Staged on the Colorado mountain of the same name, the Pikes Peak Hill Climb features a 12.42-mile course with 156 turns that climbs 4,270 feet from the starting line to the finish line. The thin air at Pikes Peak’s high altitude gives electric cars an advantage since, like people, internal-combustion engines do not do very well when deprived of oxygen. Besides the FF 91, recent all-electric entries have included purpose-built race cars, a modified Acura NSX, and a Tesla Model S, among others.
Driven by Faraday engineer Robin Shute, the FF 91 ran in Pikes Peak’s Exhibition Class. It covered the course in 11:25.083, beating the previous record for a production-based electric car by more than 20 seconds, according to Faraday. “Production-based” is key here because the FF 91 isn’t actually on sale yet. Hopefully the eventual production model will feel as fast as the racer looks in the above video, which was posted to the Pikes Peak YouTube channel.
Faraday used a “beta” development vehicle that was largely representative of the eventual production model, albeit with some Pikes Peak-specific hardware and software tweaks. Faraday viewed Pikes Peak as a testing opportunity, with Shute saying that engineers identified “key battery pack relay and system seal issues” that will improve the production process. But the automaker will also get more public exposure from the high-profile race. Pikes Peak is not Faraday’s first motor-sport foray, it also backs a team in Formula E.
“The hill climb at Pikes Peak serves as the ideal setting to further develop the electric propulsion system and supporting thermal systems of FF 91,” Faraday research and development boss Nick Sampson said in a statement ahead of the race. Seeing how components perform under the stresses of racing was a major reason for going to Pikes Peak, Farady engineers explained in a video (see below) produced by the automaker. “Testing the performance of FF 91 in real-world conditions sets the bar even higher as we bring the vehicle to market in 2018,” Sampson said.
Sampson’s confirmation of a 2018 launch date aligns with previous statements from Faraday, but it seems like an optimistic goal. The company has halted work on its North Las Vegas, Nevada, factory indefinitely, and has not announced concrete plans for a new factory. Between building a factory, completing development work on the FF 91, and tooling up for production, Faraday has a lot to finish in a very short amount of time.
Faraday has also had to contend with instability at its main backer, Chinese tech firm LeEco. The company is laying off most of its U.S. workforce, and billionaire founder Jia Yueting said in November that it was running out of cash. Faraday has said it is unaffected by the LeEco cuts, although it is now looking for additional sources of funding.
Updated: Added second video and updated information on Faraday’s Nevada factory.
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