The ability of a car to get from rest to 60 mph has long been one of the most popular performance benchmarks, establishing hierarchies between rivals and—more important—giving owners something to boast about. But while the quickest road cars are now in the low-two-second range (the fastest we have experienced being the two seconds flat of the Ferrari SF90 Stradale), a group of students in Switzerland have just posted a sub-one-second time in a purpose-built lightweight EV, claiming a new record in the process.
A team of members of the Academic Motorsports Club of Zurich (AMZ) from two universities, ETH Zurich and the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, created a tiny EV specifically designed to beat the benchmark. Pride was at stake; AMZ has set the record twice in the past, but last September it was bested by another student team from Stuttgart, Germany, which managed a time of just 1.461 seconds and therefore took the title.
A Purpose-Built 309-Pound Car
The new car, named Mythen, was purpose built for the record and uses four hub-mounted electric motors to produce a combined total of 322 horsepower. Which might not sound like much, but thanks to a carbon-fiber and aluminum honeycomb structure, the car itself weighed in at just 309 pounds. Even with driver Kate Maggetti on board, it weighed just 396 pounds. Traction was helped by both a rear wing and what the team describes as a "kind of vacuum cleaner that holds the car to the ground by suction," something which sounds like the fan-assisted system used by the McMurty Spéirling that set a course record at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2022.
On a test track in Duebendort, Switzerland, Mythen accelerated from zero to 62 mph, which represents the Euro-friendly 100-km/h mark, in just 0.956 second, reaching that speed in just over 40 feet. By our reckoning, that means Maggetti experienced an average of 2.96 g's of longitudinal acceleration over the course of the run, but the peak would doubtless have been higher. Those figures are similar to those experienced by a fighter pilot being launched from an aircraft carrier's steam catapult.
The new time has officially been recognized by self-appointed arbiter of such things, Guinness World Records. But although a hugely impressive achievement, and likely an outright benchmark for an electric-powered vehicle, the new record is not close to the outright fastest acceleration of any wheel-powered vehicle. A Top Fuel dragster will hit 60 mph around 0.4-second after launch.
Having taken the record for the third time, the Swiss team are confident of holding onto it, saying, "Now the world record is back in Swiss hands, and the ETH Zurich students are confident they will not relinquish it again anytime soon."
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