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EV1 Electric Race Car

Race-dezert.com sat down with SRD (Strategic Racing Designs) for a Q&A about the new EV1 electric race car they just finished. Check out the info, pictures and YouTube video showing what this project is all about.

What made you decide to build an electric car?

This project was brought to us by Jeff Smith at the Strategic Recovery Institute (SRI) who was inspired by LtGen. Pillsbury’s challenge during a SCORE driver’s meeting to create a sustainable vehicle for military application. Jeff saw this challenge as a marketing opportunity and means of generating partnerships (investors) to move forward with the development of his organization. “SRI’s strategy is to build and market electric powered vehicles to provide jobs for the graduates that complete the year-long rehabilitation program that SRI is creating.  Racing clean-tech vehicles is an attention gainer and provides advertising opportunities for manufactures of Off-Road and High-Tech products that want to partner with team SRI to help others learn to help themselves.” – Jeff Smith

SRD built electric car
SRD built electric car

We were excited to undertake such a venture, as custom, purposeful building is really what SRD specializes in. While we appreciate the “green” movement that SRI is so passionately advocating, our intention was more to prove capabilities of an alternative (an often misrepresented) power plant as well as to accomplish something that hadn’t been done before. What better way to do that than in the supremely demanding Off-road arena? Our goal was to build a car that will be competitive against gas powered vehicles, have a range of 100 miles between battery charges or swap-outs, hit a top speed of 125 Mph and have the endurance to sustain 1300 miles or 35 hours of continuous operation in some of the world’s most challenging terrain.

What is the background behind this project?

SRI partnered with us (SRD) and EV West to construct the vehicle. EV West, who recently built and competed at Pikes Peak in an Electric BMW, was responsible for the electrical engineering of the EV1 and crucial in R&D. SRI presented this task with an extremely constrained timeline. To meet their original goal of  racing this First of Its Kind vehicle in the Baja 1000 (just 9 months from the project’s conception), they provided us with a Brenthel Industries chassis and suspension system to start from, which SRD modified to accommodate batteries and the electronic monitoring systems as well as the standard components of a Class 1 vehicle. SRD was asked, in addition to building the EV1, to acquire sponsored products, drive/co-drive (with Jeff Smith), and provide chase and pit support. Mastercraft Safety provided seats, harnesses, limit straps and window nets – Bilstein provided all the shocks – and Baja Designs provided the lighting system.

What are the specs of the motor and batteries?

2 NetGain Motors – Warp 9” DC Motors – @ 80% efficiency: 450 HP, 700flb Torque

2 EVnetics Soliton1 Controllers

138 CALB 3.3 Volt 180 Amp hr. Prismatic Batteries (2 cells of 69) – 82kW

Dual electric motors
Dual electric motors

How does it all work?

In an attempt to prevent catastrophic failure in race conditions, the EV1 is powered by two redundant EV systems that are coupled by a belt drive. Electricity is pulled from the battery pack through its respective controller, where power is pulse width modulated to the motors. At full throttle batteries deliver 190v @ 1000 amps to each motor. Accessories are powered by a 12 volt system that is constantly charged via 2 DC/DC convertors.

At this point, the major challenge (much like with any gas motor) is keeping temperatures within a safe operating range. There are 30 instruments, including several infrared and Hall Effect sensors placed throughout the vehicle to monitor temperature among many other things.

How long are the batteries expected to last and how much time does it take to change them out?

The batteries are expected to last 80 to 120 miles depending on the terrain. (This is still being tested) Interesting comparison: this car’s batteries could power a moderate household for about 3 days! In a racing capacity, this car’s battery lifecycle is expected to be 15+ years. With a trained crew, a battery swap can take as little as 5 minutes.

One of two battery boxes that can be swapped out.
One of two battery boxes that can be swapped out.

What is the top speed?

On the first day of testing, we ran the car at 95mph. We look forward to our next trip out to fine tune the suspension and adjust the power delivery systems for true optimum performance.

I know the original goal was to race the Baja 1000. What is the latest with that and for racing in 2013?

We were recently told that SRI does not currently have funding for racing, specifically for the Baja 1000. They are exploring different routes to make a 2013 season possible.

Do you know of anyone else attempting to build an electric race car?

We heard rumors that Traxxis was working on a full scale vehicle, but haven’t been able to confirm or deny.  There are a couple other electric projects that we’re discussing but it’s too early to disclose in detail.

Owner: Strategic Recovery Institute (SRI)
Builder: SRD
Chassis: (Modified) Brenthel Industries
Weight: 4900lbs
Wheel Base: 118”
Track Width: 88”
Front Suspension: Brenthel Ind. Center-mounted A-arms, Bilstein Coil-over/Bypass
Rear Suspension: Brenthel Ind. Trailing Arms, Bilstein Coil-over & Blackhawk Bypass
Engine: Twin NetGain Warp 9
Transmission: Custom Mendeola S4D
Fuel Cell: N/A – SRD Battery Boxes
Ignition: Evnetics Soliton
Tires: BFG Baja TA KR’s 35X12.50X15
Wheels: Method Beadlock Rims
Paint: Sign Art Carbon Fiber Wrap
Seats: Mastercraft Safety
Brakes: ProAm
Communication: Vertex3200
Navigation: Lowrance Baja 540 & Lowrance 940
Lights: Baja Designs Onx LED Systems
Website: www.strategicracingdesigns.com / www.facebook.com/srdraceteam / www.strategicrecoveryinstitute.orgwww.evwest.com / www.facebook.com/electricvehiclewest
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  • November 8, 2012
That's awesome! I don't have a drive train in my class 1 yet, what would a system like this run?