High Performance Electric Vehicles

Last updated 2024.02.24

Electric cars perform as well as they are designed to do. Those built in the 1970's and 1980's tended to focus on energy conservation, and therefore tended to use less-powerful drivetrains than contemporary gasoline-powered cars in order to reduce power consumption. This has tended to give all electric cars a reputation for having sluggish acceleration and low maximum speeds.

Well, that does not have to be the case - EVs can be designed and built for performance rather than energy conservation, and were long before Elon Musk met up with Tesla Motors. Check out some of the following items (though there are a lot of dead links after 20-30 years). Still, I would prefer they not be forgotten altogether - their pioneering efforts paved the road for the original Tesla Roadster and subsequent models.

[Dead link: http://www.wurts.net/electrifiedmotorsports/44] ">Dennis "Kilowatt" Berube's Electric Dragster

AC Propulsion and their Honda conversion and ground-up electric sports car, the Tzero.

[dead site: http://zebramotors.com/] Zebra Motors Inc produced an electric sports car (1996-2001). Image of the Zebra Model Z

The Zytek Elise is a Lotus Elise modified to run under electric power. Here's what Popular Science had to say about it (July 1997, page 37)
The Silent Supercar
Is a low-volume electric supercar on the horizon? Yes, if there's sufficient demand for the car, says U.K.-based Zytek Automotive Ltd., which has developed an attention-grabbing electric Lotus Elise prototype with support from Group Lotus Ltd.
Both gas and electric versions of the Elise boast a featherweight 155-pound extruded aluminum space frame and lightweight composite body shell. Curb weight is just 1,930 pounds, including batteries -- a full 1,000 pounds lighter than GM's EV1.
Its supercar-like acceleration is estimated at 0 to 90 mph in just 11.2 seconds, quicker than the standard Elise. A 300-volt nickel-cadmium battery pack is said to offer a 120-mile driving range and a one-hour recharge to 95 percent. Top speed is electronically limited to 90 mph.
The impressive power is provided by twin 100-horsepower (75-kilowatt) oil-cooled Zytek brushless DC motors, each mounted to single-speed aluminum gearboxes that transmit power to the rear wheels via equal -lenght driveshafts.
The car is reportedly headed back to Lotus for ride and handling refinements. If produced for sale, the electric Lotus would cost about the same as the standard Elise, batteries not included.

The Zytek Lotus Elise at EVS-14 Photo copyright Bob Wing 1997 - used with permission (colour - 393k)
Under the hood of the Zytek Lotus Elise Photo copyright Bob Wing 1997 - used with permission (colour - 445k)

The National Electric Drag Racing Association (NEDRA) Web page.

"Current Eliminator IV" an electric dragster owned and driven by Dennis Bérubé, has achieved a 1/4-mile elapsed time of 8.801 seconds. This is the successor vehicle to one that has beaten race-prepared Dodge Vipers in the quarter mile.

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