The e-Ruf just confirms our view that its maker is among the world’s coolest car companies. Not content with taking some of the best cars in the world and making them slightly better, and producing the world’s first production car to crack 200mph (it wasn’t the Ferrari F40) Ruf has now decided to take on Tesla and produce a high-end electric sports car based on the RT12, its take on the current 911.
It’s just a prototype for now, but we’ve driven it, Ruf already has 30 firm orders for it, and a plans to build 50 or so each year from the end of 2009. The e-Ruf would be an impressive achievement from a major global player; for a tiny, bespoke sports car firm to commit so much to electric power requires some nerve.
So give me the e-Ruf's numbers first…
Firstly, it’s heavy; at 1910kg the weight is up around 400kg, with the battery pack at 550kg. An eight-hour charge from a standard socket will give you a range of between 150 and 200 miles. Peak power of 200bhp and torque of 480lb ft give a top speed of about 140mph, and a 0-60mph under seven seconds.
Ruf’s aim, for now, is just to match the performance of a standard 911 rather than one of its insane Yellowbirds. It’s still some way off that target, but future prototypes will have smaller, lighter batteries and lighter bodywork to cut weight and improve performance. The Tesla uses carbonfibre panels to compensate for the weight of its batteries.
Where do the batteries go?
Anywhere there’s space; under the bonnet, where the rear seats would be and back into what was the engine bay, which now also houses the smaller electric motor.
The battery tech has been supplied by UK firm Axeon, which has plenty of experience engineering electric commercial vehicles and is keenly eyeing the fast-developing market for electric cars.
Thermal runaway has long been a problem for lithium ion batteries but Axeon claims to have cracked it, allowing Alois Ruf to design some bespoke panels for the e-Ruf without the usual slats and vents. The new chin is modelled on the 356, and the rear end on the 1973 2.7 RS with its elegant duck-tail. And while most manufacturers would plaster an environmental prototype with signage, Ruf limits itself to tiny green logos on the nose and wheel centres.
>> Click 'Next' below to read more of our e-Ruf first drive
Will it outrun a Tesla?
Not yet. It’s very much a prototype; the cabin is all printed labels and laptop ports. It also still has its standard six-speed gearbox; you drive it using only sixth and reverse, and don’t need to dip the clutch to engage the gear. You can feel the huge torque working against a tall gear, but the result is more warm hatch than supercar.
It feels well-engineered already though, in the weight and precision of the steering and brakes and in its impressive lack of rattles for a prototype; the eerie silence from behind would usually exaggerate them.
I want one. Am I looking at a Tesla price tag?
Yes, and then some, but you’ll be getting a Ruf rather than a beefed-up Elise. If it goes on sale – and it’s far from certain – Ruf hopes to offer the e-Ruf for between £120,000 and £150,000, but with performance and range well beyond those of this early prototype. Big money, but well-heeled Ruf aficionados will be queuing up for them.
The eRuf is far from finished, but we admire Ruf for letting us drive the car so early, and for even attempting what General Motors claimed was impossible for so long. We’ll be watching this one with interest, and hope to bring you the first Ruf vs Tesla electric supercar twin-test in a year’s time.
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