Charging up the hill will take on an added meaning in this year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

Last Monday, the sponsors of the 95th Running of the Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb announced that there will be a special “Exhibition Class” featuring two EVs: a modified 2017 Tesla Model S P100D from Unplugged Performance and Faraday Future’s FF91, a preview of its first production vehicle unveiled at the Consumer Electronic Show in January.

The Tesla will be piloted by 2011 Formula Drift Champion Daijiro Yoshihara and the FF91 by rookie Robin Shute, 2016 Formula Car Challenge Triple Crown National Champion and Formula Pro Mazda winner.

Unplugged Performance is a Hawthorne, Calif. company specializing in Tesla modifications. Faraday Future is looking to build its FF91 in Nevada, although plans for the factory have recently been delayed.

All the competitors will be going after the course record of 8:13.878, set by Sebastian Loeb in a modified Peugeot 208 with a conventional internal combustion engine in 2013.


In addition to the Exhibition Class, EVs will be eligible to participate in all categories, thanks to a rule change this year that eliminates fuel/power source specific car divisions and classes. This means that Rhys Millen will be back in the Unlimited Class after his record EV time in the eO PP100 at 8:57.118 in 2016. Also competing with an EV in the Unlimited Class is seven-time King of the Mountain Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima, at the helm of his Tajima Motor E-RUNNER.

EVs have been participating in the Hill Climb since the early 80s, with Joe Ball driving the Sears Electric Car to the top in just over 32 minutes. In the intervening years, EVs have steadily whittled down the time, and also compete in 2-wheel categories. The current motorcycle record for the Climb is held by Carlin Dunne, who rode the 2013 Lightning Electric Superbike to the summit in 10:00.694 that year.

One reason for the popularity of electric propulsion at the Hill Climb is the inherent advantage of the motors at high altitude. Unlike internal combustion engines, which lose power as they climb into thinner air, electric motors maintain their rated horsepower throughout the course.

Starting at 9,390 feet, racers zoom another 4,725 feet to the finish line at 14,115 feet. A conventional drivetrain can lose as much as 30 percent of its power during the climb, to say nothing of the strain on the reflexes and breathing of the drivers.

This year’s Hill Climb is scheduled for Sunday, June 25, and will be live-streamed by Matchsports.