Hyundai has unveiled the RM20e, its fifth model in a long line of mid-engined rear-wheel-driven racing prototypes which started with the RM14 (RM stands for Racing Midship) in 2014. But unlike the previous iterations, the RM20e is fully electric – hence the ‘e’ – thanks to a helping hand from Rimac Automobili.
Yes, it might look like just another souped up Veloster (a hallmark of all RM prototypes), but don’t be fooled by its appearance, because everything underneath is pretty much all-new. Instead of a turbocharged inline-four engine, the RM20e is powered by a 800V electrical system, driving the single mid-mounted electric motor to produce 804 hp and 960 Nm of torque.
Unlike a more “traditional” electric powertrain which mounts the motor directly on the axles, Hyundai says that the mid-mounted electric motor on the RM20e helps distributes weight more evenly, which helps with the traction of the prototype race car. As a result, 0-100 km/h is achieved in under three seconds, 0-200 km/h in 9.88 seconds, and onward to a top speed of 250 km/h.
Electric juice comes from a 60 kWh battery built with fast-charging capability and liquid-flooded battery module technology. Meanwhile, power from the electric motor is sent to the wheels via a single reduction gear ratio with straight-cut gears.
Just like the previous RM prototypes, the Hyundai RM20e will most likely never see the production lines. Instead, they’re meant to be the company’s N Performance Division’s rolling labs, where it was engineers can extract valuable data and learnings to be applied in the brand’s future N models.
The use of a electric powertrain on the latest RM prototype also “clearly signals future electrified brand aspirations for Hyundai’s performance N brand, moving N into the prestigious genre of supercar-level performance,” says Hyundai Motor Group executive vice president and head of product, Thomas Schemera.
Interestingly, Hyundai also says that its partnership with Rimac – which is set to acquire Bugatti – will also involve hydrogen fuel cell propulsion systems, which means we could be seeing a hydrogen fuel cell-powered race car prototype on the RM21.
The RM20e is the first fruit from the partnership between the Hyundai Group and Rimac. Announced last May, the partnership will see Hyundai and Kia invest EUR64 million and EUR16 million respectively in the Croatian boutique electric hypercar maker.