Autovolt Magazine

Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Won by an Electric Car

The annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (#PPIHC) has been won by Rhys Millen (NZ) driving the Drive eO all electric 1MW racer.

While we in the UK were mesmerised by another sporting event, Formula E in London’s Battersea Park, American motoring enthusiasts lined the windy road up America’s most famous and iconic motoring mountain, Pikes Peak.

Never before has an electric car won the overall competition, which sees a huge variety of vehicles compete up the hill, aiming for the fastest time possible. Motorbikes, cars and even trucks all attempt the climb with a [very] fast speed being anything under 10 minutes to cover the 12.42 mile track up more than 1,400 metres of incline.

Drive eO’s PP03 car for 2015 featured a massive 1MW total power output through its six Yasa-400 electric motors. Statistics for the car beggar belief. The power distribution necessary via inverters has to operate at speeds unfamiliar to anything else. So much so, that all of the car had to be designed from scratch using cutting edge materials. Drive eO have developed the most efficient and controllers currently in use anywhere on the planet.

Drive eO heralds from Latvia where

The 50kWh battery pack had to be able to be charged quickly as well as deplete even more rapidly, discharging in around ten minutes for the run to the top of the hill. This is no small feat as this is the equivalent of driving at least 200 miles in a Nissan LEAF, in terms of energy usage.

Driver Rhys Millen set off on Sunday with one task in hand: beat the petrol cars to the top. He did just that, setting a time of 9:07.222. This beat the record by a second, but critically the closest any petrol powered machine could muster was Paul Dallenbach in an open wheel car, setting a very quick 9:36.496 resulting in third position overall. Nothing else could come close to electric power domination, not even PPIHC legend Nobuhiro Tajima (affectionately known as ‘Monster’), who could only muster 9:32.401 and second place in his Tajima Motors Rimac E-Runner Concept_One electric car.

Despite this amazing feat and achievement for electric cars, driver Rhys Millen had some surprising news after his run. The Drive eO PP03 had been running at half its power from about halfway up the hill. He said:

“The time should have been 30 seconds faster. We lost 50% of the power before halfway. We just lost a motor pack in the back, first time doing a full run you’re going to learn some things. The car should do an 8:38 all day long. The run was flawless but the road was completely different than in practice and there was an under-steer in the chassis just from the heat of the road. But, unfortunately we lost power to the rear motor pack – it’s a four wheel drive car sharing two independent motor pack and we lost power before halfway which was disappointing but hey, I suppose I should put a smile on my face but we were 30 seconds off our target. It’s a new record but not one I’m happy with.”

The outright record for the track rests with Sebastian Loeb, who drove a miraculously flawless run in a heavily modified (to say the least) Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak. The time was an unbelievable 8 minutes and 13 seconds.

To find out more about Drive eO, take a look at their website:

Photos courtesy Drive eO Flickr Photostream