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Electric Le Mans racing car

Stephen Dobie
19 May 2009

Electrically powered racing car could compete in the Le Mans 24 hours of the future

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Is this the future of motorsport? While Audi advances diesel technology in Le Mans, VW explores CNG and Formula 1 gets in on the act with KERS energy recovery, other companies are fantasising even further about how racing cars can be powered.

This is Swiss firm GreenGT’s take on environment-pleasing motor racing – an electric Le Mans racer. It’s a fairly radical idea, just in design stages for now, but the company hopes to compete in the legendary 24-hour race as early as 2011.

The prototype is the work of French designer Thomas Clavet, and boasts a carbon chassis with a fibreglass body, meeting FIA specifications. Drive comes courtesy of two water-cooled electric motors (each with 100 kW), while power sources are two lithium-ion batteries and some photovoltaic solar panels, essentially a lighter and more flexible way to gain energy from the sun. The latter is technology that’s also set to appear on Koenigsegg’s four-seater supercar, the Quant.

Performance is set to be way ahead of the usual electric benchmarks, with one figure in particular that’s fairly startling – 1475lb ft of torque. That’s the equivalent of two 9FF GTR9s. Power is expected to be around 350-400bhp, which coupled with the car’s 860kg weight – impressive considering the uncomfortable bulk batteries can add – means a sub-4sec 0-62mph time and a 171mph top speed.

Things are just at prototype stage, of course, with Le Mans regulations not yet ready for a car like this and the small matter of electric cars’ iffy range to get past. If GreenGT can make it work, though, and the end result looks half as good as this, we’re all for it…

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