Consumer Reports just tested the Tesla Model S 85D with insane mode, and found it, well, insane. It scored 103 on a scale of 100. And with the men-in-white-coats button pushed, it managed to get to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. That result (and a very positive review overall) sent Tesla stock over $240 a share on Thursday.
The Tesla Model S 85D was tested by Consumer Reports at 3.5 seconds to 60. But VBB-3 is faster. (Photo: Tesla Motors)
Sure, that’s faster than Ferraris, and it's the fastest electric car — that you can buy, at least. But the always inventive folks at Monaco’s Venturi Automobiles, in a partnership with Ohio State University, are after another kind of speed record — in a 3,000 horsepower EV.
Looking something like a cigar on wheels (and distinctly invoking those other Bonneville Salt Flats racers) the battery-powered VBB-3 hit a one-mile average of more than 240 mph. That’s a new FIA land speed record over that distance, if it checks out.
The Venturi team with driver Roger Schroer battled terrible conditions. (Photo: Venturi Automobiles)
In 2010, the same team fielded the 700-horsepower VBB-2.5 at Bonneville and hit 307 mph, setting a category record that still stands. They’re convinced the new car can top that and reach 400 mph, but conditions at Bonneville (in Utah) have been fairly wet.
“A typical track for a world speed record attempt would be 12 miles long,” Venturi said. “However, due to the previous flooding of the salt, the team had only a 10-mile track to work with, and throughout those 10 miles some segments were still partially wet and bumpy with clumps of mud and wet salt.”
According to VBB-3’s driver, Roger Schroer, “In 11 years here I have never driven on such a difficult track. The car was sliding on the surface from one side to the other due to soft spots and bumps.”
I thought the location and the speed was familiar. In February of 1932, the British driver (and national hero) Malcolm Campbell hit 253 mph on the same salt flats in Bluebird, powered by a 23.9-liter, 12-cylinder Napier Lion aero engine. A similar engine powered the Supermarine S.5 seaplanes that set speed records in the Schneider Trophy race in the late 1920s. Can you imagine the sound of those 12 cylinders opening up?
Craig Breedlove, a Yank, went more than 407 mph in 1963, but his win was initially controversial because his jet engine in Spirit of America didn’t directly drive the wheels. But then a new category was created and Breedlove’s win was sanctioned.
The current land speed record for any car is a whopping 760.343 mph, set by Briton Andy Green at Black Rock Desert here in the U.S. in 1997. His Thrust SSC had 110,000-bhp turbofan power. It may not have been fuel efficient, but it was the first car to break the sound barrier.
And here's Thrust SSC breaking that barrier, on video: