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The World’s Fastest Electric Car Shoots for 400 MPH

Venturi and Ohio State's VBB3 at the Bonneville Salt Flats.Venturi and Ohio State's VBB3 at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Venturi and Ohio State's VBB3 at the Bonneville Salt Flats.Venturi, via Wikimedia Creative Commons

In the latest chapter in the continuing advance of electric vehicle technology, Ars Technica reported last week on Monaco-based carmaker Venturi’s efforts to build the world’s fastest electric car.

The car, the Venturi Buckeye Bullet 3, is a collaboration between Venturi’s team of Formula E electric racing engineers, and the Ohio State University’s Center for Automotive Research (CAR). A previous model set the current electric land speed record, 307 mph, in 2010, but the current model’s top speed is estimated at 372 mph. The project’s goal is to eventually build an electric vehicle that can hit 400 mph.

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That would still be far short of the current land speed record of 763.035 miles per hour, set by a jet-powered vehicle—and no electric vehicle is likely to reach those speeds for the foreseeable future. While electrics have huge advantages for everyday driving, from better acceleration to a smoother ride to greater overall energy efficiency, current batteries can’t touch fossil fuels for providing the amount of energy needed to hit top speeds.

But high-speed electrics do have some of their own advantages. Like any electric car, the VBB-3 generates much less heat than an equivalently powerful gas-burning engine, so it doesn’t need cooling vents or intakes, which add drag to gas-burning cars. Though that doesn’t mean the VBB-3 is cool, exactly—its internal systems include lots of oil circulation and a box stuffed full of ice before each run.

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Last year, the Venturi team couldn’t test the VBB3, due to degradation of the Bonneville Salt Flats—a phenomenon that may be caused by mining or climate change. They’re hoping better conditions this summer let them continue their quest for speed.