Rotax\BRP Announces "THUNDeR" Electric Power Unit for Karts


(John Kwong) #21

One possibility to help make this product get adopted sooner might be to use these at a future Grand Finals event. Rotax tried this tactic a number of years ago with their own RM1 DD2 kart. Found this link since originally posting this: http://www.kartsportnews.com/2017/09/29/rotax-goes-electric/
Like someone said previously, the infrastructure needed to handle all the battery charging would be significant and difficult to do under any other race event circumstances. I wonder if Rotax has pursued any R&D on other recreational products like a Sea-Doo or Ski-Doo?

At 287 lbs, even junior classes would be approaching a minimum weight over 400 lbs and 460ish for Senior. Not exactly nimble weight.

I figure this kart will end up in the $9,999+ range. The chassis is basically a DD2 chassis and those are going for close to $6,000+. Those batteries, electric motor and the high voltage speed control are going to be pricey and I would guess all this new technology to possibly be priced around the present Rotax engine packages.

All in all a neat concept and probably ahead of it’s time much like the RotaxMax was when it was introduced to karting back in the day.


(Andre Molina) #22

As an owner of not one, but TWO EV cars… I’m not really sure about this. It’s really, really heavy.

I guess it isn’t meant to substitute a traditional ROTAX but rather supplement it.


(Nik Goodfellow) #23

Just based on other similar types out there. I would expect the power pack (batteries motor control etc) to be $10k.

I would expect this to more likely turn up in some sort of inner city thing, maybe a support for Formula E.

I don’t think it will work at this point as a competitor for Rotax Max.

Unless they lease the batteries (just an idea rotax)!

Anyway at 400V/16A three phase each unit needs basically a 12kVA connection. A grid of 30 would need a 333kVA service. I could be wrong but I think a typical outdoor circuit won’t have much beyond a residential supply of 30-60kVA. 300kVA is small industry sort of range. And if the transformer that supplies power to the circuit is a utlity owned pole top mounted transformer then it is almost certainly less than 300kVA.

Basically what I’m saying is I don’t think the infrastructure is there, I’m sure they know this, but what there plan is to overcome this I do not know.


(James McMahon) #24

If we ignore the irony for a moment. What kind of portable generator would be needed to provide that kind of ummph.

/edit found one


(Andre Molina) #25

Why not a hybrid kart instead?

Smaller LiPO batteries, a smaller motor capable of taking the kart from 0-40MPH or whatever, a brake and coast regen system, and a direct drive 2 cycle powerplant to take it from 40MPH to the moon?

The electric motor will only take care of starting the kart (no push starting!) and of the acceleration out of corners, in every other part of the track the system will be charging (the batteries will work as a dump pack) while the kart is banging around in 2 stroke Formula A mode.


(Ty Schlorer) #26

I like the concept, but if a company like Honda can’t figure out how to make that type of tech work effectively, can you imagine one of us trying to make it work?


(Eric Gunderson) #27

Don’t cut yourself too short Ty!

If you want some really creative people to tackle a problem…create a racing series around it (looking at you, Formula E).


(James McMahon) #28

Sounds like something that could added to your Swiss hutless :wink:
The “rotax” EV unit already has the regen built in. Drop the weight in batteries and see what happens.


(Dom Callan) #29

So all the cars I know of that use electric as a powerband filler (p1, la Ferrari, porsche whateveritscalled) all cost north of a million bucks.
This kart is getting pricier as the day goes by.


(James McMahon) #30

My complete, totally unsubstantiated guess is that the complete kart is probably on par with a DD2.


(Nik Goodfellow) #31

Maybe they will bring a truck full of batteries to a race and just swap them out between each race. Then the truck can act as a charging bay for a low voltage charge during the day and night giving you charged batteries for the next days swap outs.


(James McMahon) #32


(Davin Roberts Sturdivant) #33

Exhibitionist activity, in my opinion. So (shrugs) until I see something of value to the regular club racer.


(Dom Callan) #34

What’s with the museum of antique horse drawn carriages?


(Eric Gunderson) #35

I think those are metaphorical representations of current karts…

Which is ironic, since Rotax makes engines for the horse and buggy crowd too…


(Andre Molina) #36

I was thinking, what’s the point of this thing?

We can’t argue that kart technology will trickle down to road tech in the same way Formula 1, Formula E, and LMP1 organizers “can”.

I can see the application to indoor tracks (less noise, no pollution) but what’s the point on having electric karts in big tracks? Sacrifice weight, logistics, and overall performance for less noise and less emissions? If the concern is environmental impact, run all engines on methanol or ethanol like IndyCar does.

Rotax is probably just trying to jump in the EV bandwagon and capitalize on the marketing momentum. Maybe it will work for them, who knows.

EDIT- A quick background: I am BIG into the environmental/EV movement. I own not only one EV, but TWO. Both my daily and my wife’s car are plug in hybrid and electric, respectively. Reducing congestion emissions in something you drive every day is great, but there are better options for motorsports. The tech is not there yet.


(Eric Gunderson) #37

From how Rotax is marketing this–it looks more like they are trying to bring Formula E to karting, which is fine by me, albeit a lot to learn! Regardless, it seems like that is roughly where their thinking stopped. “It’s the ‘in-vogue’ thing to do, so let’s do it.” If I was from Rotax, perhaps I could argue that it can help them improve tech they would use in Rotax/BRP products as they go electric as well. BRP and Rotax make a lot of IC engines that extend well beyond karting.

One issue that a lot of kart tracks do have is when Johnny-uptight moves into a new housing subdivision that has sprung up next to a track that has been there for 40 years. They complain of the noise, and suddenly the track shuts down. At least in SoCal, this is a common issue, or has been over time. From that perspective, as a racer that would like for tracks to stay open, that’s a plus.

On the flip side, a lot of karting retailers rely on high-ticket items to retail. Fuel, tires, etc…if you take a few of those away, that could be tricky. I would imagine the infrastructure/knowledge and training needed for high-performance batteries and service would present a challenge to most karting facilities.


(Dom Callan) #38

My plan for when I win the powerball is to build a sweet kart facility on my land and have a fleet of 6 electric karts. No noise complaints.


(Kevin Q) #39

The latest update was OCT '17. Any updates on the Rotax THUNDeR in the meanwhile?