One of the great things about annual events like the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is that we get a clear image of how technology advances in motorsport. This year, the 12-mile uphill sprint was rampant with all-electric vehicles, with one of them taking the overall win for the first time.
Racer Rhys Millen sealed the overall win, setting a stage time of 9:07.222, with a second EV by Tajima Motors securing the second spot. Millen secured the time in a Drive eO PP03 single seater built by a custom EV and hybrid engineering company. The single-seater cranks out 1,020 kWs (the equivalent of 1,367 horsepower) and 1,593 pound-feet of torque from six different motors. This is sent to all four wheels by way of a single reduction gear. The racer's speed tops out at 161 mph.
It's a significant achievement for an all-electric car, which had an almost 30-second time gap over the fastest gas-powered challenger. One of the advantages an EV has over good ol' combustion power plants is that they don't require oxygen fed into them to generate power. As race cars sprint for the peak at 14,107 feet, the air thins out, leaving gas motors gasping.
Still, while it's a big win for EV, the tech has a long way to go for setting the current record of 8:13.87 set by Sebastian Loeb in 2013. Loeb achieved his run in a heavily modified race variant of the Peugeot 206, which was powered by a turbocharged 3.2-liter V6. It was able to churn up 875 hp, rocketing its rally champion pilot up the hill in record time.
Performance landmarks like these go a long way in validating the growing electrification of vehicles for people who don't deem them as good or better than current methods. Gas may be king, but records like this prove that electricity is catching up quick.