There’s a new world record for the fastest 0 to 62 mph (0–100 km/h), courtesy of a team of students at the Academic Motorsports Club Zürich and the Swiss universities ETH Zürich and Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. The team did so with a scratch-built EV, designing everything from its chassis to its circuit boards, and bested the existing record—set last year by students in Stuttgart, Germany—by more than a third.
The near-instant torque of an electric motor means that even a relatively low-powered hatchback like the Mini Cooper SE or Chevrolet Bolt feels quick off the line. In the days before electric propulsion’s recent renaissance, a 0–60 mph time in the three-second range was the stuff of unobtainium. Now, you can buy a Tesla Model 3 that will hit 60 in 3.5 seconds for less than $50,000.
As the price point goes up, the 0–60 time comes down. Anything starting with a 2.x is quick enough that it overcomes even the most jaded road tester in a way that taking 1 second longer to get there doesn’t. Tesla will sell you a Model S that will get you there that quick, and Porsche’s Taycan Turbo S is designed to do hard launches all day long until the battery is drained.
But you need to spend real money to hit 60 before the stopwatch says two. A Pininfarina Battista will do it in 1.85 seconds, as someone found out last year, but you need $2.5 million for one of those. Then in May, a Rimac Nevera did the dash in 1.74 seconds—a bargain compared to the Battista at just $2 million.
Each of those hypercars boasts more than a MW of power. By contrast, the student-built EV makes do with just 326 hp (240 kW), courtesy of four hub-mounted electric motors. But the car—named mythen—also only weighs 309 lbs (140 kg).
Driven by student Kate Maggetti, mythen reached 62 mph (100 km/h) from a standing start in a mere 0.956 seconds. The record-breaking run took place at an airbase in Duebendorf, Switzerland, but could almost have been held in a basketball court—it needed just 40.3 feet (12.3 m) to reach that speed.
“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,” said Dario Messerli, head of aerodynamics at Academic Motorsports Club Zürich. Sixty-two miles per hour isn’t fast enough to generate any significant downforce via wings, but mythen features a ground-effect generating underbody that allows it to deploy its power so effectively.