Electric car FIA land-speed record attempt to be powered by ABB motors, drive

Come May 5, 2005, a new official land-speed record may be in the books for electric cars.

By Control Engineering Staff April 28, 2005
e=motion vehicle packs 52 lead-acid batteries in its slender body that’s just 2-ft high to supply 600 V dc input to an ACS800 drive.

Come May 5, 2005, a new official land-speed record may be in the books for electric cars. In exactly one week, a slender 32-ft-long vehicle, dubbed “ ABB e=motion ,” intends to erase the existing official FIA (Federation Internationale d’Automobile) electric land-speed record of 245 mph (394 kmph) in northeastern Nevada—and moreover break the official 300-mph (483 kmph) mark for an electrically powered vehicle. Global engineering company ABB is the main sponsor of the e=motion car.

e=motion vehicle applies existing electric technology to obtain acceleration directly without the use of mechanical gears. An ABB standard regenerative 480-hp ACS800 adjustable-speed drive controls the vehicle’s two 50-hp induction motors, also from ABB. Power comes from four packs of 52 lead-acid 12 V car batteries whose 600 V dc output is converted to ac power by ACS800 drive. The two motors, driving the car’s rear wheels, produce an output of more than 500 bhp (brake horsepower, which is power measured at a vehicle’s crankshaft). By comparison, the 2005 Chevrolet Corvette’s gasoline-fueled 427-cubic inch V8 engine produces just 500 bhp.

Fast acceleration will be key to the record attempt. ABB’s Direct Torque Control (DTC) technology incorporated in the motor/drive system will play a prominent role here. DTC provides total control of motor torque, with full motor torque available even at zero speed, says the company. Control of motor heating also will be vital in this special application. To prevent overheating, each motor is fitted with a forced-ventilation system made up of a series of 24-V dc fans, which hold maximum operating temperature to 180

The current FIA electric car speed record is held by the White Lightning team from the U.S. Other record attempts have been made, but not under FIA rules. (Actually, the “Buckeye Bullet,” an electric vehicle designed and built by a student team from Ohio State University topped out at 314 mph in October 2004 at a non-FIA sanctioned event.)

ABB e=motion team remains confident of success in Nevada on May 5. The company sees the event going beyond records setting to promote “wider adoption of electric cars.”

Look for more coverage of this event shortly after the record attempt.

—Frank J. Bartos, executive editor, Control Engineering, fbartos@reedbusiness.com