Swiss students have broken the 1-second EV acceleration mark

A team of students from ETH Zurich and Lucerne University have hand-built an electrical vehicle that is now officially a world record holder.
Christopher McFadden
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It is no official, thanks to Guinness World Records.

ETH Zurich 

On September 1, 2023, a group of speed freak students from ETH Zurich and Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Switzerland demolished the electrical vehicle acceleration world record in style. Spending every spare minute building and refining their racing car, called "Mythen," they managed to get from zero to 62.15 mph (100 kph) in 0.965 seconds over a distance of 40.3 feet (12.3 meters).

Record breaking achievement

Built by a team of students from ETH Zurich and the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, the team dedicated nearly a year to developing their electric vehicle. Despite various setbacks, they persevered and worked tirelessly on the project, often returning to the drawing board to refine specific components.

Now officially recognized by Guinness World Records, "Mythen" has broken the previous world acceleration record for electric vehicles. The record was achieved at Switzerland Innovation Park in Duebendorf, Switzerland, located directly across from the students' workshop. Driven by Kate Maggetti, this beats the previous world record of 1.461 seconds, set by a team from the University of Stuttgart in September 2022, by more than a third.

“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 Academic Motorsports Club Zurich (AMZ).

The students who created "Mythen" developed all its components, including the printed circuit boards, chassis, and battery, and optimized them for their intended purpose. They utilized lightweight materials such as carbon and aluminum honeycomb to achieve a weight of only 309 pounds (140 kilograms). The race car also boasts an impressive power of 240 kilowatts, or approximately 326 horsepower, thanks to the four-wheel hub motors and a special powertrain the students designed.

“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. But to help them beat the record, they also needed to find a novel way to keep their racer firmly stuck to Terra Firma at such high speeds.

Traditional Formula One vehicles rely on aerodynamics, using a rear or front wing to generate downforce and keep the car on the track. However, this technique only becomes effective at high speeds. To get around this, the AMZ team has created a suction-based "vacuum cleaner" to maintain strong traction from the beginning, keeping the vehicle firmly grounded.

Becoming a habit

The AMZ team has broken the world acceleration record for electric cars twice, in 2014 and 2016. However, a team from the University of Stuttgart broke their record in the following years. Nonetheless, thanks to the ETH Zurich students, the world record is now back in Swiss hands. The team is also confident they won't lose the record again soon.

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