Matthew BeedhamEditor, SHIFT by TNW
Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls. Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls.
Ken Block and exuberant driving go together like coffee and cream, cheese and wine, or Jack and coke.
Usually his flamboyant gymkhana runs feature the soundtrack from a crazy powerful combustion engine that sings a roaring overture as he threads his way round a racetrack with pinpoint precision. Times are changing, and the days of exhaust noise are numbered.
Motorsports are capitalizing on the rising interest in electric vehicles, and are moving to electrify their race series. Meaning drivers like Block have to get their head around these new types of vehicle, and we’ll hear totally new sounds during races.
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In a video posted to his YouTube channel last week, Block went to Sweden to put an all-electric Ford Fiesta ERX, built by Austrian automotive R&D firm Stard, through its paces.
Block’s four-word review: “a whole new experience.” Check it out below.
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The Fiesta ERX has been developed to compete in the electric only World Rallycross series, Projekt E. As you’d expect, the car is a beast. It has three electric motors that collectively put out 600 hp and 800 lb-ft of torque, making it capable of throwing itself from a standstill to 60 mph in under two seconds.
The batteries get so hot during its use that it needs to be cooled using dry ice.
For drivers that pride themselves on having ultimate control of their vehicles, it’s a new and unique challenge racing an electric vehicle. There is no gearbox, clutch pedal, or shifter to control the car’s speed, so the machines take a bit of getting used to.
Drivers also have to get used to the fact that EV race cars are a bit heavier than their combustion engine counterparts. This is mostly down to the batteries. The upside, though, is that cars can achieve an ideal 50/50 front and rear weight distribution.
“It feels more planted and more solid, but it feels heavier. Under braking I have to brake a little earlier, and when I do I feel that inertia. That’s taken a bit of adjustment,” Block says in the video.
For spectators, though, the weirdest thing is to watch a race car chew through its own tires in a cloud of smoke, smash over jumps, and scream as it drifts around bends with no engine noise.
Of course, we went through this when Formula E became a thing, but somehow in Rallycross being able to hear parts of the vehicle working because there’s no engine noise covering it up keeps the sport as visceral as ever for onlookers.
But does it Hoon? Yes, yes it bloody does.
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