The other day, we came across a small piece on the "Trophee Andros Electrique". Don't worry, we'd never heard of it, either, but we were instantly intrigued.
You see, the Andros Trophy (expanded info here) is an ice racing championship held in France. It's basically a series of courses that are plowed through the snow (sometimes on a frozen lake), then drivers race small, rally-type cars around them.
Not really a new concept, but what was new was that last year they added an electric series to the schedule. The first year of the electric series, there was a field of 8 cars, this past year it was up to 12. As an interesting side note, Nicolas Prost (son of the famed Formula 1 driver Alain Prost) was the first-ever series champion.
The cars are powered by Lithium Ion batteries which drive electric motors that are the equivalent of 122hp and 200 Newton-metres of torque. They're light, and rear-wheel drive, making for a 0-60mph acceleration in under six seconds (on ice), and a top speed of about 100mph.
In an interview on the show, Mobile1: The Grid, Chief Designer Luc Marchetti explains, "Three years the evolutions of the electric cars' adaptations were needed. A car, which is totally built around a traction chain and batteries. We switched to electric motors, not only for ecological reasons, but also to show technical progress. To show that it's possible to have fast cars that aren't necessarily noisy and polluting. It was a real challenge.
"The biggest challenge, especially in this series, came from climate conditions. Heat, cold, humidity, everything in fact could make things malfunction. Of course today, we've taken all of that into account, and everything seems really obvious to us now. It wasn't that simple - we had a lot of problems that we had to fix over the years.
"Nowadays, with 250 kilos (550 lbs.) of batteries in a race like the Andros Trophy, we're able to drive, on most tracks, 30-40 laps. Most races are only about 6-8 laps long, so we're able to fully recharge the batteries in 20 minutes between races and be ready to go again.
"About the noise, some enthusiasts may miss it. I am really glad to protect my ears now, but also not carry the smell of thermal engines on my clothes in the evening. As for the spectators, there has been a change in people's mentality. The cars do make a little bit of noise, but now we're also working on an electric noise."
So, who's ready to go ice racing with a Prius?
Photo from AutoblogGreen