It's five years now since the Elemental RP-1 emerged onto the lightweight British sports car scene, and very impressive it was too. "The passion of the team is infectious, the car looks great and goes like absolute stink" was the first drive verdict on a prototype. After a few years away, the Elemental team is now back with a new RP1. A pair of them, in fact...
First up is the RP1R, which adds everything that might be expected when 'R' is affixed to a track car. There's more power, with 375hp now from the 2.3-litre Ford Ecoboost, though torque is unchanged at 332lb ft. Plus, of course, there's extra downforce, with a claimed 1,000kg at 150mph now thanks to a revised aero package. And, perhaps most importantly of all, RP1R customers can have a windscreen. So if that was holding you back before, there's no excuse now...
But the big Elemental news is confirmation that the RP1 will soon be offered with battery power. Using the existing chassis, 800V electrical architecture supports a 40kWh battery to provide 570hp. Which is about par for the EV course - you always expect lots of power. The significant stat here is weight, because the electric Elemental weighs just 875kg; a quarter of a tonne more than the petrol powered car, yes, but very slender in a world of two-and-a-half-tonne battery-powered SUVs.
There's more good news, too, as Elemental says the car's 180-mile range is enough for 20 laps of Silverstone GP at full race pace. Which is probably faster than most of us can go. The rapid charging capability should mean that 80 per cent of charge can be restored in just an hour - perfect for the lunch break - although good luck finding a rapid charger anywhere near a circuit. Still, a nice idea if it all comes together - especially with the ability to sprint from 0-62mph in 2.5 seconds.
Elemental is working with Apex on the new RP1 EV, following collaboration on last year's AP-0. Both are keen on making lightweight, enthusiast focused EV sports cars, of which precious few currently exist. The new Apex will be sold in China as the Apex AP-1EV.
Elemental Technical Director, John Begley, said (pleasingly) of the company's announcement: "While many companies are pursuing ever higher capacity bigger, (and heavier) batteries for EVs, achieving light weight is fundamental for a high performance electric sports car. By optimising the battery and powertrain installation for weight instead of chasing headline output figures, we can maintain the low vehicle mass, aero performance and chassis dynamics of the original RP1 to create a lightweight, agile and highly usable EV sports car."
Which all sounds like good news in the grand scheme of things. We're still a little way from seeing the RP1 EV in the paddock, given this is an announcement of the project rather than the finished car, but it's an encouraging electric vehicle development - as in it's not another humungous two-tonne barge claiming to be sustainable. Elemental will be at Motorsport Days Live next weekend (November 5th/6th) if you want to know more.
1 / 4