Electric GT, officially known as the Electric Production Car Series, is expected to begin its inaugural season this coming November. Teams of the electric car championship series will be using 10 track-modified Tesla Model S P100D, which are stripped down and fitted with racing components to reduce weight and maximize power. The first track-ready car was showcased recently in a video from auto veteran and former Top Gear and Fifth Gear presenter Tiff Needell, who was able to get behind the wheel of Electric GT’s P100D race car in a test drive around the nearly 2.9-mile Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Barcelona.
While Tiff was impressed by the power and handling of Electric GT’s Model S P100D race car, the vehicle’s limitations immediately became apparent after being driven hard for a lap and a half. After this, the electric car experienced overheating issues, forcing the electric car to stop on the pits to be cooled down. Considering that Electric GT plans to hold 37-mile races for its inaugural season, it would be quite tricky to have vehicles that would only be good for a couple of laps before they overheat.
A spokesperson for Electric GT recently addressed what happened to the P100D race car during Tiff’s test drive. According to the spokesperson, the vehicle had been out in the heat all day before it was driven by the former Top Gear and Fifth Gear host. Engineers from the racing series also noted that some of the car’s sensors did not work properly, allowing the Model S P100D race car’s battery to get hotter than it should have.
“The team spotted an accidental disconnection of one of the outdoor temperature sensors from the air conditioning system, which caused the air conditioning system to not send cold air to the battery and other systems when needed. There is always a limit if the power is used indiscriminately, but the resistance threshold is much higher if the air conditioning system had worked correctly. The team has now fixed that,” the spokesperson said.
Considering the limitations on the Model S P100D race car, the Electric GT spokesperson noted that the vehicle would be able to run the race distances — but with some strings attached. Instead of taking advantage of the race car’s 778 hp all the time, the vehicles would be running at a more manageable 470 hp. The spokesperson further noted that drivers would have full control to decide when to use their P100D race car’s full power, such as when overtaking or dashing to the finish line. This, at least for the inaugural season, would be “part of the strategy and part of the show.”
While using the vehicle’s weakness as a point for strategy is a clever move by Electric GT, the overheating issues of the Model S P100D when driven hard on the track are undeniable. The Model S P100D, after all, is a monster on the drag strip, but it still has teething problems on the track. Fortunately for Tesla’s vehicles, these teething problems do not appear to be present in the Model 3. Over the past months, Model 3s have been taken to the track and driven hard, and not one issue of overheating has emerged from the Tesla community so far. The Model 3 even won the 2018 Canadian Sport Compact Series Time Attack series on its category, and that car was not even the performance version. Nevertheless, the Model 3 Performance, a car that Elon Musk stated is 15% faster on the track than a BMW M3, is set to begin deliveries soon. Once the vehicle saturates the racing market, Electric GT would be wise to adopt the Model 3 Performance as an option for its next racing seasons.
With the Model 3, Tesla is ushering in a new era for its electric cars. The Model 3 might be Tesla’s entry-level vehicle by definition, but its battery tech and electric motors were designed and created at a time when Tesla already had experience in the electric car industry. The Model 3’s 2170 battery cells, for one, are a significant step up from the 18650 cells present in the Model S and Model X. These battery cells are bound to make their way to Tesla’s two flagship vehicles though, most likely in an upcoming and much-speculated Model S and X refresh. If or when this happens, the idea of a Model S track car that can handle events far beyond a 37-mile race would be extremely plausible.