Launched at this month’s Cenex automotive trade show, the Hipercar 2 uses a heady combination of Ariel’s track-orientated chassis and packaging with Cosworth’s powertrain know-how. Said to be useable on the road as well as the track, the Hipercar is designed to beat lap records set by petrol-powered cars to demonstrate the capabilities of EVs.
The Hipercar is most definitely a striking design. Wings front and rear define the car’s aggressive look, and it’s fair to say there’s nothing else like it in the world.
Aerodynamic performance is obviously at the heart of the Ariel’s design, given its ambition to steal lap records from petrol-powered cars. Up front, air is channelled under, over and even through the car’s bodywork via a three-level wing setup. The air that flows under the car is routed upwards at the rear by an aggressive diffuser.
Even more striking at the rear are vertical surfaces which help with vehicle stability. Two of these sit on the rear wings and look a bit like those on an SR-71 Blackbird. A large central vertical wing runs down the car’s centreline from the cabin roof and houses a high-level brake light and the exhaust from the range-extender turbine.
The Ariel Hipercar’s powertrain is arguably the most interesting part of the car. It combines a battery-electric system running at 800 volts with a small turbine which works as a range extender.
Cosworth developed the battery pack, pushing its existing technology to be able to deliver a lot of power for extended periods of time, whilst also managing cooling demands on track which are ten times those on the road. Cosworth’s cylindrical scalable module (CSM) has been employed due to its flexibility in terms of size and shape, with a total of 5750 individual cells within 32 modules used. At its peak, it can draw current at 1450 amps to generate power of around 1200hp.
Liquid cooling using water-glycol evenly run between the cells and managed with numerous temperature sensors ensures that even under prolonged, heavy use, there is no overheating. Further cell management is delivered through data capture boards within each of the 32 modules which measure 360 parameters and enable the master controller to optimise performance.
As well as the battery, which offers around 150 miles of range, the Hipercar 2 can be fitted with a Cosworth micro-turbine range extender. This runs at a fixed 110,000rpm to generate 35kW of continuous electrical power to maintain a particular state of charge within the battery. The benefits of using the turbine include its weight, which at less than 50kg is much lighter than an equivalently powerful internal combustion engine. It’s also simple, with one moving part, and fuel agnostic so it could be run on carbon neutral biofuel or hydrogen.
At the moment, the Hipercar 2 is very much a technical proof of concept – a one-off built to test the technology and steal some lap records along the way. Don’t bet against a simplified version being made available in limited numbers in the future, though.
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