ETH Zurich from Switzerland became the first ever electric car to win the IMechE's Formula Student event, beating 2,000 competitors from around the world at Silverstone this weekend.
Achieving 921.3 points, the winning team was followed by another electric vehicle - made by German UAS Zwickau. The best performing car powered by a combustion engine, from the University of Stuttgart, Germany, came the third, losing more than 100 points compared with the winner.
“The electrically powered cars have made huge progress going from being unable to complete the 22km endurance event to winning overall in just five years,” Jon Hilton, chairman of Formula Student, said. “We are delighted by this progress but we will have to see what needs to be done in the future to ensure petrol cars remain competitive.”
The Swiss team’s victory marks not only the first time an electric car has won the IMechE’s Formula Student, but also the first time an electric car has won any accredited motorsport competition worldwide.
The best performing UK team was the one from the University of Huddersfield, who scored 502.6 - one place ahead of last year’s champions, Chalmers University of Technology.
Hundreds of people attended the event despite temperatures soaring to 30°C over the weekend. However, several unexpected surprises occurred as some of the promising teams failed in Sunday’s Endurance event.
"The standard of vehicles on display, and the ingenuity of the students who create them, never fails to amaze me. This year's competition showcased exactly why these men and women are among the world's best young engineers, and all who took part should feel very proud of what they achieved," Hilton said.
Formula Student, the world’s largest student motorsport event is organised by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and takes place annually in Silverstone, the home of British motorsport. It challenges student engineers from over the world to design, build and race a single seat racing car in one year. The cars are then judged on their speed, acceleration, handling and endurance in a series of time-trial races, while the teams are tested on their design, costing and business presentation skills.