Honda takes electric NSX to Pikes Peak

Honda takes electric NSX to Pikes Peak

Honda is taking on the iconic Colorado Pikes Peak International Hillclimb in its new NSX supercar – but is ditching its savage twin turbo V6 ICE in favour of pure battery power.

Acura – the US branding for the fancier vehicles in the Honda range – is labelling it the NSX-inspired EV Concept.

It will run an experimental version of the four-motor ‘super handling all-wheel drive’ powertrain’ – SH-AWD – which powered a CRZ-based prototype that won last year’s exhibition class at the hillclimb.

The NSX has kicked the Honda attack up another gear, and will take on the increasingly tough Electric Modified class.

The same driver who campaigned last year’s prototype – Tetsuya Yamano – will drive the electric NSX, with the SH-AWD now boasting three times the system output of its predecessor.


“We’ve been tuning the car for several weeks at Pikes and have advanced its performance significantly,” said Yamano.

The clever four-footed powertrain allows independent torque allocation to each wheel using twin motor units on each axle.

These units can provide fully-capable torque vectoring, and the engineering team has taken what it learned from last year’s event to tweak the system’s management to apply far more precise power to each corner when required.

Several dynamic systems work together to make ‘super handling’ worthy of its name – with vehicle stability and electronic power steering providing pivotal inputs to make the advanced version SH-AWD work at its optimum.

There 156 corners on the Pikes Peak hillclimb – many of which have large cliffs on one side and unforgiving rock walls on the other.

“We’re honoured to be running at Pikes in this historical, anniversary year,” said Yamano, “an event respected by racing fans all over the world.”

The big advantage that electric cars and bikes have over the ICE competition is the problem of altitude is defeated. The race starts at 2862m above sea level and finishes at 4302m – the air density change over that 1.4km vertical jump means petrol or diesel-powered vehicles – especially turbocharged ones – are generally forced to pick a state of tune that will cope safely with both extremes.

Others choose to run several preset tunes on the way up the hill – but it’s quite a busy period for the drivers, with the aforementioned 156 corners, making it a bit like hard work to remember to push buttons on complicated engine management systems.

As well as the NSX is set up for race day, it’s going to need to be perfect to win a class that features legendary hillclimber Nobuhiro ‘Monster’ Tajima with a 1.1MW electric car boasting all-wheel torque vectoring and a whole lot of aerodynamic downforce. He set the EV record in 2013.

But Monster has a point to prove this year, after Kiwi Rhys Millen set the event’s new EV record on the 20km climb last year, completing it in just over nine minutes.

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