An internal combustion engine turns nearly two thirds of the energy in its fuel into wasted heat—half of it jettisoned through the exhaust, half handled by the engine's cooling system. Electric cars are much less wasteful, with fewer moving parts to generate friction and none of the byproducts of combustion.
So does that mean an electric car might be the perfect platform to break 300 mph?
That's the question Jason Fenske concerns himself with in . From the outset, it seems like a simple thing to answer. Electric cars (like the NIO EP9 shown above, which lapped the Nurburgring in a blistering 6:45) don't need the huge, heavy, un-aerodynamic cooling systems required by internal combustion engines. Better aerodynamics means it takes less power to go fast, which means it's theoretically easier to break 300mph. Right?
Not quite. As Fenske explains, electric cars still need a cooling system, even if they're not managing the outrageous heat caused by burning fossil fuels. And while electric car drivetrain components run at much lower operating temperatures than those of internal combustion cars, that actually makes it harder to keep things cool, because the temperature difference between ambient air and an electric car drivetrain is often very small.
It's complicated, but it's a fascinating hypothetical to consider. The bottom line: As far as Fenske can tell, it's likely that the realm of production car top speed will stay dominated by internal combustion for the near future.