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The day was December 4, 2004 at Fuji Speedway...
A smooth silhouette drives along with ramming speed, but with no engine to be heard- only the sound of wind being sliced. The car is pure electric, running only by battery and motor. The top speed produced this day was 276.6km/h, establishing a new Japan Top Speed Record, exceeding the prior one by 66.5km/h.
The ZERO EV Formula at Fuji Speedway. The course has a
slight upward incline. Mr. Masashi Kobayashi, the Manager of
the Zero-Sports Engineering Department, took charge of the driving task.
The previous Domestic Top Speed Record for electric cars was
210km/h (AC Motor). The new record set by the ZERO EV
Formula surpassed that by 66.5km/h, but still has leeway in
it’s RPMs. Since the achievement, the company have received
many requests by Pro Drivers to test drive the car.
The ZERO EV Formula with its body panels off.
They say that the secret to achieving the fastest speed
based on locally sold parts lies in the utilization of
design/trial manufacturing technology accumulated through managing and tuning race cars.
How 276.6km/h was born
When we think of electric cars, we think of them as being slow. The recent Japan Record setter for electric cars, the ZERO EV Formula, was made to change your mind. The Silver body, made of FRP (fiber-glass re-enforced plastic), outlines smooth curves inspiring a futuristic dream straight out of the world of anime and model cars. The space occupancy of the motor is less than half, even when compared with a compact car. No radiator, no oil-pump, and no oil pan mean more freedom with design. Zero-Sports are known for the manufacturing of Subaru aftermarket tuning parts. Why did such a manufacturer end up challenging the speed record for electric cars? "We aftermarket manufacturers perform as material makers dangling under the auto manufacturers. Any big changes in the auto market leave us wounded. We felt we should take a shot from the other side. The challenge of our electric cars started about five years ago. Being a small manufacturer with limited work force, material, and monetary resources, we were having a hard time with the development of the car. The situation changed in the Spring of '99, when we were able to get an engineer perfect for leading such a project.” - President Nakajima
Hideo Seko, the Chief Editor of Developmental-Design and Production: "For 20 years, I worked for an auto parts manufacturer- 10 years in research on ceramics as part of engine components and another 10 years of research on electric automobiles such as fuel cells, electrodes, etc. Then, I found out that Zero-Sports was gathering some ideas toward the production of an electric car, so I took a chance and knocked on their door.”
Aiming at the creation of a new Auto-culture
Fall of '99 was the start of the in-depth development of the ZERO EV Formula. After spotlighting the exterior at Tokyo Auto Salon 2000, it was only a year later that Zero-Sports achieved the record run. Incredibly, the project was developed only during spare time from regular tasks as a parts manufacturer. If one of the major auto manufacturers were to challenge the Zero-Sports record, they would probably spend more time and massive amounts of investment into project development and start from scratch with specially designed parts. Most of the parts making up the ZERO EV Formula are readily available commercial parts. The motor is a regular American made motor. The battery, though superior in anti-shock resistance, is a battery often used in ships and aircrafts. Using readily available parts helped shorten the development period, but it still required a lot of work.
"People say it must have cost us a fortune. We didn’t have the huge capital to pour millions into the project. We lowered our cost tremendously by using available parts and a little creativity; thus, we are able to produce cost effective, yet fast, electric automobiles. For example, using an AC motor is the common way to go in this field, if aiming for an electric car speed record. We used a DC motor, which has high energy loss in the motor and that energy is released as high heat. However, it is compact and light, and inexpensive. The ZERO EV Formula uses two of these bad boys.” -Hideo Seko
The Dash Pot for adjusting the accelerator opening,
placed at the front-end of the body. Due to the usage
of the pre-existing frame, the stress upon the wheel's
surroundings was one of the tougher problems during
Two Commercially sold general purpose motors loaded.
Here, two of them are lined up vertically and connected
by a belt. Since two motors output high volumes of heat,
the cooling system needed some creativeness.
12 Batteries were placed on each side- right and left,
totaling a load of 24 batteries. The Current has a
max of 1200amps, with voltage totaling over 300V.
Using common lead batteries,
the total body-weight reaches a ton.
"The Chassis is from a race car called FJ1600, which a tuning shop named Manatee worked on about 30 years ago. We figured even though it may be old, why not use a car which once had blood flowing? Looking back at it now, it just gave us one more obstacle to overcome." -President Nakajima ZERO EV Formula Main Specifications
The wheels originally worn by the FJ were Radial Tires. Since the ZERO EV Formula uses Slick Tires, which grip the road better and is more for high speed driving, the twisting power from the car all ends up going to the chassis. "After starting the test drives, the continuous reinforcement after reinforcements gave us more burdens and began affecting the body-weight as well. Making race cars is always a grope. It's just a daily thing for us. I think that in the end, our company's unique design balance won it for us." –Hideo Seko
Zero-Sports record run only put out up to 3600rpms, but the motor is capable of 6500rpm. The World Record for an electric car is GM's 293.3km/h. Zero-Sport’s car has the potential to beat that record with ease. “Of course we'd like to challenge the World's top speed, but more than that, we were able to achieve an awesome looking and reasonably priced car. This is precisely what we were aiming for with the ZERO EV Formula.” -President Nakajima
Currently, Zero-Sports are in the development process of modifying a Subaru into an electric car to be released within the year. By utilizing their experience with the ZERO EV Formula, they are going to go for an electric car that will penetrate mainstream society. “One more objective is the continuous running distance, but that can be solved easily once a high-quality battery comes out. I'm more and more excited about the near-future." –Hideo Seko
|Power Source||DC Motor (XP-1227A) x2|
|Batteries||Dry Batteries x24|
|Tires||Front: 215/45-17 |
|Brakes||16in. Bench-rated Disc |
|Chassis/Suspension||modified FJ1600 for EV use|
|Body||FRP one-piece structure|
Data of moment of highest velocity and new Japan Record establishment
|Date/Time||December 4, 2000, (Mon)|
|Location||Fuji Speedway (Shizuoka Prefecture)|
|Temperature||20 degrees Celsius|
|Record Method*||"Top Speed Method" (Fiber Optic Tube system)|
|Recording Tools||Tagheuer (by Tagheuer)|
|Recording Tries||3 times|
|Record Results||First: 266.6km/h|
|Top Speed Record||276.6km/h|
Published on Friday, 23 June 2006 00:00