Hyundai’s new RM20e is an 800-horsepower electric race car – but don’t dismiss it if you’re not a racing fan, as the Korean carmaker declares this hot hatch “conveys the next generation of Hyundai N performance.”
The latest in a series of high-performance prototypes, the RM20e debuting at this week’s Beijing Motor Show takes things a big step beyond the previous RM19 model based on the Veloster. The name tells you plenty, the “RM” short for “Racing Midship,” and the “e” for all-electric.
Though completely street legal, according to Hyundai, the new model picks things up from where the current Veloster N eTCR leaves off and appears to target the eTCR electric touring car series, according to the automaker.
“Our new electrified RM20e pushes the proven RM platform forcefully into a new, environmentally focused decade of the 21st century, stretching the performance envelope of electrification on normal road environments,” said Albert Biermann, president and head of Research and Development Division at Hyundai Motor Group.
“RM20e represents a revolutionary new chapter of electrified performance for the Racing Midship series, and our N engineers continue to garner valuable insights in the arena of zero-emission performance dynamics.”
That should mean we’ll see some of the lessons learned – and technologies borrowed – from the RM20e eventually work their way into the automaker’s expanding production line of N models, such as the Veloster N.
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Increasingly, we can expect to see more and more of those performance models rely on electrified drivetrain technology. Notably, Hyundai Motor Group has said it expects to have 44 “eco-friendly” models in its portfolio by mid-decade, though that includes Genesis and Kia products, as well. (Kia officials
this month noted they expect to have 11 all-electric models by then.)
Hyundai’s decision to reveal the RM20e at Auto China 2020 reflects, in part, that country’s increasing focus on “New Energy Vehicles,” the country now the world’s largest market for BEVs. But the push into electric propulsion is about more than just going green. Electric motors not only can produce a tremendous amount of power but develop virtually 100% of their torque the moment their motors start spinning, a distinct plus on the track.
The specs on the Hyundai RM20e are clearly impressive. Four electric motors punch out a combined 810 horsepower and 708 pound-feet of torque. The race car can hit 100 kmh, or 62 mph, in under 3 seconds, and 200 kmh, or 125 mph, in 9.88 seconds. Top speed is currently limited to 155 mph.
Intriguingly, the package can deliver significant balance and handling, enhanced by mounting the batteries and motors low to the ground to deliver a lower center of gravity than would be possible with a gas engine.
At the same time, it has an almost commuter-style advantage, “retaining daily-driver quietness, responsiveness, and road-going capability,” according to Hyundai.
Another interesting tidbit about the Hyundai RM20e requires digging deep into the automaker’s press release where it makes brief mention of Rimac. That’s the Croatian-based electric supercar company – think Concept_Two – that has been forming relations with a variety of more mainstream manufacturers including the Volkswagen Group as well as Hyundai.
The statement does not offer any details about what Rimac did for the program but it was brought in several years ago specifically to help Hyundai develop high-performance electric models. And its apparent role in the development of the RM20e suggests that program is moving forward, with the prospect that future street-ready N models will have Rimac’s fingerprints on them.