TZero Stings Its Competition
By Tom Gage
January 29, 2000 -- AC Propulsion' s tzero out-accelerated a Ferrari F355, a
new Corvette, and a Porsche Carrera 4 in a series of impromptu 1/8 mile drag
races held last weekend at Moffett Field in Mountain View, California, and
at Calstart' s northern facility at the former Alameda Naval Air Station.
The tzero was driven to the Bay Area from southern California last week.
That journey spanned more than the geographic distance between those two
areas, it spanned two cultures as well. Hot rodding, coming from the garages
of Los Angeles, and high tech, growing from a garage in Palo Alto, are
combined in the tzero.
The tzero is a silicon hot rod. It starts with the hot rodder's holy grail,
horsepower - 200 of them. But the tzero harnesses the power with 120 IGBTs,
equal to 7200 square millimeters of silicon-based control. The result is
acceleration to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, efficiency equivalent to 70 mpg, and
emissions equal to zero. The tzero is an electric car.
The trip to Silicon Valley was planned to demonstrate the tzero to
entrepreneurs and investors interested in the concept of a high-performance,
environmentally-sensible, silicon-intensive automobile. As word of the tzero
visit spread, the planned demonstrations took on an edge when a
Ferrari-owner challenged the tzero to a race.
The race became reality when both Moffett Field and Calstart made their
facilities available for the politically correct contest of speed. Saturday,
January 22 dawned bright and sunny and an eager group of exotic car owners,
high-tech gurus, venture capital investors and electric car enthusiasts
gathered along the 4000-foot north taxiway at Moffett Field. Cones were set
to mark the start and finish lines, and the tzero, with AC Propulsion
vice-president Alec Brooks at the wheel, pulled up to the start line and sat
silently. The Ferrari made glorious sounds as Rick Schick, a race car driver
assigned to drive the Ferrari for the event paced the high-strung Italian
thoroughbred up and down the track, warming its complex internals with
nervous blips of the throttle and heating the tires with sudden burnouts.
Finally the race was on. Immediately the crowd saw what it had not expected
to see. The tzero leapt ahead at the start. The Ferrari' s 32-valve, 4-cam
V8 engine screamed its delicious song in vain effort against the mute power
of the tzero' s 120-IGBT-fed 3-phase induction motor. The spectators gasped
at the sight of the tzero driving away from the automotive icon from Modena.
At the end it was tzero by eight car lengths.
A Corvette C5, the newest example of American V8 muscle from Chevrolet
stepped up to defend the honor of combustion power. Considered opinion had
the Corvette, with its large displacement, high torque V8, putting up a good
fight in the short 1/8 mile sprint. But against the tzero, the result was
the same, proving in equally convincing fashion that American brawn fares no
better than European sophistication against the tzero' s combination of
light weight, high-current lead-acid batteries, and electric propulsion.
More races were run.
Different drivers wheeled the tzero. The result stayed the same. A Miata
driver, unfamiliar with high power levels, got into the tzero and
immediately blew away the Ferrari. She wants a tzero now. The Ferrari owner
took a turn and was astounded by the continuous surge of smooth power. A
newspaper reporter who arrived in an Escort allowed himself to be talked
into driving the tzero and he beat the Ferrari. An investor from Sweden,
after one victorious run in the tzero decided make a second run when
challenged by his friend and investing partner who was proudly driving a
brand new Porsche Carrera Cabriolet. By now everyone was surprised when the
tzero lagged behind. Was the tzero battery dead? Was it collusion between
two friends? Neither actually. The tzero inadvertently ran the whole race
with its hand brake on, and the Porsche won by seven car lengths.
Sunday, more races were scheduled on the 6500-foot runway at Calstart' s
Alameda facility. The day was as rainy as Saturday had been sunny. The
rained poured down as a few hardy individuals gathered. Finally a single
challenger arrived in an all-wheel drive Porsche Carrera 4. The rain never
let up, but there was a track, there were cars, and there was a video crew,
so there was a race. Amid much anticipation that the Porsche' s
sophisticated all-wheel drive system would provide a winning edge in the
adverse conditions, the tzero shrugged off its Porsche jinx from the day
before and drove right away from the Teutonic technology marvel. As before,
different runs and different drivers confirmed the results. After driving
both cars, the Porsche owner agreed that the tzero felt more stable through
the running water even as it accelerated more rapidly. The Porsche owner' s
wife took a turn in the tzero after standing in the rain watching her
husband in run after run. In an important development for domestic
tranquility she emerged from the tzero smiling.
Article courtsey of:
AC Propulsion.com and EV World.com