Fastest electric cars in the world
Electric power is the future of clean, zero-emissions motoring, but it also has the happy byproduct of making cars go very fast indeed.
With a relative lack of moving parts and almost instant access to peak power from a standstill, high-performance electric drivetrains are giving even the most powerful internal-combustion efforts a run for their money.
From supercars to hypercars, and racing cars to land-speed record holders, the most powerful electric cars in the world regularly boast power outputs of over 1,000bhp and sub-two-second 0-62mph times.
If half of these models can make production with decent ranges and usability, the future of high-performance motoring could shift from its traditional norms quicker than anyone could have expected.
Read on to see some of the fastest cars in the world, past, present and future.
It’s not on sale yet, but the Tesla Roadster – the second car to carry that name for Elon Musk's company – looks set to be a force to reckoned with for all supercars, electric or otherwise. The claimed figures speak for themselves: 0-62mph in 1.9 seconds, 0-100mph in 4.2 seconds, a standing quarter mile in 8.9 seconds and a top speed of around 250mph. Power is yet to be revealed, but torque is expected to sit at an incredible 10,000Nm.
Set to go on sale in 2020, the Roadster will be powered by three electric motors and a 200kWh battery that should give an effective range of 620 miles – although we imagine that figure will drop dramatically if you plan to use every last drop of the car’s remarkable performance. Read the latest Tesla Roadster news.
La Jamais Contente
Not technically available to buy today, or indeed at any time in the last century, the very first fast electric car was this: La Jamais Contente ('The Never Satisfied'). Built in Belgium and holder of the world land speed record in 1899, it was the first ever car to exceed 62mph (100kmh). And exactly how fast did La Jamais Contente go? Just 66mph.
The car’s record was beaten in 1902 by a steam-powered machine that managed 75mph; a petrol-powered car held the record after that by improving the speed by 1mph, and the rest is (mainly petrol or steam-powered) history. Incidentally, today’s electric land speed record sits at 341.4mph, set in 2016 by the Buckeye Bullet 3 featured lower down on this list.
The latest product from the Croatian manufacturer – made famous by Grand Tour presenter Richard Hammond’s high-profile crash in 2017 – the Rimac C_Two is the replacement for the Concept One, designed afresh from the ground up. Power comes from four in-wheel motors that combine to produce 1,888bhp and 2,300Nm of torque.
Performance is suitably impressive: 0-62mph takes 1.85 seconds and the top speed is 258mph. The C_Two has a 120kWh battery that gives 400 miles of range, while an 80% charge can be achieved in just half an hour with a rapid charger.
With a powertrain provided by Rimac, the Pininfarina Battista boasts some extraordinary performance figures that are unsurprisingly similar to those of the C_Two. Foul electric motors combine to produce 1,873bhp and 2,300Nm of torque; 0-62mph is said to take less than two seconds, with 0-186mph dealt with in just 12 seconds.
A top speed of 217mph isn't quiet as extreme as the C_Two, but buyers are unlikely to care: the gorgeous bodywork has been crafted by a company responsible for some of the prettiest Ferraris ever made. The Battista might just be up there with the best of them. Read the latest Pininfarina Battista news.
Aston Martin Rapide E
The first all-electric Aston Martin – excluding the classic electric conversions the company is doing, starting with the DB6 Volante – is this, the Rapide E. Based on the petrol Rapide, the E takes that car’s luxurious, sporty GT character and adds an electric powertrain. It was developed in conjunction with Williams Advanced Engineering and features a 65kWh battery and electric motors making 602bhp.
Acceleration will be impressive, with 0-60mph taking less than four seconds and the 50-70mph overtaking sprint completed in just 1.5 seconds. A top speed of 155mph is claimed. Just 155 examples of the Rapide E are to be built at the company’s factory in St Athan, South Wales; it’s expected to arrive in 2019, costing around £250,000. Read the latest news about the new Aston Martin Rapide E.
One of the most futuristic-looking cars on this list is the Nio EP9, the flagship supercar from a Chinese manufacturer that means serious business. In-wheel motors give four-wheel drive, the slippery body provides plenty of downforce and there's a total of 1,341bhp on tap.
Exact performance figures haven't been released, but the car’s 6m45s lap of the Nurburgring in Germany gives cars like the Porsche 918 Spyder a run for their money. Claimed range is 265 miles, while the battery can be swapped directly for fully charged replacements. Just 16 examples will be built in total; six of those have been sold already at a cool £1 million each.
Volkswagen ID. R
The NIO EP9 holds the lap record at the Nurburgring for an electric car, but perhaps not for much longer: the Volkswagen ID. R electric racer is gunning for that accolade, and if VW's predictions are anything to go by, it'll obliterate the 6m45s benchmark when the attempt is made later in 2019.
The ID.R has pedigree too: it was initially built to win the 2018 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, and it did so in some style. Its time of 7m57.148s along the 12.24-mile course smashed the existing record by 16.73 seconds, becoming the first vehicle to dip under the eight-minute mark. Yikes. Read the latest Volkswagen ID. R news.
Boasting perhaps the best name on this list, the Vanda Dendrobium is a radically styled electric supercar from Singapore. Like Aston Martin and its Rapide E, Vanda enlisted the expertise of Williams Advanced Engineering to give the Dendrobium (named after an orchid) a suitable amount of power.
Exact details haven't been released, but a claimed 1,000bhp is enough to get us interested, especially when its single-seater-style body promises some proper aerodynamics. Top speed is estimated at around 200mph; 0-62mph should be swift, too. A seven-figure price tag is likely to be the barrier to entry for most.
It’s not a looker, but the 1MW is set to be one of the fastest cars on this list if its Finnish maker is to be believed. We’re still not sure if the car has actually turned a wheel in anger, but 1,323bhp is claimed along with a 0-400km/h time (249mph) in 11 seconds. If it ever makes production, the price should be into seven figures.
The latest generation of Formula E cars – the all-electric answer to Formula One – are remarkable machines. While previous seasons required drivers to change cars mid-race, the latest machines have a much larger battery capacity (54kWh) and can go the full distance.
Acceleration from 0-62mph takes less than three seconds and the car weighs just 900kg, with 350bhp or so on tap. Sophisticated and futuristic aerodynamics help drivers extract the most from the series' road-car-like tyres. Find out more about Formula E here.
It looks like an old Corvette, but the Genovation GXE is completely different under its familiar metal. There’s a bespoke chassis and drivetrain developed by Genovation, with enough power for a 209mph top speed and a roughly three-second 0-62mph time.
The company has been working on a follow-up to the car based on the latest Corvette that’s tipped to be the first street-legal electric car to exceed 220mph. You’ll reach the national speed limit in less than three seconds, while a 61.6kWh battery – spread throughout the car to manage weight distribution – should make for a range of around 175 miles.
Buckeye Bullet 3
Claiming the title of the world’s fastest electric car is this, the catchily named Buckeye Bullet 3. The car was developed by Ohio State University in conjunction with French company Venturi to take on the world speed record for electric cars at the famous Bonneville Salt Flats in September 2016.
The result of their efforts was 342.144mph, thanks to two separate electric drivetrains and supremely slippery bodywork with a drag coefficient of just 0.13. Further attempts at the record by the Buckeye Bullet team are expected to clear 400mph; a hydrogen-electric version is also in the works.
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