The day started with a qualifying run halfway up the mountain top. It was an interesting mix of conventional loud gasoline engines and whisper quiet, efficient electric racers.
5 AM. The day started much earlier than that, at 2:45. By the time we found ourselves up the mountain, the teams were buzzing with activity and drivers were getting ready. I enjoyed the ride up the mountain in a 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer, specially prepared for the occasion.
5:30 to 8:30. The practice runs were surreal. When the first sunlight rays appeared, there was an interesting mix of noisy cars and very quiet electric vehicles (EV) dashing up the mountain, as you can see below. A few American muscle cars started up with deafening noise, while the electric racers quietly lined up. It was indeed surreal considering the relatively close performance of both. The gasoline cars have to struggle not only at this thin-air altitude, but with a long clutch engage lasting a few yards from the start line. You could hear and see them exert every bit of power to get that initial momentum going.
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When it came time for the electric car racers, since they make close to no noise, they emitted a siren-like beeping sound to announce themselves. The real fun was to see how quickly they started. In a the whizzing sound that seemingly showed little effort, they negotiated those first few yards with tires ripping the asphalt. There is something to be said about a motor that delivers its full torque as soon as it spins. This where they make even more sense in a hill climb race.
Star Attractions. By far, the star attractions were the two Mitsubishi MiEV II I wrote about yesterday. Toyota had its lone TMG EV P002, next to Team Yokohama EV Challenge and their AC Propulsion drivetrain. I caught up with Joshua Allen, Vehicle Product Engineering Manager at AC Propulsion to find out more about this EV. I will write an article on the other electric racers. The Tajima Monster was there and by far bigger than pictures can portray. Finally, the e0 PP01 from Driveeo.com surprised is with a modified Lola B20. Sound familiar?
So far, both Mitsubishi i MiEV Evolution II with their highly advanced proprietary Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) all-wheel drive technology have done very well. The 50 kWh high-capacity lithium-ion batteries by Lithium Energy Japan (LEJ) with GS Yuasa cells handled as well as could be hoped. Mitsubishi Motors’ goal is to use the data from the Pikes Peak event to enhance the durability and reliability of its advanced 100 percent electric vehicles, and upcoming plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), as well as conventional gas or diesel-powered hybrid vehicles in the company’s future vehicle development. We look forward testing the Outlander Plug-In Hybrid soon.
What can we see about this practice run so far? It was smoking — virtually. The Toyota TMG EV P002 wasn’t running as fast as Toyota had hoped but we can’t discount them. Tajima’s Monster was also not running as fast as the team hoped. The Yokohama EV Challenge Team did very well up the mountain, with AC Propulsion satisfied with the results. The Latvian team and their electric Lola performed well for their first year. Finally, this year’s contender Mitsubishi and their two completely redesigned i MiEV Evolution II raced to the top as expected.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s interviews with both Mitsubishi i MiEV Evolution racers, Hiroshi Masuoka and Greg Tracy, and more from this year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.