From zero to one hundred in 0.956 seconds

(All Photographs: Alessandro Della Bella / ETH Zurich)
(All Photographs: Alessandro Della Bella / ETH Zurich)
Students from ETH Zurich and Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts have broken the previous world record for acceleration with their hand-built electric racing car, mythen. The vehicle accelerated from zero to 100 km/h in 0.956 seconds over a distance of 12.3 metres.

"Working on the project in addition to my studies was very intense. But even so, it was a lot of fun working with other students to continually produce new solutions and put into practice what we learned in class. And, of course, it is an absolutely unique experience to be involved in a world record," says Yann Bernard, head of motor at AMZ.

Lighter, stronger, more traction

All of mythen’s components, from the printed circuit boards (PCBs) to the chassis and the battery, were developed by the students themselves and optimised for their function. Thanks to the use of lightweight carbon and aluminium honeycomb, the race car weighs in at only around 140 kilos (309 pounds). Four-wheel hub motors that the students developed themselves and a special powertrain give the vehicle its impressive power of 240 kilowatts, or around 326 hp.

"But power isn’t the only thing that matters when it comes to setting an acceleration record - effectively transferring that power to the ground is also key," says Dario Messerli, head of aerodynamics at AMZ. Conventional Formula One cars solve this through aerodynamics: a rear or front wing pushes the car to the ground. However, this effect only comes into play when the car has reached a certain speed. To ensure strong traction right from the start, the AMZ team has developed a kind of vacuum cleaner that holds the vehicle down to the ground by suction.

Hotly contested world record

The AMZ team had set the world acceleration record for electric cars twice before - in 2014 and again in 2016. In the following years, their record was broken by a team from the University of Stuttgart. Now the world record is back in Swiss hands, and the ETH Zurich students are confident they will not relinquish it again any time soon.