New Motor City, Part II

Ariel Atom

You can argue that Tesla Motors does not have true automotive heritage. Their CEO previously ran a company that built e-book hardware. In the new world of automotive engineering, that might not matter. The Wrightspeed X1 is a 100% electric vehicle that sports a proven chassis design from England. The coachwork is based on the Ariel Atom, a two seater that advertises itself as having no doors, no windscreen and no roof. The only problem is that the X1 is for “proof of concept” only. It is not a production model. And that’s a good thing since it’s unlikely to pass US DOT certification without a windshield.

The X1 prototype is just the beginning. It meets its design specs of 0-60 in 3 seconds, 170 mpg equivalent; and at 1536 lbs, is only 36 lbs over the design target of 1500. It really does raise the performance driving experience to a new level, even for racing drivers. No clutch, no shifting, precise and immediate control of torque in drive and braking, perfect traction control…first gear takes you to 112mph…

In recent track testing, on street tires, it achieved the following performance:
0-30 mph: 1.35 sec
0-60 mph: 3.07 sec in 117 ft
0-100 mph: 6.87 sec
0-100-0 mph 11.2 sec
Lateral g: 1.3
Braking g: 1.2

With performance like this, an electric racing league is not an unreasonable idea. Daytona races for 500 miles. That’s a distance that Martin Eberhard says is in Tesla’s future. The 24 hours of Le Mans might be more difficult to do, but it’s an admirable goal. In the short term, I’d love to see the Tesla Roadster burn rubber with the Atom Ariel (gas or electric) in the quarter mile. A few laps around the oval might be fun, too.

Tesla’s CEO isn’t going to invest in racing just yet, but he admitted to encouraging a Tesla “skunkworks” project that aimed to make a race-worthy ride. He said that electric race cars are “inevitable.” Start your engines…

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One Response to “New Motor City, Part II”

  1. Kevin Love Says:

    I have a design for an electric vehicle that has on-board charging systems that could challenge the 24 hour barrier. How about putting together a friendly nationwide competition for the advancement of technology.


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