Dr. Hiroshi Shimizu built his first electric car more than 20 years ago, converting a gasoline-powered sedan to electric drive.
An environmental engineer by training, he became increasingly interested in pushing the boundaries of electric car technology; the most recent manifestation being the Eliica, a powerful, eight-wheeled super car with a 230 mph (370 km/h) top speed. Each of the eight wheels is driven by a 60kW (80 hp) electric motor.
First conceived in 2003, Shimizu and his engineering students built a pair of Eliicas for an estimated $320,000. One version is considered a "speed" model; the second, the "acceleration" model. The goal of the Keio University team is to set the world speed record of 400 km/h (250 mph).
Both models utilize lithium ion batteries and have a working range of 200 miles (320 km).
Interest in Dr. Shimizu's efforts apparently has been recently rekindled as the government of Japan recognizes the importance of electric vehicles. The team would like to receive corporate sponsorship to build 200 of the four-passenger vehicles for an estimated price of 30 million Yen or approximately $255,000.
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