The Fastest Cars — Electric & Otherwise

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Most of those who have been following the auto industry over the past few years are now well aware that the cars with the fastest acceleration are arguably electric. Looking forward, it seems likely that electric cars will totally displace pure internal combustion engine (ICE) cars at the top of the pyramid as regards performance.

To date, ICE vehicles have managed to mostly continue outshining electric ones at the track — with the most notable exceptions being: quick sprints, where some electric vehicles do quite well; and highly limited-run supercars like the NIO EP9. However, based on the specs of the recently unveiled Tesla Roadster 2.0, it seems that even by the metrics that are most attractively favoring ICE cars at the moment … the tide is shifting toward electric vehicles and ICE cars are on the way out.

Yes, even at the track. Well, perhaps ICE cars are not getting completely kicked out, but they are losing ground on record after record and they won’t be at the top of the performance pyramid ever again once they are usurped. As it stands, ICE technological possibilities have been essentially milked dry; electric vehicle tech, on the other hand, is in many ways a wide open field. Or, rather, a wide open racetrack I guess.

With all of that in mind, this article proposes to provide an overview of the current state of things as regards the fastest and the quickest to accelerate electric cars out there today (or “soon” to be released, as with the 2020 Tesla Roadster). We’re also looking at how these offerings stack up against the best performing ICE cars out there now.

Before going any further, I suppose that I should explain here that “fastest” generally refers to top speed and “quickest” generally refers to top acceleration — while most of the electric cars out there now aren’t designed to maintain extremely high top speeds, there are some that are, and there a fair number more slated to be released over the next few years as well. As far as acceleration goes, electric cars (and even SUVs, as with the Tesla Model X P100D) rule the roost already and for the foreseeable future.

The Fastest Cars In The World

Before getting rolling, I’ll also provide a brief overview here of the most recent record-holders of the “World’s Fastest Production Car” title (note: “fastest,” not quickest). The most recent record-breakers as regards top speed (for production cars) are:

◊ The 1998 Mclaren F1, with a top speed of 221 mph (355 km/h) with a limiter, or 240.1 mph (386.4 km/hour) without a limiter. This is while being entirely naturally aspirated. Notably, the model is still the fastest in the world as regards production cars that are naturally aspirated.

◊ The 2005 Bugatti Veyron EB, with a top speed of 253.81 mph (408.47 km/h).

◊ The 2010 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport (the unlimited “Super Sport World Record Edition” version), with a top speed of 267.856 mph (431.072 km/h). Notably, there were only 5 of the unlimited versions made. The other 25 were electronically limited to 257.87 mph (415 km/h).

◊ The current top-speed record-holder (as far as “production cars” go) is the Koenigsegg Agera RS, with a top-speed of 277.9 mph (447.2 km/h). (Note: Christian von Koenigsegg has a Tesla Model S as his daily driver.)

As an adjunct to that, the quickest production car, as regards 0 to 100 km/h (0 to 62 mph), is the 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid — some variants of which can do it in 2.2 seconds. That’s a time that, notably, will be bested by the 2020 Tesla Roadster (with a time of 1.9 seconds) — if Tesla CEO Elon Musk is to be believed. If the Tesla figures are accurate, then the new Roadster will also take the records for quickest times for a number of longer sprints as well — hitting the quarter mile in 8.9 seconds and going from 0 to 100 mph in just 4.2 seconds. And it will come close to if not set the record for fastest production car depending on the accuracy and humility of Elon Musk’s claim of a top speed over 250 mph.

The Fastest Cars With A Plug

Porsche 918 Spyder PHEV

The Porsche 918 Spyder is one of the fastest cars in the world (and one of the quickest). It also “happens to be” a plug-in hybrid (PHEV). The small 6.8 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery pack powers two electric motors that provide 283 PS (279 hp; 208 kW). Those are partnered with a naturally aspirated 4.6-liter V8 engine that provides 616 PS (608 hp; 453 kW). Thus, the total system output is 899 PS (887 hp; 661 kW).

The electric motors and paired battery pack allow the model to accelerate at a rapid clip (thanks in large part to the “instant torque” the electric motors provide). It thus has an officially proclaimed a 0–100 km/hour (0–62 mph) time of 2.5 seconds, a 0–200 km/hour (120 mph) time of 7.2 seconds, and a 0–300 km/hour (190 mph) time of 19.9 seconds. Top speed is at least around 217 mph (340 km/hour). However, as noted further up in this article, there are apparently some variants of the 918 Spyder PHEV that can reportedly accelerate 0 to 100 km/hour (0 to 62 mph) in just 2.2 seconds.

