¬†Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) entered two MiEV Evolution III all-electric racecars, which combine the best of MMC’s electric vehicle (EV) and four-wheel drive control technologies, in the Electric Modified Division of the 2014 edition of the world-famous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (Pikes Peak, June 23 to June 29) in Colorado, United States. Race Day was held on Sunday June 29 and after posting the fastest time of 9 minutes 8 seconds 188, Greg Tracy won the Electric Modified Division honours and 2nd overall. Meanwhile, Hiroshi Masuoka set a time of 9 minutes 12 seconds 204, finishing 2nd in the division and 3rd overall, dominating the Electric Modified Division. These Race Day results and the performance of the cars during the event speak volumes about the advanced level of MMC’s EV and four-wheel drive control technologies.

Greg Tracy’s comment:

“I am extremely happy to be able to deliver this Electric Modified class victory to Mitsubishi Motors. This win means that I am a winner both in two-wheel and in four-wheel vehicles, transitioning towards four wheels was because I really wanted to race with an electric vehicle. The Mitsubishi Motors team prepared a fantastic race car for me. I want to thank the team and also Masuoka-san who helped to develop this phenomenal race car to capture this win. This victory is truly a team effort. The road surface condition today was rather slippery but the S-AWC had eliminated any unnecessary drift of the car, and I was able to attack turns all the way to the top with full confidence. One thing that I am disappointed about from my run is that I was a little too aggressive under the braking in some turns. Therefore, the brakes started to fade a little bit towards the end, and due to pounding from hard braking, I think I lost some time at the top. I am a bit gutted since if it wasn’t for this, I think we really had a good shot at winning the overall as well. With that said, I am really proud to be able to deliver the victory in the Electric Modified Division to Mitsubishi Motors driving the MiEV Evolution III.”

Hiroshi Masuoka’s comment:

“First of all, I would like to congratulate Greg on winning the Electric Modified class. He drove the MiEV Evolution III spectacularly and definitely deserves this win. As a teammate and as a team partner, I could not have been happier for this result. The weather was picture clear today and without any concern with the rain coming in, so I was able to drive aggressively all the way to the summit. If I was to rate to my driving today, I would say it was about 95 points out of 100. I could not deliver a win but I am proud to be able to assist on a one-two finish for the team. As we competed in Pikes Peak for three years with an electric vehicle, we were able to develop an advanced racing machine while learning further about high-level technologies. Additionally, we were able to see the young and upcoming engineers mature through this programme. I am pretty sure that the data and experience garnered through this Pikes Peak participation will bring extreme value as we further develop the electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle technologies in the future.”

The Race: Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

The race starts at an elevation of 2,862 metres and takes competitors through 156 corners on a 20 km course to the finish on the 4,301 metre summit of Pikes Peak. With an elevation difference of 1,439 metres, atmospheric pressure, temperature, weather and other conditions vary significantly between the start and finish. A feature of the race course is that it is split into three major sections: Bottom at the foot of the mountain, Middle and then Upper near the summit.

Lined by coniferous trees, the Bottom section starts with its rhythmical series of mid- to high-speed corners but all of a sudden the drivers hit a series of much tighter and difficult turns which demand the utmost care and concentration.

The Middle section is distinguished by some spectacular scenery with oddly-shaped rocks closely bordering the road. This is a very technical section as shortly after the start a series of tight hairpin bends demand precise handling as the car races along the steeply ascending road.

The Upper section is a very high-speed course taking competitors through many fast corners between craggy rocks and boulders. With little guard railing at the side of the road, this very difficult section brings with it the risk of plunging over the edge should the car slide off the tarmac. This is why the highest levels of vehicle stability are required over the high-speed parts of the section. At 4,301 metres, the mountain summit is higher than Mt. Fuji and the thin air means that cars powered by internal combustion engines lose power the higher up they go. Electrically powered cars, however, are unaffected by the thin air and so this could prove the key section in setting a really fast overall race time.

General Corporate Manager, EV Business Office, Kanenori Okamoto’s comment:

“Mitsubishi Motors launched the world’s first mass-production all-electric vehicle in 2009. In 2013, we launched the Outlander PHEV – the world’s first four-wheel drive plug-in hybrid electric SUV – and we are currently working to make EVs and PHEVs more popular on roads the world over.

Mitsubishi Motors has entered the Pikes Peak Hill Climb three years in a row since 2012, viewing it as an opportunity to verify the performance of major EV components. In the 2012 race we were able to verify the performance of the motors and battery module from the production model under gruelling conditions. In 2013 using motors and battery still under advance development we were able to verify the performance potential of these components as well as their durability under real-world driving conditions.

In the 2014 Pikes Peak, we have verified these components’ durability performance and will reflect them in our next-generation EV and PHEV models. In addition, we will use data from the race to not only to improve four-wheel control technologies – one of MMC’s specialities – to allow future cars to drive faster and with greater stability, but also use Pikes Peak experience to further educate our control system engineers.

We plan to continue development of these four-wheel control technologies at the heart of the control systems in our e-EVOLUTION (integration of electric-motor drive and S-AWC) announced in our New Stage 2016 mid-term business plan.”

Chief Engineer, Yasuo Tanaka’s comment:

“This was our 3rd year competing in Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, and we were able to come home with our goal of winning in the Electric Modified class. I am pleased to be able to demonstrate our advanced electric vehicle technology with this victory. In addition, we were just shy of 2.5 seconds from the overall winner who had an internal combustion engine, but this shows the vast possibilities of electric vehicles in the future moving forward.

One of the key element that played a big role for our result today was S-AWC (Super-All Wheel Control) which is a sophisticated vehicle stability control system. The S-AWC system will monitor the vehicle dynamic attitude and control the torque of each wheel independently, and while this provides advanced safety performance for normal driving on streets, it also aided our drivers to be able to control the vehicle at the limit by using it as an additional tool for them in motorsports form.

Also, by our participation in this race, we were able to gather various data on combining the electric and S-AWC system to utilise towards development on future production models, and our ultimate goal is to use this information to manufacture vehicles that has highest safety technology.”

Electric Modified Division Results:

Position Driver Vehicle Time
1 Greg Tracy MiEV Evolution III 9:08.188
2 Hiroshi Masuoka MiEV Evolution III 9:12.204
3 Tajima Nobuhiro E-RUNNER Pikes Peak Special 9:43.900
4 Ikuo Hanawa HER-02 12:18.019
5 Janis Horeliks 2014 Tesla Roadster 360 12:57.536