RaceAbout still in the running for Automotive X PRIZE


July 26, 2010

The RaceAbout, at last weekend's Finals stage of the Automotive X PRIZE

The RaceAbout, at last weekend's Finals stage of the Automotive X PRIZE

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The purpose of the Automotive X PRIZE is to stimulate development of real-world, practical environmentally-friendly vehicles and the resulting designs make for a wildly varied collection. Of the 12 vehicles currently left in the competition, some look like they rolled straight out of Blade Runner while others – like the RaceAbout – would hardly raise an eyebrow in today's car showrooms. But despite its mainstream looks, this thing definitely makes a strong visual – and technological – statement.

The pure electric car was created and is tended to by the RaceAbout Association, comprised of staff and students from the Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. Its rather fetching bodywork comes courtesy of Finland’s Lahti Polytechnic Institute of Design.

To get throught the first two days of the Finals stage of the world’s premiere green auto competition, of course, you need to have more than just a regular car with a stock electric motor.

“The car has four motors, one motor per wheel,” Team Leader and Chief Engineer Sami Ruotsalainen told us. “No reduction gear, but direct drive through a drive shaft from the motor to the wheel. And those motors have been designed through a joint effort with the Lappeenranta University of Technology in Finland.”

Power on the RaceAbout comes in the form of 550 kilograms (1,213 lbs.) worth of high input/output Lithium-Titanate batteries. They provide 243 - 415 volts of juice, at a capacity of 32 kWh. On fast charge, which the team is not using in the competition, they can reportedly recharge in just ten minutes. The combination of batteries and motors produces 1,000 Nm of nominal torque, or 3,200 at peak (738 or 2,362 ft.lbs.). Add a monocoque carbon fiber body to the equation, and you get a claimed top speed of 200 km/h (124 mph), a range of 125 miles (200 kilometers), and an acceleration of 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in six seconds.

Ultimately, the RaceAbout Association would like to see their vehicle become a low volume production, enthusiast sports car. In the meantime, some of its features might find their way into the marketplace.

“First of all, we’re targeting to get some of the systems out there,” said Ruotsalainen. “We are on the right way already.”

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

A 1200lb batteries is rather a lot for only 32kwhrs. Most weight 50-60% of that. And why would one need that much unless one needs 300 mile range?

I built an all composite one that with 500lbs of lithium battery would do 260-300 mile range using medium tech composites. But I wish them luck and they can always change batteries to something lighter and switch to more affordable composites as CF is not that great at 20x\'s the price of medium tech composites. In many case like crash protection, they are much better than CF\'s.



it\'d certainly raise my eyebrow.

C. Walker Walker

There must be something I\'m missing about this car, because just from the statistics, the Tesla Roadster is faster, lighter, stronger, batteries last longer, and there are already over 1000 of them on the roads internationally. Maybe this is proof that now anyone with the resources can make a decent electric car.

Brian McGee
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