Those wanting to utilize the model in all-electric mode will be disappointed, though, as the model only possesses an all-electric range of 12 miles (19 kilometers) under the US EPA testing regimen. The top speed when in all-electric mode is fairly limited as well, at just 93 mph. And the charge times are excessive if going without the optional DC Speed Charging Station. The full range, gas engine and tank included, is 420 miles (680 kilometers) according to the EPA.

While the model is a “production” car (was, that is — from 2013 to 2015, rip), it’s still fairly exclusive, as its name implies. It had a total of only 918 units produced (hence the name), each of which cost at least $847,000.

With regard to speed at the track, a Porsche 918 Spyder PHEV outfitted with the optional “Weissach Package” was clocked at Nürburgring back in September 2013 doing a lap time of 6:57 on the 20.6 km (12.8 mi) road course — thereby besting the previous record by some 14 seconds.


The NIO EP9 is a very limited-run all-electric supercar manufactured by NIO with assistance from its Formula E racing division. As it stands, the EP9 holds a number of track records across a variety of different categories.

While the model is sometimes referred to as a production car, that seems a bit of a stretch considering that 6 were sold, all to company investors who each paid $1.2 million for theirs — with only a further 10 slated for sale to the general public. In addition, the car is not street legal.

As far as performance goes, the car has a combined output of 1,341 hp (1,000 kW; 1,360 PS) — with each of the 4 motors and transmissions (one for each wheel) providing 335.25 hp. As would be expected, the EP9 is individual-wheel drive and all-wheel drive; and utilizes an advanced torque vectoring system that modulates power output to individual wheels.

As the car was designed exclusively with the race track in mind, it, unsurprisingly, is quite a nimble creature. It manages to corner at 3 Gs, owing to the ability to produce 24,000 newtons (5,395 lbs/2447 kg) of downforce when moving at 150 mph (240 km/hour), about the same as a Formula 1 car does.

Other performance specs are impressive as well — a 0–62 mph (100 km/hour) acceleration time of just 2.7 seconds; a 0–124 mph (200 km/hour) acceleration time of just 7.1 seconds; a 0–186 mph (300 km/hour) acceleration time of just 15.9 seconds; and a top speed of 194 mph (313 km/hour).

Even while being put through an aggressive use schedule at the track, the EP9’s battery pack can provide up to 265 miles (427 kilometers) of range per full charge. The battery pack can be fully recharged in 45 minutes and, very interestingly, can be switched out for a fresh fully charged pack in just 8 minutes, according to the company.

Other facts worth noting: the chassis is all carbon fiber (based on FIA Le Mans Prototype regulations); the exterior is all carbon fiber; the interior is mostly carbon fiber; the car features 4 display screens, giving the driver information on pretty much any metric that she/he wants (lap times, top speeds, track maps, lateral G forces, heart rates, etc.); and the car weighs 3,825 lb (1,735 kilograms), of which 1,400 lb (635 kilograms) relate to the batteries.

With regard to records held, the NIO EP9 has set records for fastest laps by an electric vehicle at the Circuit Paul Ricard track (1:52.78), the Circuit of the Americas (2:11.30), and the Shanghai International Circuit (2:01.11). The model also set the record for fastest lap by an autonomous vehicle at the Circuit of the Americas track (2:40.33). The NIO EP9’s best reported time for the Nürburgring Nordschleife to date was 6:45.90.

Rimac Concept_One

The Rimac Concept_One is essentially the all-electric supercar lovechild of the Croatian enthusiast Mate Rimac, who started Rimac Automobili in 2009 “out of his garage.”

Rimac had decided that he wanted an all-electric supercar, and since such things didn’t actually exist back in 2009, he went about designing and building one (with a lot of help, of course). Altogether, the company ended up developing all of the necessary parts for such a car and now holds 24 patented “innovations.”

Total output of the 2017 Rimac Concept_One is 800 kW (1,073 hp) and 1,200 lb-feet of torque (1,600 N·m), which allows for a 0–60 mph (0–97 km/hour) acceleration time of 2.4 seconds, a 0–124 mph (0–200 km/hour) acceleration time of 6 seconds; a 0–186 mph (0–300 km/hour) acceleration time of 14 seconds; and an electronically limited top speed of 221 mph (355 km/hour).

The car is outfitted with a 90 kWh lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt-oxide (LiNiMnCoO2) battery pack — thereby providing a range well over 200 miles (~300 kilometers) per full charge.

