EV Records Shattered At Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

By · June 28, 2011

The headline news from Sunday’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is the 10-minute Holy Grail time has finally been broken. But for EV fans, the big news is the record times set by Iuko Hanawa in the purpose-built Summit HER-02 electric racecar, and Chip Yates on his SWIGZ.COM Pro Racing electric motorcycle. Plus, Chad Hord and the Nissan LEAF became the first winners of the new Electric Production Class.

Yokohama EV

Yokohoma Sports Concept HER-02. (Photo courtesy of Yokohama Rubber.)

Hanawa, a skilled performer in world-class off-road racing, piloted the Yokohama Electric EV Sports Concept HER-02 up the 12.5-mile course, which rises 4,721 feet through 156 turns, with a time of 12:20.084. That shattered the course record for an electric car by 57 seconds, which Hanawa set last year.

For this year’s race, the rear-wheel drive Sports Concept HER-02 improved the cooling system of its 200-kW AC Propulsion drive system. The AC-180 induction motor, similar to one in the BMW Mini E, produces 268 horsepower (200 kW) at 6000-7000 rpm and 258 pounds-feet of torque from zero to 5000 rpm. For grip on the road up the mountain—paved to start with, then gravel and then back to pavement—the EV racer was equipped with Yokohama prototype BlueEarth tires that incorporate various environmental technologies, including orange oil compounding techniques.

Nissan’s decision to enter a nearly stock LEAF to run Pikes Peak led to behind-the-back smirks from some motorsports followers. Veteran Nissan off-road truck racing champion, Chad Hord, wiped away those facial expressions. With only 90 mph of top speed, he drove the nearly stock LEAF up the big Pikes Peak hill in 14 minutes and 33 seconds, outrunning several entrants with highly modified internal combustion engines. The time established the inaugural record for the new Electric Production Class.

Pike's Peak LEAF

A Nissan LEAF climbs Pike's Peak. (Photo courtesy of Nissan)

“The LEAF was great fun to drive up the mountain,” said Hord. “With the instant torque from the electric motor we were able to jump out of the many slow corners and the performance was very consistent from the bottom to the top since the electric motor wasn’t affected by the high altitude near the summit like the gasoline powered cars.”

The Pikes Peak LEAF had the same powertrain found in every production model, a lithium-ion battery composed of 48 compact modules and a high-response 80kW AC synchronous motor that generates 107 horsepower and 207 pounds-feet of torque. Nissan did swap the standard low rolling resistance tires for a set with more grip and removed a few of the production car’s interior components, such as seats and carpets, to make room for safety equipment, namely a roll cage, racing seats and safety harnesses.

Last week, we quoted Chip Yates stating that he was bringing his E-bike to Pikes Peak to prove “electric motorcycles don’t need to be slow and boring.” Yates proved that, and then some, by powering his SWIGZ.COM Pro Racing Electric Superbike to a new electric motorcycle record time of 12:50.094 and a 2nd place Exhibition Powersport class finish. The previous Pikes Peak electric motorcycle record of 16:55.849 was set in 2010.

Chip Yates Pro Racing Electric Superbike height="272" />

Chip Yates on his electric Superbike celebrating his record electric motorcycle time. (Photo courtesy of Caliphotography)

Based on a conventional Suzuki GSX-R750, the bike is powered by a liquid-cooled electric motor from UQM Technologies producing 240 horsepower—the most powerful motorcycle to ever enter the Pikes Place race. “This was one of the most exciting and extreme races I’ve competed in,” said Yates. “The ability to come out of corners with 400 foot-pounds of torque on tap made a significant difference in our performance.”

As for the “10-minute barrier,” Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima drove his souped-up Suzuki SX4 Hill Climb Special with more than 900 horsepower up the mountain race course in 9 minutes, 51 seconds. This bested Tajima’s own record of 10 minutes, one second, set in 2007.

In comparing the 900 horsepower gas engine Suzuki’s time to those of the electric vehicles, the EV times are quite respectable: The 268 horsepower Sports Concept HER-02 was just 2 minutes, 29 seconds off the record pace; Chip Yates’ SWIGZ.COM Pro Racing Electric Superbike, with 240 horsepower, was short by 2 minutes, 50 seconds; and the 90 horsepower weakling Nissan LEAF followed the winner by 4 minutes, 42 seconds.

Now that the 10-minute barrier has been conquered, perhaps next year’s spotlight will be focused on an EV—four-wheel or two-wheel—making the run in less than 12 minutes.

New to EVs? Start here

  1. Seven Things To Know About Buying a Plug-In Car
    A few simple tips before you visit the dealership.
  2. Incentives for Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Cars
    Take advantage of credits and rebates to reduce EV costs.
  3. Buying Your First Home EV Charger
    You'll want a home charger. Here's how to buy the right one.