It's Time for Car Enthusiasts to Start Electrifying Their Knowledge
Actually, if you haven't already—you're running late.
I suspect for many of you (save the electricians out there), your knowledge of electricity is about as basic as mine. I understand concepts such as the greater a light bulb's wattage, the brighter the light will be—or at least, that's what it used to mean. Or if you overload a circuit on your home electrical box, the fuse associated with it will blow. And that AC/DC is one of the greatest rock bands of all time.
It's been an education for all of us to get up to speed with the nuances of pure electrified propulsion: how power is measured, generated, stored, and expended. We can no longer judge electric vehicles simply by range alone. There are other important variables to consider, and with many viable offerings already available or coming soon, we're well past the novelty stage now.
I can hear what some of you are almost certainly thinking: "I'm an enthusiast, and I don't give a damn about these newfangled, glorified golf carts." It's an easy, understandable position to take—and I would be lying if I said our staff has not had more than a few debates, arguments, and sky-is-falling moments about that very thing. But if there's a silver lining or two to the snowballing EV revolution, it's the fact that we don't expect traditional powertrains to vanish overnight—and already the auto industry is delivering EVs that are more than just bland appliances. To the point, in this issue we spend quality time with three wildly different, wildly intriguing, all-electric-powered cars.
For starters, let's take a closer look at a couple of details about the $1.25 million a pop Drako GTE super-hyper-exotic EV. It has four electric motors, one at each wheel, rated at 225 kilowatts each. Once you know the basic kilowatts-to-horsepower conversion (1 kW = 1.34 horsepower), you'll find that each motor generates roughly 300 horsepower, which equals roughly 1,200 horses all in. Math so simple, even I can calculate it! It's also important to understand that an EV's peak power, like its torque, is essentially available from 0 rpm, which helps create that surging feeling you've heard about when you stomp on an EV's go pedal. When you do, electricity is transferred full-on to each motor as opposed to a traditional gas engine, which needs to burn a fuel/air mixture at an optimum rpm in order to reach its peak power.
Supplying all that juice is the battery pack, which normally lines the floor of a vehicle in various arrangements. The bigger the battery, the more power it can store—think of it like a gas tank full of electricity. But that doesn't always translate into optimum range. Take the Drako's battery, a 90-kWh, 2,000-pound monster consisting of 10,000 packaged cells that delivers an estimated 250 miles to a charge, which is good but far from a hypermiling special. This is a car built for max power as opposed to max range, and with more than 2.5 tons to move all in, the battery pack had to be big.
At the other end of the spectrum are vehicles the rest of us in the real world could think about owning, like, say, the Volkswagen ID Buggy concept. (We've also finally driven a couple versions of Porsche's new Taycan.) Unlike the more exotic Drako, the Buggy is underpinned by VW's MEB platform, which will form the basis of a host of mass-produced Volkswagen EVs in the coming years. Its estimated power and range numbers are pedestrian at 201 hp and 130 or so miles to a charge from its 62-kWh battery pack, delivering the electrons to a single rear-mounted motor. But it looks as though it would be an absolute hoot out at the dunes and is exactly the type of car VW needs to bring to market if it wants to reclaim its rep as a purveyor of fun and funky offerings.
The flexibility of Volkswagen's MEB components set and the packaging of EVs in general, which require far fewer parts to operate, has freed up folks like VW's chief designer Klaus Bischoff to develop vehicles like the Buggy. He told me at the Buggy's reveal this year it would have been next to impossible to execute something along its lines by employing a traditional powertrain approach.
So the next time you're bench-racing with your pals and the subject of electric vehicles lights up the room, now you can give them the full scoop on a couple of fast and fun EVs not badged Tesla and drop a little knowledge on them about how they work while you're at it—preferably with AC/DC playing in the background. We're here to help.