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EVs in race to fill car-makers’ gap

Fast money: Electric car evangelist Simon Hackett (left) and eV Racing Systems founder Rudi Tuisk plan to build a racecar capable of accelerating almost as fast as a McLaren P1 supercar.

Multimillion-dollar bid aims to establish Australia as an electric racecar hub

Tesla logo17 Mar 2014

AUSTRALIAN dotcom pioneer Simon Hackett has announced plans to design, build and race electric vehicles, opening up opportunities for local component suppliers still reeling from the decision of Toyota, Ford and Holden to exit manufacturing here over the next two to three years.

Mr Hackett, who founded the South Australian-based internet service provider Internode and brought the first Tesla battery-powered vehicle here, the Roadster, in 2009, has paired with the former director of Tesla Motors’ Australian sales division, Rudi Tuisk, to build and sell the cars into China and Europe.

The pair plans to source components from Australia and Asia to make a sub-1000kg battery-powered racecar with about 400kW of power and 800Nm of torque, which can hit 200km/h in less than eight seconds – almost as fast as a McLaren P1 supercar.

By comparison, a 1940kg Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG uses a twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8 to produce 430kW and 800Nm, hitting the 200km/h mark from rest in about 14 seconds.

The venture, eV Racing Systems, plans to have its first car on the road by the end of this year. While Mr Tuisk will provide the engineering and design expertise, Mr Hackett will provide much-needed funding to get the electric racecar start-up rolling.

The company has set its goal as the “development and delivery of a purpose-designed electric racecar with the power and performance to demonstrate the ability of EVs to perform at the highest level of global motorsport”.

According to a statement released today announcing the joint venture, Mr Hackett has supplied the company with a “seven-figure” funding boost to help it get off the ground.

Mr Hackett said Australia could one day play a key role in designing and engineering high-performance electric vehicles.

“Electric vehicles represent a sunrise industry in which Australia can be a real leader,” he said.

“Australia has convenient proximity to Asia for cell supply and access to innovative and exceptionally talented engineers.

“As we’re saying goodbye to Toyota, Ford and Holden assembly plants, Australia has the opportunity to embrace and invest in EV technology that can underpin new local manufacturing in coming decades.”

Mr Tuisk said eV Race Systems aimed to deliver a “rule-breaking racecar”.

“At Tesla, we pushed the boundaries of EV technology in many environments and race circuits,” he said.

“At eV Race Systems, we’re out to develop and deliver the most exciting racecar to drive and the most exciting racecar to watch.

“To use motorsport as an emotional lever you need a car that’s very fast, convincing and extremely exciting – action packed.

“We’ve spent the past year designing just such a vehicle with some of the best engineers in the world. We are very excited by the data we are seeing right now.”

The company said it planned to develop “three to five prototype cars” that would take part in demonstration events later this year.

In 2009, Mr Hackett was the first Australian to buy a Tesla electric vehicle, spending more than $200,000 to bring the Lotus-based two-seat Roadster here.

He used the vehicle to set a world distance record for a production electric vehicle, travelling 501 kilometres on a single charge during the Global Green Challenge, an economy drive stretching from Darwin to Adelaide.

Mr Hackett will take delivery of the latest-generation Tesla, the seven-seat hatchback Model S, in about July.

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