Tesla Model S P100D & Tesla Model X P100D

Including the Tesla Model S P100D and the Tesla Model X P100D on here might seem silly to some, but considering that those two are some of the quickest  cars in the world right now and cost a fraction of what the supercars that they outperform do, it seems to be the thing to do…

First up, we have the…

Tesla Model S P100D With Ludicrous Mode

The Tesla Model S P100D when outfitted with the Ludicrous Mode option is currently one of the quickest to accelerate production vehicles in the world — with a 0–60 mph time of 2.28–2.4 seconds depending on the organization doing the testing (as of March 2017). Those speeds aren’t maintainable for any period of time that would make the model an endurance powerhouse at the track — which isn’t surprising, as the model wasn’t designed with that in mind, but rather as a practical car to shuttle the children of suburbanites to school reliably.

With that in mind, it’s noteworthy that the newest iteration of the Model S P100D features an EPA range rating of well over 300 miles (~500 kilometers) per full charge, putting the offering in a class of its own as regards range. That almost makes up for the fact that top speed is electronically limited to “just” 155 mph (250 km/h) in order to better preserve the battery pack’s working lifespan.

Next up, we have the…

Tesla Model X P100D With Ludicrous Mode

The current iteration of the Tesla Model X P100D SUV when outfitted with Ludicrous Mode can reportedly accelerate from 0–60 mph (0–97 km/hour) in just 2.9 seconds, and do a ¼ mile run (400 meters) in just 11.4 seconds. All things considered — the fact that it’s an SUV, that it’s large, that it possesses a substantial towing capacity, etc. — those figures are pretty impressive, and mean that the Tesla Model X P100D is the quickest SUV in the world. The range is fairly impressive as well — with the all-electric SUV possessing a much more substantial range than the vast majority of “economy” electric vehicles, despite being a huge, blocky SUV.

2020 Tesla Roadster

Photo by Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

While the 2020 Tesla Roadster won’t be released for a few more years (at the earliest, since it’s worth considering Tesla’s issues with meeting its self-set overly ambitious deadlines), the model promises to so completely outclass its competitors that it would be wrong not to highlight what we know here.

If Tesla CEO Elon Musk is right, then the 2020 Tesla Roadster will be the quickest-to-accelerate production car ever made — with a 0–62 mph (0–100 km/hour) time of just 1.9 seconds; a 0–100 mph (0–161 km/hour) time of just 4.2 seconds; and a top speed of over 250 mph (400 km/hour). That’s all while actually still featuring a 2+2 seating arrangement, reportedly … rather than just a crowded nook for one or two people as many supercars do.

The 0 to ¼ mile (0.0 to 0.4 km) time will reportedly be just 8.9 seconds.

For what it’s worth, the 2020 Roadster will also feature a “Maximum Plaid” mode (in keeping with the Spaceballs references of earlier models), allowing for truly extreme acceleration.

The 2020 Tesla Roadster will feature a 200 kWh battery pack, allowing for a single-charge range of 621 miles (1,000 km) at highway speeds. Obviously, range will be much greater at lower speeds.

Something that’s particularly interesting here is that, despite those perhaps unbelievable specs, the model will reportedly sell for $200,000 to $250,000 — a fraction of what most limited-run supercars do.

A couple of other things worth noting: The 2020 Tesla Roadster will possess 3 electric motors (one in front, two in rear); the torque at the wheels will be 10,000 N·m (7,376 lb·ft); the rear wheels will be larger than the front ones; and the car will possess torque vectoring during cornering and all-wheel drive.

Aston Martin Valkyrie

The Aston Martin Valkyrie is a hybrid electric sports car that’s being built collaboratively by Aston Martin, Red Bull Racing, and others. It is expected to go into production sometime in 2018. The idea behind the car is to make it the fastest street-legal car in the world, and to make it a car that’s usable and enjoyable to drive as a roadcar.

As far as specs go, the Aston Martin Valkyrie will reportedly possess a total power output of 1,130 hp (843 kW; 1,146 PS) and be capable of producing 1,814 kg (4,000 lb) of downforce while accelerating (without relying on a rear wing). The innards will be a 6.5 L Cosworth naturally aspirated V12 engine paired with a Rimac-built KERS hybrid battery system. Essentially, everything will be made of Cabrini fiber, with not a single steel component, reportedly.

Production will be very limited, with a total of just 150 roadcar units to be produced, each of which will run buyers ~$3.2 million. In addition, there will be some 25 track versions of the Aston Martin Valkyrie produced.

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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