The world’s fastest electric vehicle has hit the skies.
Rolls Royce’s all-electric aircraft, which has been christened the Spirit of Innovation, recently reached a breakneck top speed of 387.4 mph on a series of runs at the UK Ministry of Defence’s Boscombe Down testing facility in Wiltshire, England. The company says that makes the Spirit of Innovation the quickest EV in the world.
During the runs, which took place on November 16, the battery-powered aircraft set three new world records, too, outperforming a Siemens electric plane that reached a top speed of 210 mph back in 2017. The Spirit of Innovation hit 345.5mph over 3 kilometers, comfortably eclipsing the existing record by 132 mph. It also managed 330 mph over 15 kilometers, which is 182 mph faster than the previous record. Finally, it climbed to 3,000 meters in around 3.4 minutes, smashing the existing time by a whole minute.
The numbers have since been submitted to the World Air Sports Federation for verification, but there’s no denying that aircraft has plenty of, well, spirit. Rolls-Royce isn’t afraid to say as much, either. In addition to a 400 kW (536 hp) powertrain consisting of three motors, the plane is fitted with the most “power dense propulsion battery pack ever assembled in aerospace,” according to the engine manufacturer.
Of course, it’s about more than power and speed. The zero-emissions aircraft, which was first announced in 2019, was developed as part of Rolls-Royce’s Accelerating the Electrification of Flight (ACCEL) program. Partly funded by the UK government and the Aerospace Technology Institute, this initiative is aimed at creating a future of low-carbon flight. It couldn’t be better timing, either, with the global climate summit recently calling for countries to cut emissions by 2030.
“Following the world’s focus on the need for action at COP26, this is another milestone that will help make ‘jet zero’ a reality and supports our ambitions to deliver the technology breakthroughs society needs to decarbonize transport across air, land and sea,” CEO Warren East said in a statement.
Indeed, Rolls-Royce says the characteristics that air taxis require from batteries, for instance, are very similar to what was developed for the Spirit of Innovation.
Who knows, perhaps a 380 mph Rolls-Royce flying taxi isn’t so far off.
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