Unlike many of my fellow gearheads, I’ve come to realize just how much potential for performance is locked away within electric vehicles. Major manufacturers have made the mistake of assuming only the eco-conscious care about electric cars. But if the Tesla Roadster proves anything, it is that there is a market for electric performance cars.
Looking for proof? Well last week Kleenspeed, an electric car startup based in Moffet Field, California, took to the famous Laguna Seca raceway where he set a new track record of 94 mph, beating its own previous record of 93 mph.
Kleenspeed is a venture between West Race Cars, Kleenspeed, and NASA. Led by Tim Collins, an investment banker who has owned mining companies and hockey teams, Kleenspeed took a purpose-built race car body (designed for series like American Le Mans) and removed the motorcycle engine, putting in its place 1,600 lithium-ion batteries and a 200 horsepower electric motor. Weighing in at just 1,400 pounds, it weighs more than its petrol-powered cousins, by as the time trial proved, it is also a helluva lot faster.
An average of 94 mph might not seem like a lot for a racecar. Consider however that the all-time record holder Viper ACR managed an average of just 138 mph. True, after just 17 laps the Kleenspeed car was outta juice, and it takes 5 hours to recharge. But when they figure out how to get some more endurance out of those batteries, electric race cars won’t be far behind. Right now though, limited range and a 5-hour recharging time mean this electric race car has a way to go before it’s ready for prime time.
If NASCAR started accepting electric race car entrants to compete against their petrol powered stock cars, would you watch it?
Chris DeMorro is a car enthusiast, blogger, and all-around crazy man who is as passionate about hybrids as he is about Hemis. You can follow his constant misadventures at Three Months In A Mustang.