Delta Motorsport E-4 Eco Prototype. Taken at Silverstone Launch, May 9 2011. Photos by Adam Walker, Used with permissionEnlarge Photo
On Monday we showed you the first pictures of the Delta E-4 Electric Coupe, an all-electric sports car designed and built by Delta Motorsport. Now it’s time to bring you our very own first person report from behind the wheel at the iconic Silverstone racetrack, home to the British Grand Prix.
A quick history lesson
We’ll forgive you if you haven’t heard of Delta Motorsport. We hadn’t. But as the name suggests, Delta Motorsport aren’t in the business of making cars to sell to the public.
At least, not until recently. Unlike Californian automaker Tesla Motors, Delta Motorsport isn’t looking to revolutionize the reputation of electric cars by making the best electric car on sale today. Instead it is looking to use its knowledge of motor racing to create a silent revolution in the very way in which electric cars are designed and built, from the racetrack to the very heart of Detroit.
Delta E-4 Eco PrototypeEnlarge Photo
Detla’s past projects have been cemented firmly in the world of motorsport, providing engineering services to everyone from Formula 3 race teams through to designing and building fifteen race cars for use in the Grand Prix Masters race series.
Delta Motorsport have even designed and built a two-seat Formula 1 race car, giving those without the prerequisite driving skills a chance to experience the sensory overload that is driving around a race track in a full specification racing car.
In short, Detla Motorsport is an engineering company first, and an automotive company second.
In fact, the Delta E-4 Electric Coupe isn’t the firm’s attempt to break into the mainstream automotive industry. Instead, the firm hopes it can use the E-4 as a technology demonstration vehicle, helping it to work in partnership with larger automotive firms to produce ultra-efficient sports cars.
And if it sells a few hundred of the estimated $115,400 coupe every year along the way, we’re sure it won’t complain.
Since the E-4 has been designed and built by a motorsport engineering firm, we feel it only fair to give you a brief rundown of the technical features first.
Unlike conventional cars which use a chassis made of steel or a composite metal to provide rigidity, the Delta E-4 uses a carbon composite chassis, resulting in a total car chassis weight of just 190lbs. That’s about 1/3 of the chassis weight of a conventionally-built sports car and the equivalent weight of a healthy, active 6 foot tall man.
The use of carbon composites continues throughout the car, with everything from the body panels to the butterfly doors moulded out of ultra light, ultra strong composites such as glass-phenolic and polypropylene fiber composites for the lowest possible vehicle weight.
Aerodynamic drag is kept to a minimum too, with a semi-kammback design giving the Delta E-4 a drag coefficient of 0.27.
In terms of specifications, the Delta E-4 comes in two specifications, “Eco” and “Sport”.
The car we drove was the Eco model, featuring a 32 kilowatt-hour Lithium Ion Phosphate battery pack constructed using 3,168 cylindrical cells, dual Oxford YASA Motors developing 553 ft-lbs of torque each and and dual power circuits capable of pushing the car to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. Top speed is estimated to be around 116 mph and range an expected 140 miles.
The Sport version (which is yet to be built) features quad Oxford YASA Motor setup providing all-wheel drive and a larger 48 kilowatt-hour battery pack. 0-60 is achieved in a more Tesla-like 4 seconds, top speed is estimated to be 150 mph and Delta claim the E-4 Sport will reach an estimated 200 miles per charge.