The drag race between the Concept_One, Tesla P90D L and LeFerrari by Archie Hamilton got quite some attention. But it also sparked the appetite of enthusiasts and the motoring press for more. While the LaFerrari is an extremely impressive car, many called for a race against the Porsche 918 which is the most hybridized and only four wheel driven member of the so called “Holy Trinity”. It is also considered the fastest accelerating production car ever made.
The first to challenge the Concept_One against the 918 was Alejandro Salomondrin during the Monterey Car Week. After getting the green light from the US-based owner of the beautiful grey Concept_One, we gladly accepted the challenge.
Alejandro got to drive Concept_One but as everything is buzzing in Monterey during the Car Week it was impossible to get hold of an adequate piece of track or runway to race it against his 918. Running out of time before our crew had to leave to Europe, we decided to do it properly – on the Milan Raceway in Michigan.
The 918 was dominant in most of the head-to-head comparisons between the Holy Trinity (McLaren P1, LaFerrari and Porsche 918) so we weren’t really sure what to expect. This was the big boy’s league and I must admit – I was nervous. We didn’t have the opportunity to try this before so we were also risking to lose in front of a big audience. Still, we were more than happy to try and show what the car can do. I thought to myself: “Even if we lose, it is not so bad to lose against one of the best performance cars ever made – the Porsche 918.”
The supercar market is a fascinating but also cruel place to be in. Many companies have come and gone during the decades – some of which never lived long enough to prove their claims. As most of us at Rimac Automobili are genuine “car guys”, we have outmost respect towards the established supercar manufacturers – many of which are our partners as part of our OEM business – developing and manufacturing high-tech systems for the automotive industry. We admire their capabilities and love their products – each of them is a marvel of engineering and a work of art. We are not trying to show that we are better in any way. We know that the road to the top of the automotive world is a long one and that we are still at our beginning. But we do want to show that we are confident in our products and their capabilities – and that Rimac Automobili is here to stay. I also believe that it is fascinating to see how far electric cars have come and how capable they can be – winning over the few remaining naysayers.
Racing on a prepared drag strip was a first for me – I have never seen such a track in person. I thought that the grip is going to be on such insane levels that there won’t be any slip at all. I had no idea what to expect – my thoughts went from “We will brake some records here today!” to “Will the driveshafts survive the grip?”
Alejandro and I lined-up for a couple of test-runs without any burnouts or other ways of heating the tires up. To my surprise, both cars were struggling for grip. Alejandro was even fighting to keep the car straight at some point.
After the initial runs, we did 6 proper full-throttle runs. Off the line, the cars were still struggling for grip. With every run, the tire temperatures rose so the Concept_One’s times kept getting better and better. While I have hoped that the Concept_One will be faster, I was quite surprised by which margin it won a few times. Out of the 6 proper runs we did, the Concept_One won all but one – when I did a mistake during launch. Still, the times weren’t great and I knew the car could do better. The Concept_One’s consistency is a testimony to electric vehicle performance – the precise control of each wheel enables it to launch good every time while the 918 was varying a lot in its performance during the different launches. There are a few shots in the video that show just how big of a difference there was during some of the runs.
During the 6th run I finally realized how to improve grip – the car needs to roll beyond the start-line and then back up to the start position. The tires pick-up the “glue” and leave gravel and other impurities on the surface of the track. I thought that the 7th run would be “the one”, but Alejandro had to call it a day since the 918 had enough.
Maybe even more important than the result was the Concept_One’s constant power delivery – many people think that electric cars can do one or two proper runs before thermal limits start kicking in. We did eight runs (including two test runs) and the Concept_One was just getting faster and faster.
Interesting fact: The Concept_One consumes 1,96 kWh of energy for a full-throttle ¼ mile run – and recovers a good portion of that energy back after the finish line. A liter of gasoline holds about 9,4 kWh of energy. We could say that the Concept_One used the equivalent of about 1,5 liters of gasoline that day – for six full runs and two test runs. The Concept_One was at 95% State of Charge before the first run and ended the last run with 72% SoC – plenty of juice for more runs.
Of course we are aware that straight-line acceleration is just one of the metrics that matter for this kind of cars, but it still a very important characteristic that matters to drivers in the real world. The results speak for themselves – the Concept_One is incredibly capable on the straight line. But how will it handle and perform on a racetrack? The Concept_One has done many kilometers on various racetracks around the world and we are quite confident in its handling – just as we were in its straight-line capabilities. We believe that our four-motor architecture, the Rimac All Wheel Torque Vectoring, low center of gravity and instantaneous throttle response give the Concept_One a very good combination for tons on fun and good lap-times on various racetracks. 7 radiators and a high-performance approach to designing all the different systems – batteries, motors, gearboxes and inverters – make sure that the performance doesn’t fade away too soon. Despite having grown to a 200-people strong company, we are still a relatively small company with limited resources and a small number of cars being made. We are doing many things at the same time with only a very small fraction of those activities visible to the outside observer. Still, we hope satisfy our fans hunger for more race-track action soon.