Volar-e prototype electric sports car unveiled
By Brian Dodson
March 4, 2013
Spanish engineering company Applus+ Idiada has officially unveiled its Volar-e supercar prototype at the Circuit de Catalunya during the F1 Test Days in Barcelona. Developed for the European Commission and apparently based on the Rimac Concept One, the all-electric Volar-e boasts 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) acceleration of 3.4 seconds, does the standing quarter-mile in 10.3 seconds, and reaches its top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph) in only 12.1 sec.
The Volar-e is a two-seat coupe with a carbon-fiber body over a tubular chrome-moly steel chassis. To achieve its impressive performance figures, the car uses an electric four-wheel drive system that delivers a claimed 1,000 hp (760 kW) and 737 ft-lb (1,000 Nm) of torque. Its four electric motors are situated along the centerline of the car, rather than in the hubs, with the aim of reducing unsprung mass and thus improving handling.
With a wheelbase of 2.77 m (9 ft) and front/rear track of 1.54/1.534 m (60.6/60.4 in), the Volar-e is on a par with the size of its gasoline-powered brethren. The curb weight is not listed, but a rather small (38 kWh) lithium-iron-phosphate battery was chosen in part to save weight.
The car's steering is power-assisted rack and pinion and the front and rear suspension consists of fully adjustable, pushrod operated double wishbones. The brakes are carbon-ceramic composite discs, with 100-0 kph (63-0 mph) stopping distance of a bit over 30 m (98 ft). The car also uses regenerative braking to supplement its stored energy.
The Volar-e powertrain has four separate units, each driving one wheel via a power inverter, motor, and reduction gear. Sensors on the drive units and around the car send real-time information to engine control units, which can then adjust the power driving each wheel hundreds of times per second to produce a desired set of handling characteristics. This Torque Vectoring system allows the Volar-e to be set for driving styles ranging from eco to racing. Like most electric cars, the weight of the batteries results in the car having a very low center of gravity.
Applus+ Idiada was funded by the European Commission (EC) to develop an electric high-performance sports car in September of 2012 and the result, after only four months, appears to be based on the Croation-bred Rimac Concept One, a car that was first introduced in September of 2011.
The Concept One promises an extra-edge performance-wise on the Volar-e: 1,088 hp (827 kW), 1,180 ft-lb (1,600 N-m) of torque, 0-100 km/h (0-63 mph) in 2.8 sec, a top speed of 190 mph (305 km/h) and a range of 300 miles (500 km). The most significant difference between the Concept One and the Volar-e is the battery capacity. While the Concept One's 91 kWh is not a great deal of storage for an 800+ kW motor, powering about seven minutes at full power, the Volar-e's 38 kWh would only yield a range in the vicinity of 125 miles (200 km) when being driven gently, and fewer than three minutes of power at full tilt.
There are no details on any relationship between the Volar-e and the Concept One mentioned in the Applus+ and European Commission press releases, and no word on the matter from Rimac. Regardless of the confusion and controversy over the similarities between the vehicles, however, it's amazing to watch the Volar-e in action, as you can see in the following video.