Peugeot EX1 Is Fastest Electric Car at Nürburgring (Video)
We all know that electric cars are perfect for daily city driving, but the Peugeot EX1 answers another question. Can an EV perform on a racetrack?
Peugeot didn't chose the easiest way to find out. It went to the Nürburgring, the mighty German track. When Nissan launched its super high performance GT-R in 2007, it didn't initiate any communication campaigns. Nissan just went to the Nürburgring, set a new lap record for production cars—and that was that.
Many racers call the Nürburgring Nordschleife the green hell. It's a lovely place, most of the track seems to be in the middle of a forest, with beautiful trees all around, a hilly area too, meaning lots of going up and down, and every curve possible as the track is incredibly long: 12.9-mile. All racers believe it's the most dangerous racetrack in the world. Niki Lauda had his famous accident there, and Formula 1 moved to Hockenheim since then. So the Germans built another track, much safer, and Formula 1 went back to the Nürburgring, but it's the Nordschleife—the Northern loop, that's the older track—that makes racers and enthusiasts dream all over the world. Peugeot went there with its EX1 prototype.
At first (which was last year), I thought it was nothing more than a show car, and I wasn't very enthusiastic about it. I've already seen too many electric concepts. I want to see EVs actually being driven. The EX1 is a two-seater with an open cockpit, and a very strange look—as the rear of the car is narrower than the front. It looks much more like a non-running concept than a production model. The powertrain is equally original, with two electric motors, one on each axle. There's a lot of power available: 75 kW continuous, and 125 kW peak, for each motor. That makes 340 horsepower total and the EX1 has been clocked doing the quarter mile in 12.67 seconds. That sounds good, but I've never been very impressed with straight-line performance. Handling is more important in Europe. Prior to this Peugeot EX1, there was only one example of an electric car racing the Nürburgring that has been made public. It was the Mini E. It did it in a rather disappointing 9:51.45 seconds.
The Peugeot EX1 was much faster, it did one lap of the Nordschleife in 9:01.338 at an average speed of nearly 86 mph.
You may not be impressed if you happen to know that a Nissan GT-R is doing the same thing in seven-and-a-half minutes, but no EV is known to have been driven faster at the Nürburgring. Peugeot established a new lap record for EVs and that is good news. EVs are getting faster! It's especially newsworthy that Peugeot established this record, as many were afraid the French brand had given up on EVs. You can buy an electric Peugeot today in France, but Peugeot won't build it. The Peugeot Ion comes from Mitsubishi, and the electric Partner is built by Venturi. The EX1 proves at least that there some people working on EVs at Peugeot.
So you may wonder why it didn't go faster, if Peugeot has a team of engineers working on the EX1, and my reply is that more development is needed. The Nordschleife is a very demanding track. The track surface is terrible. There are many bumps, and there thousands of stories of cars with broken suspensions, or failed brakes. The close-up shot below shows that the discs were red-hot on the Peugeot EX1. Batteries are another challenge, as it's impossible to drive more than two laps. Yes, that's only 18 minutes of driving a 26 miles distance, but at racing speed it's enough to totally discharge 30 kWh of the best lithium-ion in the EX1.
Engineers have a lot to do to improve the performances of an EV at the track, but I believe this EX1 is a good start. In case someone wants to better it, the Nordschleife is often booked by car manufacturers during weekdays, but it's open to the public most Sundays in the summer. I believe there will be new EV contenders very soon.
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