June 24, 2013
Pikes Peak International Hill Climb
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb competition is a time trial event for automobiles and motorcycles held annually at Colorado Springs, Colorado around Independence Day weekend that attracts over 150 competitors every year.
The very first event was held in 1916 and it is the second oldest motorsports event in the United States following the famed Indianapolis 500.
Pikes Peak is located in the Rocky Mountains just 16 miles west of Colorado Springs. The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is a unique time trial competition commencing at an elevation of 9,390 feet, with the race course winding its way around the mountain, all the way up to the finish line located at a sky-high 14,110 foot elevation mark.
The course length of 12.42 miles consists of 156 corners, and with an average climb gradient of 7 percent, it imposes extraordinarily challenging driving conditions upon the driver while navigating up the mountain.
Additionally, due to the great elevation change from the start line to the finish line (a climb of 4,720 feet), dealing with temperature, air pressure, weather and other atmospheric conditions adds to the unique challenges of this intense competition.
2013 Pikes Peak: The Challenge
With its highly successful history winning multiple championships in the extremely difficult World Rally Championship (WRC) and Dakar Rally, Mitsubishi Motors believes strongly that motorsports is the ultimate proving ground for vehicles. With the company being the first auto manufacturer to successfully mass-produce and market a 100 percent electric-powered vehicle - the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and its derivatives have already sold over 30,000 units throughout Japan, Europe (even chilly Scandinavia) and Asia - the Japanese auto manufacturer would like to continue developing and advancing EV technology so that it remains the leader in this new form of high-tech, eco-friendly transportation.
The inaugural two-car campaign in last year's Pikes Peak International Hill Climb was a resounding success that saw Hiroshi Masuoka pilot the advanced i-MiEV Evolution racing prototype to second place and Beccy Gordon, in her essentially stock version of the 100 percent electric 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV, finish in sixth place in the Electric Vehicle (EV) class. For the 2013 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Mitsubishi Motors will enter a pair of all-new MiEV Evolution II racing prototypes. Two-time Dakar Rally overall champion Hiroshi Masuoka returns for the 2013 Pikes Peak effort, partnered this year with six-time Pikes Peak overall motorcycle champion and 2002 SCORE international off-road series champion, Greg Tracy.
Both vehicles will be powered by Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle (MiEV) technology, with this dynamic duo's goal being the ultimate prize - setting a record time in the all-new MiEV Evolution II.
A completely new design from the ground up, the MiEV Evolution II features a unique four-motor drivetrain (two front/two rear) based on a modified high-output version of the production Mitsubishi i-MiEV street-legal electric vehicle motor, a tube-frame chassis, a redesigned version of Mitsubishi Motors' highly-advanced proprietary Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) all-wheel drive technology, new clean-sheet aerodynamically-enhanced carbon-fiber bodywork and state-of-the-art high-capacity lithium-ion batteries by Lithium Energy Japan (LEJ).
Mitsubishi Motors' main goal will be to use the data obtained through the participation in this grueling hill climb event to enhance the durability and reliability of its advanced 100 percent electric vehicles (EV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and conventional gas- or diesel-powered hybrid vehicles in the company's future vehicle development.
Last year's Pikes Peak effort yielded a cornucopia of vitally important data to the benefit of not only the all-new MiEV Evolution II racing prototype but for production cars like the i-MiEV and the upcoming Outlander plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV).
For example, feedback and data derived from last year's i-MiEV Evolution racing prototype and its outstanding all-wheel drive system is being used to develop the unique twin electric motor-based Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) system found on the Outlander PHEV - the first of its kind on a production crossover vehicle - when it arrives in Mitsubishi Motors dealerships in the US slated for 2014.
The Mitsubishi Motors EV racing team will compete with a pair of highly advanced state-of-the-art 100 percent electric-powered vehicles in the 2013 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb event to not only increase the awareness and visibility of the EV but also to demonstrate the high level of technology engineered into each Mitsubishi Motors electric vehicle and its EV-related components and systems.
Furthermore, engineers from the development division of Mitsubishi Motors will be sent to the 2013 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb to promote closer ties and the sharing of technology and know-how for the purpose of further boosting the company's already class-leading electric vehicle (EV) development capabilities.
Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) will utilize the data and technical know-how garnered through its participation in the event in its @earth TECHNOLOGY*1 next-generation advanced technology R&D program for eventual use in future production vehicles.
Mitsubishi MiEV Evolution II
Based upon the in-depth knowledge and excellent second-place finish achieved in last year's inaugural outing at Pikes Peak with the innovative Mitsubishi i-MiEV Evolution all-electric racing prototype, this year's Mitsubishi MiEV Evolution II is an entirely all-new design that takes Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle (MiEV) technology to a whole new level.
The all-new MiEV Evolution II is a purpose-built prototype racing machine designed specifically to compete in the 2013 running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb event.
