Toyota's electric race to the clouds at 2012 Pikes Peak Hill Climb
The last few years at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb has seen a growing presence of electric racing vehicles at this 90 year old racing event. Toyota Motorsport Group is rising to the challenge with the TMG EV P002, a new iteration of the TMG EV P001 which last year set a lap speed record for electric cars at the Nürburgring track in Germany.
The EV P002 is built on a Radical race car chassis (perhaps the SR8) and features a massive electric drive train designed by Toyota Motorsports. TMG predicts a top speed of 150 miles/hr, in the Pikes Peak configuration. It's powered by a pair of axial flux electric motors with a top output of 350 kilowatts (approx 470 horsepower), a maximum torque of 900 Nm. Each of the motors has its own AC inverter, custom designed by TMG. The EV P002 has no transmission, like many electric vehicles a single gear reduction is adequate for the job, and would only introduce a loss in power. Topping it off is a massive 42 kilowatt-hour battery pack (for reference, the Nissan Leaf has a 24 kilowatt-hour pack) coupled with an offboard DC charging system.
Japanese rally champion Fumio Nutahara will drive the car. In May, TMG conducted extensive testing at the Paul Ricard circuit in southern France to verify car and drive train performance.
TMG notes that an electric car is perfect for the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. That race begins at 9,390 feet and finishes at the 14,110 foot summit of Pikes Peak, on a 12.42 mile course with 156 turns. PPIHC organizers say that as a racer climbs the mountain, the air thins of course, making it hard for a gas engine to maintain power because of lack of oxygen (not to mention the effect on the racers). Because an electric drive train doesn't rely on combustion, it doesn't care what the atmospheric pressure is. An electric race vehicle will continue performing just as strongly in a vacuum as it does at sea level.
Last years car, the EV P001, used a pair of EVO Electric motors, giving a maximum output of 280 kilowatts, making the EV P002 a significant jump in power to 350 kilowatts. With that car they set a lap record of 7 mins 47.794 secs, over a 20.8 kilometers (12.92 miles) distance on the Nürburgring, beating the previous electric car lap record of 9 mins 1.338 secs, by a large margin.
Toyota does not specify whose the axial flux motors are used in the EV P002, but a picture released by TMG contains gizmos which look suspiciously like EVO's motor design.