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.”