Venturi VBB-3 Wants To Hit 373 MPH At Bonneville Salt Flats
When it comes to the business of going fast, it seems like EVs are really starting to come into their own. Tesla just announced that its Model S sports sedan is now equipped with “Ludicrous” mode, which drops the 0-to-60 time to just 2.8 seconds. The fastest cars at Le Mans are all hybrids. At the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb this year, an EV won outright for the first time in the event’s nearly century-old history. Now, it looks like the above-pictured lightning-bolt-on-wheels is ready to set a new world record in the realm of EV top speed.
It’s called the 2014 Venturi VBB-3 (Venturi Buckeye Bullet 3), and it’s a third-generation all-electric land speed record car built as a collaborative effort between Venturi Automobiles and the Ohio State Center for Automotive Research.
Piloting the VBB-3 will be Roger Schroer, test driver at the Transportation Research Center in Ohio and the current FIA world-title holder for EV land speed records. Back in 2010, Schroer set the current record of 308 mph behind the wheel of the VBB-2.5 (Schroer actually hit a top speed of 320 in one direction, but official FIA land speed record-setting practices state the speed must be achieved in back-to-back runs in opposite directions).
This time around, the team hopes to obliterate the old record, and its latest-gen racer should have the goods to do so. Output is rated at 3,000 horsepower, making it the most powerful electric car ever built. With that kind of muscle properly applied across the barren expanse of the Bonneville Salt Flats, the team hopes to reach 600 km/h, or 373 mph.
The VBB-3 will see a public unveiling at Bonneville during Speed Week, held between August 8th and 14th, with the official record-setting attempt scheduled between August 17th and 21st.
Update 07/23/2015: Unfortunately, this year’s Speed Week was cancelled due to weather conditions, so we won’t get to see the updated VBB-3 establish a new record so soon.
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Why it matters
Hey internal combustion – you better watch your back, ‘cause the EVs are coming.
But here’s the thing – EVs have been on the way up for quite some time now. Recent developments (that is, developments which have occurred in the the past 10 years) have certainly thrust the EV into the public consciousness, but it’s more of a rebirth than a brand new thing.
However, in the realm of top speed records, the EVs still have a bit of a mountain to climb when it comes to taking on four-wheeled vehicles powered by the exploding stuff.
You see, EVs have actually been around for almost two centuries now. In fact, the VBB-3 is nicknamed the after “La Jamais Contente” (“The Never Satisfied”), which was the first road vehicle (EV or no) to break the 100-km/h (62-mph) barrier. Built in 1899, the original La Jamais Contente used two direct-drive 25 kW motors for a total of 68 horsepower, which powered a torpedo-shaped body made from an alloy consisting of aluminum, tungsten and magnesium.
And while the Venturi/Ohio State effort isn’t quite that old, the team does has extensive experience chasing EV speed. In addition to developing the current record-holding VBB-2.5, Venturi Automobiles also sponsors a Formula E team.
The latest-generation VBB-3 is a further extension of the company’s “strategic R&D initiative” designed to push the limits of electric drivetrain technology. The car has actually been ready to show its stuff for two years now, but back-to-back meteorological complications have thwarted successive attempts at setting a new world record, with heavy rains flooding the Salt Flats in 2013 and 2014.
Despite this, the team still managed to set a record of 270 mph, good for a new record in the EV Over 3.5 Metric Tons weight class, but not enough for the overall EV record.
If the weather holds, the VBB-3 should easily outrun its predecessor. It comes with far more grunt than the 800-horsepower VBB-2.5 from 2010. That car was also FWD, while the AWD VBB-3 should have substantially more grip on the salt. Other interesting stats include an overall length measured at 37 feet, and a carbon-fiber and aluminum honeycomb composite tub chassis that’s overlaid with carbon-fiber bodywork.
It’s a potent package – that much is certain. However, in the realm of top speed records, the EVs still have a bit of a mountain to climb when it comes to taking on four-wheeled vehicles powered by the exploding stuff. The rocket- and jet-powered 2014 Bloodhound SSC, for example, looks set to break the non-EV land speed record of 763 mph by being the first car to hit 1,000-mph.
But as EV technology progresses, look for electric power to challenge traditional methods of propulsion on a racetrack near you.
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