The first wave of electric cars were focused on creating green alternatives to gasoline engines. However, Tesla showed that it is the performance of an electric drivetrain that is getting the large car manufacturers to spend big money on making sure that they have an electric vehicle in their line-up.
Why expensive sports cars? One of the brilliant decisions made by Tesla was when they decided that their first car would be an expensive high-performance EV, the Roadster. The high profits and many deposits that came in are what encouraged investors to believe that Tesla was a company that was going to succeed.
Their next car was the Model-S, which had four seats, but more importantly it was less expensive than the Roadster. The recent Model-3 was even less expensive.
There are still a few holdouts (Lamborghini recently announced that they will hold off on designing any electric model for the foreseeable future), but high performance exotics have always inspired the masses of each new generation.
Part of the reason I wanted to write this is because 2020 is a watershed year for EV’s, whether they are small economy cars, or high performance sports cars. For instance, Toyota has announced they will debut their Solid-State-Batteries (SSB’s) at the Tokyo Olympics. SSB’s have been working great in the lab for a few years now, the only holdup is figuring out the best way to produce them in huge quantities.
SSB’s hold the promise of having half the volume per range-and-power over current packs (or, twice the range, per power-and-size). Since the current status of lithium batteries are already working quite well, the SSB’s will spark quite an improvement in battery pack performance and cost.
The Nissan Leaf is currently the most successful EV, with over 400,000 of them sold to the public. And yet…Tesla is still the focus of the majority of the media coverage about EV’s, and that’s what this article is about. The Nissan Leaf has sold a lot more EVs than Tesla, but it is Tesla that everyone is excited about.
Right now, almost every large manufacturer is announcing their new EV models for 2020, but what caught my eye is the wide range of choices for high-performance sports cars. So…lets get started!
2013 Porsche 918 Spyder
The 918 Spyder has a mid-engine 4.6L V8 with an electric motor attached to it’s output shaft (instead of a V12). This 918 drive-train combination provides “only” 874-HP. The resulting 0-60 time is 2.6 seconds, with a top-speed of 214-MPH.
It does have an “electric only” mode, but the battery is small and only provides about 12-miles of range. The 918 Spyder makes extensive use of carbon fiber to reduce the body weight.
Surprisingly, the V8 engine does not use a turbocharger, but it apparently doesn’t need it. It’s clear that the 400V electric portion of the drive-train was only added to help acceleration. However, this shows that anyone who wants to be competitive in the near future will have to add an electric motor in some way, or…you will automatically be considered “second best”.
This Porsche uses a 7-speed transmission in the rear on the engine/motor, and it has a second electric motor on the front axle, which provides All-Wheel-Drive (AWD). This is important, because having a second motor anywhere on the car will add more power, but by locating the second motor on the front axle, they have dramatically increased the traction. Porsche has produced over 500 units of this model…
2013 McLaren P1
The McLaren P1 is from the UK, and it uses a very light mid-engine 3.8L twin-turbo V8, with a single electric motor attached to the engine. The combined power is 903-HP, which provides 0-60 in 2.8 seconds, and a top-speed of 217-MPH.
The “electric only” range is just 6 miles, in order to keep the battery pack as light as possible. The battery uses 400V, which is very similar to the Tesla system.
2016 Koenigsegg Regera
The Koenigsegg Regera is from Sweden, and it has nothing to do with trying to be as green as possible. The addition of three electric motors to a mid-engine gasoline V8 was specifically to improve performance. Christian von Koenigsberg decided to have two inboard motors (not hubmotors), in order to keep the wheels light, and to allow for “differential steering“, which is sometimes called “torque vectoring“. This means that if you are turning to the left, the right wheel receives more power than the left, to help you turn.
These two rear-axle motors are also configured so that this car has an “electric only” mode that allows for 22 miles of range. Obviously the battery pack is small, and it is intended to be kept charged up by the gasoline engine as the primary mover. The engine is a twin-turbo 5.0L with four valves per cylinder.
The third motor is quite interesting, and it is a large and thin pancake motor, that operates as the engine-starter, and also as a powerful alternator once the engine is running.
Cars that can achieve over 200-MPH have often chosen a V12 engine for a variety of reasons, but…by adding a motor to the shaft of the high-RPM V8 (along with the other two motors), the Regera is able to reach 249-MPH. The 0-60 time is a pretty astounding 2.8 seconds, especially considering that it is only a 2WD…
The designer stated that gasoline engines have low power at low RPM’s, and they achieve their peak HP at very high RPM’s. This means that having both was complimentary to each other, since electric motors have high-torque at low RPM’s and then power drops off at higher RPM’s.
In fact, this drivetrain has so much electric power from a standstill, it does not have a multi-speed transmission on the engine. The Regera’s impressive top-speed and blistering acceleration are achieved with a single-speed drive coming off the “engine plus 3-motor” combination that produces over 1,700-HP. Something that is important to mention now, is that the Regera uses about 800V in its small battery pack, and that subject will come up again later…
One last note. This V8 engine does not have cams or a cam-chain drive. The four valves per cylinder are actuated by air-pressure, just like a 20,000-RPM F1 race car.
2020 Ferrari SF90 Stradale
I’m adding the SF90 Stradale to this list, but Ferrari had an earlier car called the LaFerrari, which is also a gas/electric hybrid. The 2014 LaFerrari was priced at $1.42-million, and it uses a mid-engine 6.3L V12 with a single electric motor added to the motor-shaft (producing 949-HP). This drive-train uses a fairly normal 7-speed transmission.
