This is the Green4U Panoz Racing GT-EV, and while it might look like a giant BattleBot, it’s actually a new all-electric racecar that could run in the 24 Hours of Le Mans — next year, that is.
The GT-EV was created by Don Panoz, a guy with a predilection for racing weird cars. He developed a hybrid endurance racecar in the late 1990s before hybrid racecars were a thing, and he was one of the instrumental figures in bringing the arrow-shaped DeltaWing — which has a long, strange history of its own — to Le Mans in 2012.
The car debuted today in France in the run-up to this weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, and it’s certainly a head-turner — especially in that bright green. It looks much better on paper, though. The GT-EV will supposedly have a top speed of about 180 miles per hour, and a range of around 100 miles, all powered by two electric motors (one on each axle) that have a combined output of between 400 and 450kW of power. Each wheel will offer regenerative braking to feed energy back into the battery in the corners, and active aerodynamics on the car will help slice through the air, allowing the car to run longer.
Even if Panoz makes all that come true, the GT-EV will still be up against some serious limitations compared to the other cars that run in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The limited range means the car will have to pit every 45 minutes or so in order for the crew to swap its battery. The speed limits of the GT-EV mean that, even when it isn’t in the pits, it won’t be able to compete with the LMP1 and LMP2 car classes, the top tiers of endurance racing.
But the GT-EV isn’t being made to compete, at least not yet. The 24 Hours of Le Mans has something called Garage 56, essentially a slot in the race lineup that’s carved out every year specifically for showcasing developing technologies. If Panoz can get the car running at Le Mans, it’d be another big step forward in using motorsports to prove out electric vehicle technologies. And if he doesn’t? Well, there’s always Formula E.