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Hybrid Horsepower: Hybrid/EV Racing Technology

The racing industry has always been a testing ground for new and advanced technology.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 08:36

Electric motors have a distinct advantage in racing. They make all their power instantly or with the push of a button. Hybrid and electric vehicle (EV) power sources are used in drag racing, Formula 1, and other popular motorsports. Let’s take a look at the technology involved and compare it to that offered by OEMs to consumers.


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DC Motors have brushes that wear out

There is a relatively new technology that is gaining widespread acceptance in Formula 1 and GT racing called the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS). Indy car racing is considering using the KERS technology in a “Push-to-Pass” system. Although hybrid and EV technology constantly is evolving in racing and in production vehicles, there are some common systems that are used. Each system has its advantages and disadvantages.

Energy Storage Devices
Let’s start by looking at different batteries and systems found in today’s vehicles used in Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems.

First there are Electro-Chemical Batteries. Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) batteries are the most

CD Motor field coils are wire wound and can carry large amounts of current

commonly used battery in KERS systems, in drag racing, as well as new EVs, hybrid-electric vehicles (HEV) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV).

Li-Ion Battery systems have a high power density kW (ability to absorb or provide a large amount of energy), and have a very high energy density kWh (can accept or supply energy for a very long time duration). Lithium-ion batteries are used as storage devices for some KERS systems because of their lightweight as compared to ultra-capacitors.

There are several chemical variations of lithium-ion batteries used in today’s racecars as well as consumer vehicles as the technology keeps improving.  Ford, General Motors, Honda, Nissan, Tesla, Toyota and Hyundai all use Lithium-ion technology in their latest HEVs, PHEVs and EVs.

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