Based on their experience with the LaFerrari, They are now producing a $600,000 car that has a lot in common with the 918. The Stradale uses a 4.0L mid-engine V8 with twin-turbos, and a pancake motor attached to it’s output shaft, which then drives an 8-speed transmission.
The Stradale has three motors, but unlike the previous cars, Ferrari places the two extra motors on the front. This provides AWD, plus torque-vectoring. An additional benefit to this layout is that the front motors can provide the reverse function, so the 8-speed transmission does not have any reverse in it. Like the previous cars, the front motors provide a short “electric only” range of 16 miles.
This engine and it’s three motors provide a peak of 986-HP, providing a 0-60 time of 2.5 seconds, and a top-speed of 211-MPH.
2020 Maserati Alfieri
The Global conglomerate Fiat-Chrysler-Automobili (FCA) owns both Ferrari and Maserati, and they have developed an 800V fast-charging system that several of their brands use. Although the Maserati has a 3-motor variant of the new FCA electric drive system with no engine, the hybrid Ferrari will be faster and more expensive. The Maserati Alfieri will be a battery-only EV, making it less expensive, and of course…not quite as fast as the Ferrari.
Aston Martin Valhalla
This revered British car firm has running-prototypes of the hybrid Valhalla (scheduled to go into full production in 2021), and the carbon fiber body is based on their existing Valkyrie.
The Valhalla a beautiful electric hybrid with a mid-engine twin-turbo V6, and three electric motors using 800V (I’m sensing a trend here).
2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo
There’s been a lot of press lately about the Taycan (The “Turbo” in the name is just marketing). Although it’s a 4-door, it has very good performance with a 0-60 time of 2.6 seconds, and a top speed of 161-MPH. It uses two motors with one on the front axle to provide AWD, and the rear motor has a 2-speed automatic transmission.
The battery uses 800V, which allows the main power cables to be lighter (A lower voltage would require more amps to provide the same power, which would require fatter cables), and the higher voltage also allows for faster charging.
Lithium batteries can be charged at a higher rate when they are near empty, and as they approach full, the charge amps must be reduced on a sliding scale, dependent on the heat being generated (Both Porsche and Tesla use active liquid-cooling on their battery packs). Therefore, a Taycan with a near-empty battery pack can have the first half of its 287-mile range recharged in less than 15 minutes, under ideal conditions.
Tesla Model-S P100D
Tesla makes two of the EV’s that simply changed everything. The original 2008 Roadster showed that an EV could be good-looking and fast. Later, the 2012 Model-S had a battery option that provided 300-miles of range. The Model-S also has the P100D variant, which has a 0-60 time of 2.5 seconds in “Ludicrous mode”, with a software-limited top-speed of 155-MPH.
The Tesla system uses a 400V battery pack, which makes the Battery-Management-System (BMS) simpler than an 800V system.
Aston Martin Rapide E
The standard Aston Martin Rapide uses a V12 engine and a 6-speed transmission. The Rapide E looks very similar, but has a purpose-designed frame for their electric version, which uses two motors mounted at the rear axle. The power is reported to be 602-HP. The 0-60 time is just under four seconds, and the top speed is software-limited to 155-MPH.
Like many others in this performance category from Europe, the Rapide E use an 800V rapid-charge battery pack, that can provide roughly 200 miles of range.
2020 Lotus Evija
This Lotus is one more Euro-supercar that uses 800V to access the popular fast-charge standard in the EU. It uses four inboard motors that reportedly produce over 1,900-HP. Accurate numbers for acceleration and top-speed are unavailable, but the price is a hair over $2-million.
Although the Lotus name has a long history from it’s origins in the UK, it is now owned by a Chinese conglomerate named Geely, who also owns Volvo.
2020 Pininfarina Battista
This company had it’s start in Italy, and it’s headquarters are currently located in Munich, Germany. The company is owned by the conglomerate “Mahindra” from in India.
The Battista uses an 800V battery supplied by Rimac. In fact, this car shares 40% of the parts used to make the similar Rimac C_Two, which saves both of them on costs. There are also many similarities to the Lotus Evija. It uses four motors and is advertised to have 1,900-HP.
Audi PB18 E-Tron
Audi has announced they will only make 50 of the PB18 E-Trons in their initial run, and it will be a “halo” model to demonstrate that Audi has an “in house” expertise with designing and building high-performance electric vehicles. It uses three electric motors, two in the rear, and one in the front for AWD.
It has 661-HP and the 0-60 time is 4.5 seconds. It’s 800V battery pack is reported to have 310 miles of range.
Nio is a boutique car builder in the UK. They have built six of this carbon-fiber model for $3.28-million each so far, and they have deposits to build 10 more.
It uses 800V and four motors, so I suspect it uses some of the same running gear as the Battista/Rimac/Lotus. The power is listed as 1,341-HP. It has a 0-60 time of 2.7seconds, and a top-speed of 217-MPH.
Although Nio is a small company, their EP9 has set a speed record at the German Nürburgring track, and also at Goodwood. So, this is a real car that is quite serious.
This Chinese company is pronounced “shi-AHN-tu”, and they have sold over 1,000 of the K50 in China. A business partner named Mullen Tech is setting up a factory in California to produce them for the North American market, priced at just under $130,000.
The frame is aluminum and the majority of the body is carbon fiber. It uses two motors to provide AWD, one each in the front and rear. Peak horsepower is 430, and the 0-60 time is 4.2 seconds. Top-speed is 125-MPH.
There are actually quite a few examples that I have not added to this list, in order to keep it compact. The point I wanted to make is that the big-name car manufacturers are no longer on the sidelines, and they are investing heavily in electric power. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it…
Written by Ron/spinningmagnets, December 2019