Toyota wants to keep its electric car racing title

Even as amateur racing team Drive eO prepares to try and take the cup for the electric vehicle class at the upcoming Pikes Peak hill climb race in Colorado at the end of June, Toyota is busy preparing to defend its title.

The Japanese automaker, through its Motorsport GmbH division, is sending a revised version of its record holding car said to have more performance from its powertrain to accomplish this.

The TMG EV P002 last year completed the 12.42 mile track – which spans 156 turns while climbing 4,720 feet from the drop of the flag, over grades averaging seven percent, to finish out at an elevation of 14,110 feet – in 10 minutes 15.380 seconds. In addition it also established the current electric speed record at Nürburgring Nordschleife.

image via Toyota

Toyota said the car will be in North Carolina for a bit, where engineers will do “aerodynamic upgrades to the Radical-based chassis as well as track testing.” In addition, experience learned from last year’s Pikes Peak race is said to have led to increased motor speed and torque in addition to fine tuning the powertrain’s operating parameters.

Racing the TMG EV P002 this year will be Rod Millen, 61-year-old New Zealander who already holds multiple records at Pikes Peak as well as being a regular competitor behind the wheel for Toyota. Last year the car was driven by Fumio Nutahara.

One big thing Toyota is pinning its hopes on is its off-board battery-to-battery charging technology to charge the vehicle from the mountainside where there is no reliable connection to the grid. A DC charger tied to a 42 kilowatt lithium ion battery is mounted in a small Toyota van and will serve as the mobile charging point for the P002.

“The TMG EV P002 has a perfect history of three records from three attempts,” said Claudia Brasse of Toyota in a statement, “none of which have been beaten, so we have high standards to maintain. But as well as the electric powertrain itself, we are successfully innovating in the area of charging infrastructure. It is easy to take this for granted when you are working in a well-supplied laboratory or workshop. But motorsport doesn’t always take place in such an environment; you have to deal with varying levels of infrastructure and uncertainty regarding the power grid. The potential for off-board battery-to-battery charging technology is great, particularly in the world of motorsport where infrastructure limitations will increasingly become a source of frustration for electric motorsport.”

* Nino Marchetti, EarthTechling