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When we think of electric cars, probably the first thing that comes to mind is the Chevrolet Volt, which is smooth running but needs frequent recharging. Plus it's no speed demon.
But if you think electric cars still deserve consideration, take a look at the "Grimsel," the creation of the technical schools ETH Zurich and Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. On Nov. 3 the students put the spurs to the car and got it to accelerate from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour (62 mph) in 1.785 seconds, using less than 30 meters of track.
That's nearly twice as fast as Tesla's fleet Model S P85D. And it's record-breaking.
One of the 30 students from the two schools, all members of the formula Student team at the Academic Motorsports Club Zurich (AMZ), had the Grimsel roaring down a runway at the military airfield in Duebendorf to beat the old record of 0-to-100 kph in 2.134 seconds that had been held by an electric car built by the Netherlands' Delft University of Technology.
The new record is awaiting ratification by the Guinness Book of World Records.
The car itself is a Formula Student vehicle designed and constructed in less than a year by students at both ETH and Lucerne. The record-breaking car, the fifth iteration of the students' continuing research, packs 200 horsepower and its chassis is a one-piece carbon-fiber shell, strong and light. It weighs 370 pounds.
The rubber meets the road with tires measuring 7.5 inches in width attached to the hubs with one-piece, again made from strong, light carbon fiber.
Grimsel is a four-wheel-drive vehicle, though probably not meant for driving in inclement weather or over rough terrain, but for efficient speed. Each wheel hub is fitted with special electric motors which together generate 1,202 foot-pounds of torque. The car distributes torque individually to each wheel to optimize acceleration while minimizing wheel spin.
ETH Zurich says this is the strongest acceleration of any other production vehicle ever made.
This wasn't the first success for the "Grimsel." During the summer it also won several races at the Formula Student international competition. More than 500 teams are represented at Formula Student, the world's largest such event for engineers held each year in a different country.
"Grimsel" managed three wins in the 2014 competition and racked up an average of 920 points out of a possible 1,000, making it so far the most successful car designed and built by AMZ. The car also had a victory each in Austria and Spain, and by winning both races it earned the highest scores in the European history of Formula Student.