It’s not often you hear about an attempt on a speed record these days but students from ETH Zurich and Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts still feel the need for speed. They recently broke the world record for acceleration with their hand-built electric racing car, Mythen, which accelerated from 0 to 100km/h (62.15mph) in 0.956 seconds over a distance of 12.3m, breaking the previous record held by a team from the University of Stuttgart by a substantial 1.461 seconds.
For the better part of a year, the students spent every spare minute working on their electric vehicle, overcoming setbacks and going back to the drawing board time and time again for certain components. Now Guinness World Records has confirmed that Mythen broke the previous world acceleration record for electric vehicles. In the Switzerland Innovation Park in Duebendorf, Switzerland, directly opposite the students’ workshop, their racing car achieved the new world record with driver Kate Maggetti behind the wheel.
“Working on the project in addition to my studies was very intense,” said Yann Bernard, head of motor at the Academic Motorsports Club Zurich (AMZ). “But even so, it was a lot of fun working with other students to continually produce new solutions and put into practice what we learned in class. And, of course, it is an absolutely unique experience to be involved in a world record.”
All of Mythen’s components, from the printed circuit boards to the chassis and the battery, were developed by the students themselves and optimized for their function. Thanks to the use of lightweight carbon and aluminum honeycomb, the race car weighs in at only around 140kg (309 lb). Four-wheel hub motors that the students developed themselves and a special powertrain give the vehicle its power of 240kW, around 326hp.
“But power isn’t the only thing that matters when it comes to setting an acceleration record – effectively transferring that power to the ground is also key,” said Dario Messerli, head of aerodynamics at AMZ.
Conventional Formula 1 cars solve this through aerodynamics with a rear or front wing pushing the car to the ground. However, this effect only comes into play when the car has reached a certain speed. To ensure strong traction right from the start, the AMZ team developed a kind of vacuum cleaner that holds the vehicle down to the ground by suction.
It is the third time a team from AMZ has set a world acceleration record for electric cars. They did it in 2014 and 2016, before other teams beat their record. Now the students say they are confident they won’t be relinquishing it any time soon.