The BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car can sprint from 0-62 mph in around 4.4 seconds. The recently-announced Tesla Model S P85D can do it in 3.2 seconds, making it the fastest production electric car on sale today and the fastest production sedan on sale today.
As anyone who has experienced that kind of raw acceleration — a force approaching 1g — will tell you, trying to describe what it feels like to be pushed back in your seat by that kind of force is particularly difficult. You only have to look at the number of YouTube videos of speechless Tesla fans experiencing the P85D on Tesla’s specially-designed test course at the recent Model S Dual Motor announcement to understand that. But now a team of crazy swiss students have unveiled a car that makes the Tesla Model S P85D look like a Tata Nano.
Meet Grimsel, a tiny, purpose-built single-seat race car that can accelerate from standstill to 100 kph (62 mph) in a mind-bending 1.785 seconds, faster than your average Formula One race car. Built by the Academic Motorsports Club of Zurich (AMZ), Grimsel is the group’s fifth all-electric race car, following in the tyre tracks of three internal-combustion engined vehicles and four all-electric racers.
Weighing in at 168 kilograms and powered by four 37 kilowatt, 3.4 kilogram hub-mounted electric motors, Grimsel is capable of putting out a combined 1,200 pound feet of torque, accelerating from 0-62 mph in less time than any other electric car we can think of. What’s more, Grimsel can hit 62 mph after travelling just 30 meters (98 feet). That’s less than the width of a soccer field, or to put it another way, just over seven car lengths.
Thanks to its hub-mounted four-wheel drive motor design, Grimsel has no drivetrains, but does make use of a small planetary gearbox in each wheel to transfer the electric motor power to the road. Combined with a sophisticated traction control system, the car is also capable of torque-vectoring, a design feature that makes it possible to finely control the amount of torque going to each wheel in real time, giving it incredible road handling.
If that’s not enough to get you excited, Grimsel’s one-piece monocoque design might. Built by the AMZ team, the one-piece carbon-fibre design weighs just 18.3 kilograms (40 pounds), including the car’s roll hoops.
Built specifically for the official Formula Student race season, Grimsel has already earned itself some pretty impressive awards this season, with overall FSE first placings in German, Austria and Spain, as well as prizes for its engineering design, endurance, auto-cross skidpad and acceleration. With an average 920 points earned per race, it is also AMZ’s most successful car, scoring the two highest scores in the European history of Formula Student.
Setting a new speed record has been its crowning glory, beating the record set last year by last-year’s car, Julier. Also designed, built and raced by AMZ, Julier was also powered by four, 37 kW electric in-wheel motors, but had a 0-62 mph time of 2.6 seconds.
While Grimsel and Julier both top out at a top speed of 120 kph (75 mph) we’re pretty sure driving either car is a particularly visceral and fun experience. We just wish we could actually get behind the wheel and find out just how quick 1.85 seconds is.
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