In addition to its lightweight yet sturdy tube-frame chassis and its aerodynamically-enhanced carbon-fiber bodywork for reduced drag with maximum downforce, other design features incorporated into the MiEV Evolution II racing car are an enhanced electric motor and lithium-ion main battery pack and a powerfully efficient competition driving regenerative braking system - the latter item to not only provide ample stopping power, but to also feed valuable "free" energy back into the lithium-ion main drive battery pack.
Key Components Sourced from Mitsubishi Motors Production Cars
While the all-new MiEV Evolution II is a prototype racing car, two key components are carried over from Mitsubishi Motors' revolutionary street-legal electric vehicle (EV) and the company's all-new 7-passenger crossover vehicle.
These items include the Motor Control Unit (MCU) from the production Mitsubishi i-MiEV that oversees/manages the electric motors, as well as the advanced Electric Power Steering (EPS) system found on the stylish, all-new 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander crossover vehicle.
This will help to improve these components and systems not only for these current Mitsubishi Motors production vehicles but on numerous EVs, plug-in electric vehicles (PHEV) and other technologically advanced vehicles that Mitsubishi Motors will be launching in the near future such as the upcoming plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) version of the all-new Outlander.
MiEV Evolution II Technology Headed to Future Mitsubishi Production Cars
At the other end of the design spectrum, the all-new Mitsubishi MiEV Evolution II racing car at the 2013 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb will be powered by a new prototype lithium-ion main drive battery pack that features a next-generation cell structure for enhanced electrical energy storage.
What's more, this new lithium-ion main drive battery pack makes use of a new cooling system design that weighs less than that found on last year's i-MiEV Evolution while providing more effective heat dissipation.
The all-new MiEV Evolution II features a unique four electric motor drivetrain, with a pair of electric motors situated along both the front and rear drivelines.
These electric motors are identical to those found in the production Mitsubishi i-MiEV, but they have received a software upgrade as well as some hardware reinforcement to comply with the higher voltage; power output is more than double the production i-MiEV's 49 kW (65.7 horsepower) power output to a potent 100 kW (134.0 horsepower).
This new configuration greatly boosts the vehicle's total power output immensely. While last year's i-MiEV Evolution produced a total of 240 kW (321.7 horsepower; 80 kW from each of the three electric motors) this year's all-new MiEV Evolution II belts out a prodigious 400 kW (536.2 horsepower; 100 kW from each of the four electric motors).
The four electric motors powering the MiEV Evolution II are cooled in a nearly identical manner to that of the electric motor in the production Mitsubishi i-MiEV, using a similar water-cooled system. However, the cooling system for the 2013 race car has been redesigned for improved cooling performance as well a reduction in weight.
Lithium-ion Main Drive Battery Pack
While last year's i-MiEV Evolution prototype racing car made use of the identical lithium-ion batteries found in the Mitsubishi i-MiEV production car (just more of them to boost the lithium-ion main drive battery pack's total storage capacity from the production i-MiEV's 16 kWh to 35 kWh in the i-MiEV Evolution race car), the all-new MiEV Evolution II makes use of an advanced next-generation prototype lithium-ion battery design developed by Lithium Energy Japan (LEJ) that boosts storage capacity all the way up to 50 kWh.
Engineers designed an all-new structure to house the lithium-ion battery cells for the 2013 Pikes Peak racing machine. Made entirely from carbon-fiber reinforced polymer, the new structure offers exceptional strength and rigidity as a protective encasement to the state-of-the-art lithium-ion main drive battery pack - along with a substantial reduction in weight from the housing surrounding the battery pack on last year's i-MiEV Evolution.
While the production Mitsubishi i-MiEV can be conveniently charged by either an ordinary 120V electrical wall outlet (Level 1), a 240V home charger (Level 2) or by a rapid CHAdeMO DC quick charger, the i-MiEV Evolution is charged exclusively by CHAdeMo DC quick-charger.
In addition to the voltage output enhancement, the lithium-ion battery placement on the 2013 MiEV Evolution II (above) offers a much lower center of gravity by placing the cells as close to the ground compared last year's car when the battery packs were stacked on both sides of the driver cockpit (below).
The MiEV Evolution II features a strong yet lightweight tube-frame chassis for maximum structural rigidity.
The all-new Mitsubishi MiEV Evolution II has also received a new exterior design to create more efficient downforce. Sections of the carbon-fiber-based body have been aerodynamically enhanced through both wind tunnel research and computer-aided design (CAD) to reduce drag while providing welcome downforce (this includes the addition of a large rear wing) at high altitude.
Though a premium has been put on downforce and acceleration rather than outright top speed, the MiEV Evolution II is still capable of reaching a high top speed of 140 mph. More importantly, thanks to the extensive CAD and wind tunnel testing, the MiEV Evolution II produces four times (4X) as much road-hugging aerodynamic downforce as last year's race car - without adding additional drag.
The suspension design at all four corners of the vehicle is a sophisticated double-wishbone setup with coil-over racing dampers to allow fine tuning of the shock absorbers damping speed through bump and rebound adjustments.
*1: MMC's tagline for a raft of next-generation advanced technologies which aim to contribute to environmental responsibility and to deliver driving pleasure as well as reassuring safety.