An EV has set a new 0-62 mph world acceleration record. The blistering sprint took only 0.956 seconds and it happened in a race car designed and hand-built by students in Switzerland. Interestingly, a “kind of vacuum cleaner” played a role in the record. We’ll get to that surprising fact in a moment. Here’s how the electric vehicle acceleration record went down.
The Car is Called “Mythen” and it Set an Electric Vehicle Acceleration Record
The car that set the record is called “mythen” and it was built by students from ETH Zurich and Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. These students are members of the Academic Motorsports Club Zurich (AMZ) in Switzerland. It took the students almost a year to design and build the car. It was no easy task. Setbacks were common and some components required several redesigns so they would achieve their intended purpose. All the car’s components, including the chassis, battery, printed circuit boards, and four-wheel hub motors, were developed and optimized by the students. Thanks in part to lightweight carbon and aluminum honeycomb, the car weighs only 309 pounds. This lightweight design is complemented by 240 kW of power, or around 326 hp. Wait, 326 hp in a 309-pound car? Yes, please.
Traction, Assisted by “A Kind of Vacuum Cleaner”
The car made plenty of power, but traction is another piece of the puzzle. “But power isn’t the only thing that matters when it comes to setting an acceleration record – effectively transferring that power to the ground is also key,” says Dario Messerli, Head of Aerodynamics at AMZ. The team noted that at high speeds, race teams like Formula One use aerodynamics to push the car down. This is often accomplished by using a front or rear wing. However, this requires high speed. The team needed traction right from the start line, so they devised a device they call “a kind of vacuum cleaner.” This apparatus helped hold the vehicle down to the ground by suction, thus enhancing traction.
Downforce Via Vacuum
Mythen’s traction-enhancing vacuum appears to be sorta kinda along the line of the Chaparral 2J Can-Am “sucker car” race car from the 1970s. The 2J included body skirts and a pair of fans driven by a two-stroke engine to create downforce-enhancing vacuum. The Chaparral 2J’s system produced extraordinary downforce no matter the speed. This resulted in incredible traction as well as maneuverability.
Setting the Record Straight (Line)
The AMZ team is no stranger to EV world acceleration records. It set a record in 2014 and in 2016. However, a few years later a team from the University of Stuttgart set a new record. Thus, the AMZ team was wanting to get the record back in Swiss hands. That happened with Kate Maggetti behind the wheel. It took only a tad over 40 feet, and it beat the previous record of 1.461 seconds by more than a third. Yann Bernard, Head of Motor at AMZ, summed up the experience: “Working on the project in addition to my studies was very intense. But even so, it was a lot of fun working with other students to continually produce new solutions and put into practice what we learned in class. And, of course, it is an absolutely unique experience to be involved in a world record.”
All photos by Alessandro Della Bella/ETH Zurich