV technology to motorsport’s governing body the FIA for an official electric race series.

The move by Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) is fascinating and my hunch is that this exercise by Toyota is a prelude to them offering to supply the FIA series, as reported in a post I did here on TheChargingPoint.com in April. Jean Todt, president of motorsport’s governing body the FIA, has been discussing the EV series, which will have backing from the EU.

The series is an indication of the interest in promoting EVs among Europe’s politicians; that they want to spread the word about the technology and project a fun image for it. And so they’ve approached the FIA to get them to organise an EV racing series. The idea would be to leverage F1’s powerful media platform globally.

The current EV lap record on he Nordschleife stands at 9min 1.338secs, a time set by Peugeot’s EX-1, and Toyota says it has comfortably beaten that already in informal testing.

The 100% electric car is a two-seater with a top speed of 260km/h and a 0-62mph time of 3.9 seconds. Speaking exclusively today to TheChargingPoint.com, Toyota said the car is similar to the Radical-based ALPHA × 1 SRF, which it developed for e-Wolf. Both cars come out of the TMG headquarters in Cologne, Germany, where Toyota’s F1 team was based until its withdrawal from the sport at the end of 2009.

Toyota says it wants to prove that “green thinking motorsport”, as it puts it, can get fans excited and generate emotion, as racing has done for a century. And as racing has been the test bed for motoring innovations throughout history, so it is today with this project.

Toyota i-Road EVs Electric Cars

“We are extremely confident we can break the record by some distance,” said Rob Leupen, Toyota Motorsport’s Director of Business Operations, “which is an indication of how EV performance is continuously improving.

“TMG is a leader in high-performance powertrains and we want to show the world how far this technology has developed. Our mission is to advance this technology, not only in motorsport but in the automotive sector in general, to deliver products with more performance and better durability for our customers.”

The record attempt will be a good illustration of progress in technologies like battery management and will send out a powerful signal about the potential of electric vehicles. It is vital that people who are used to petrol powered motoring feel excited about EVs and this kind of thing helps to break down the barrier.

It would be quite a breakthrough for the profile of EVs. There are other manufacturers interested in supplying this series and seeing Toyota make this move could encourage more. It feels to me like the start of something.

Toyota’s record attempt will be on 29 August.

Here’s a video of the e-Wolf ALPHA × 1 SRF in action:

Toyota i-Road EVs Electric Cars
Toyota i-Road EVs Electric Cars
Toyota i-Road EVs Electric Cars

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