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Electric Vs. Petrol

Mention electric kart racing in the UK to the petrol heads and you will hear all the usual complaints and comments such as

“Its not racing without the smell or the noise”,

“Ahh, but they don’t go as fast as a petrol kart do they?”

“The batteries don’t last long enough to have a decent race”

“They must be so heavy to drive with all those batteries on board!”

Well, petrol heads, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!!

The real facts are that Electric karts have been racing competitively and successfully in Europe for years. The races are governed by FIA rules, there are official scrutineers at all races and there is even money to be won if you’re a good enough driver.

Electric kart racing takes place in Austria, Switzerland, France and Italy. Entrants are of all nationalities and the events tend to be friendly but still with the competitive edge that you would expect to find in any type of motor sport. The Italians have the most entrants and at present are the European Champions, but this year saw the first appearance of a team from Hungary, plus the usual team entries from Switzerland, Austria and the solitary Gravitron team from the UK.

The final race of the season, the EVN Cup, is held in Austria in August near the beautiful city of Vienna. It is the culmination of the biggest Electric racing calendar in Europe. This year there were 28 entries in the 0 – 180 Kg electric kart class. The event is held over a three day period and is mixed with racing of other electric and alternative fuel vehicles, motorbikes, road cars etc. Free practice and set up is on the Friday, with timed practice and qualifying on Saturday and a morning and afternoon race on Sunday. This year the karts raced on their own 800 metre circuit. Each race required the completion of 13 laps, a total of 10.4 km per race. The overall winner of the event being the kart driver with the most accumulated points over the two races. This event is sponsored by the EVN, an electricity supply company in Austria. It is always well attended and has good local, national and international TV and media coverage. The atmosphere is one of healthy competition but with teams helping each other out if needed. The organisers lay on food, drinks and entertainment both during the day and throughout the evenings.

The Gravitron European style Electric Race Kart – The G60 - has been designed with passion to give a thrilling and exhilarating experience to its drivers. It is built on a fully homologated and FIA approved chassis complete with front disc brakes. The G60 Race kart is powered by an LAAA4002 37 Kw DC electric motor and a HE DATA 1000/24-60 1000 amp controller, producing 50 horse power to the rear wheels of a vehicle weighing in at just 153 Kg. With acceleration that leaves you breathless, this kart will rocket from 0 – 60 mph in less than 4 seconds and will attain speeds in excess of 100 mph. Not to be tried by the faint hearted!! The kart carries four 12 volt sealed, lead acid batteries that are safely and securely fixed beneath the side pods of the kart. The motor weighs 20 Kg and is fixed centrally behind the driver, the 4 Kg controller sits beneath the steering column where the petrol tank would be on a petrol powered kart. The batteries, motor and controller have all been positioned in such a way that the kart feels easy to drive, with responsive handling.

The fully microprocessor controlled HE DATA 1000/24-60 unit uses the latest silicon technology and has a unique built-in programming and data logging facility. Any electric vehicle fitted with this DC controller can now have criteria such as top speed, acceleration, creep speed, forward/reverse and regen braking programmed in using a hand held plug in unit, the DPL (Data Programmer/Logger). This same DPL unit can also be used to gather information from the electric vehicle whilst it is being driven.

This information can then be downloaded to a PC and viewed instantly in a windows based software. The information will allow electric vehicle users to analyse the performance of their vehicle and make adjustment to those areas that affect efficiency, power outputs etc.

Gravitron’s motor and controller technology is not only for use on karts but can also be used in many applications: Electric cars, boats and motor cycles, materials handling vehicles, airport transportation, golf karts and buggies. The company are currently planning the production of a two seater hybrid diesel/electric vehicle that can be used solely as an electric vehicle within the towns and cities, used as an electric assisted vehicle when hill ratios are steep and demanding or used solely as a diesel powered vehicle for long distance use. This type of small vehicle will deliver approx 90mpg when used as a diesel only and a staggering 150 mph when used as an electric assisted vehicle. With fuel prices and green issues currently topping the political bill, electric vehicles (Evs) and alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) are starting to come out of the realms of the eccentric and are blooming into the practical transport of the present day.

To promote Evs and heighten public awareness Gravitron have been testing their Electric Speed Hog:

The “Hog”, as it has been affectionately nicknamed by the team, has been put through its paces in recent months on the runway at Kemble Airfield, near Cirencester, Gloucestershire. The Gravitron team has the British Electric Speed Record in its sights. Hog has already achieved speeds to enable it to take the British Speed record for a vehicle in its class but want to break the overall British Record of 128 mph averaged over a measured kilometre.

Hog has been built on a standard Gravitron G60 race kart. It runs a 60 volt system with 15 x 12 volt batteries and weighs in at 275 kg. It is powered by two LAAA4002 37 Kw electric motors connected in parallel and two HE DATA 1000/24-60 1000 amp controllers. With a gear ratio of 1:1.3 and 60 Kw of power (equivalent to 80 horse power) the Hog will out accelerate most, if not all, supercars, producing acceleration of 0—60 mph in less than 4 seconds. In tests the Gravitron Speed Hog has nudged 130 mph and will be doing an official record attempt in the new year. This attempt will be held at Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground in Leicester, where there is a 4.2 mile circuit and a 2 mile straight, enabling the Hog to get up to speed and take the record across a measured kilometre.

The British Speed Record is only the first leg of Gravitron’s record breaking plans. The dedicated team of engineers and designers has its eye on two further records: the World Electric Speed Record, currently set at 218 mph and the World Speed Record for a wheel driven vehicle, currently set at 420 mph. In order to attempt these records Gravitron will be designing and building a completely new vehicle with a needle like, aerodynamic shape.

Having fully funded the project to date, Gravitron are now raising sponsorship to take these record attempts further. After taking the British Electric Speed Record any future record attempts will be taken on the famous Salt Flats in America, the home of Speed Records and of course where SS Thrust broke the sound barrier, using jet power.

The very first Land Speed Record was established in an electric vehicle way back in 1899. Gravitron firmly believe that electric power is capable of breaking records again in the year 2001 and are dedicated to the promotion of electric and battery power as an alternative fuel source for vehicles.