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Ohio State’s electric streamliner Venturi Buckeye Bullet 3 aims to break international land speed record


Photo of the Venturi Buckeye Bullet team during 2014 testing at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Venturi Buckeye Bullet team during 2014 testing at the Bonneville Salt Flats. [Photo: Denis Boussard, Venturi Automobiles]

After a year-long process of systems testing and refinement, Ohio State’s Venturi Buckeye Bullet team will be back on Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats with its most recent electric streamliner, Venturi Buckeye Bullet 3. In a private event attended by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), August 17-21, the team seeks to best its own record for the world’s fastest electric vehicle, 307.6 miles per hour (495 kilometers per hour). This year’s goal is an average two-way speed of 373 mph (600 kph). The vehicle must make two speed runs, one each in opposite directions and within 60 minutes, in order to be considered for an FIA record.

The vehicle has been developed in partnership with Monaco-based electric vehicle manufacturer Venturi Automobiles.

“This program serves as a model of university-industry collaboration,” said team faculty advisor and director of the university’s Center for Automotive Research, Giorgio Rizzoni. “The team has interacted with Venturi Automobiles and many other companies to develop groundbreaking electric traction and vehicle technology.”

Propelled by two custom electric motors developed in conjunction with Venturi Automobiles, the VBB-3 is powered by over two megawatts of lithium ion batteries produced by A123 Systems.

The goal of the project is central to “technological innovation’s application to energy management and efficiency, both of which are the key influencers of performance and range,” said Nicolas Mauduit, CTO of Venturi Automobiles.

The vehicle will be piloted by Roger Schroer, veteran team driver from Transportation Research Center, the nation’s leading independent automotive proving ground and vehicle testing organization in East Liberty, Ohio.

Venturi Buckeye Bullet 3 team during July 2015 tests runs at the Transportation Research Center.
Venturi Buckeye Bullet 3 team during July 2015 tests runs at the Transportation Research Center. [Photo: Holly Henley, Ohio State]
Consisting of undergraduate and graduate students, the team has worked to design, build and refine its vehicle at Ohio State’s Center for Automotive Research. In conjunction with the College of Engineering, the center brings together students from a number of disciplines to collaborate on the project.

“The Venturi Buckeye Bullet is a brilliant example of how Ohio State’s College of Engineering offers students an experiential education in the Center for Automotive Research’s unique setting,” said Rizzoni.

Ross Johnstal, electrical engineering student and leader of the team’s electronics system, recognizes this opportunity. “One of the best parts about Ohio State is the university’s vast array of unique opportunities,” he said. “The Venturi Buckeye Bullet is definitely one of them. I find it incredibly rewarding to be a part of a world record-breaking engineering project that is one-of-a-kind to The Ohio State University.”

In addition to the entry in the FIA competition, the team also prepared to participate in this year’s Southern California Timing Association’s famed Speedweek event, which was set to be held August 8-14, on another part of the Salt Flats. However, poor salt conditions have resulted in the competition’s second cancelation in two years’ time. The team will instead compete in the private FIA event, to be held at a different area of the Salt Flats.

Should the team achieve their world record-breaking goal, the vehicle’s performance would be consistent with years past. During tests in 2014, despite flooding on the Salt Flats and a reduced-length course, the VBB-3 obtained an average two-way international speed record of 212.615 mph (342.171 kph) in FIA Category A Group VIII Class 8.

Prior to that, the team’s most recent achievement was in 2010, with the lithium ion battery-powered VBB-2.5 reaching an average record of 308 mph (495 kph) and a top speed at 320 mph (515 kph), setting a record in Category A Group VIII Class 4.

“The team is extremely excited for the upcoming record attempt,” said team leader David Cooke, a 2015 mechanical engineering graduate. “Following three years of design and two years of building and testing the vehicle, the long awaited time has come to take the VBB-3 to the track to chase world records. The team has worked tirelessly to prepare for the event and is hopeful the track conditions will allow the vehicle to perform to its maximum capabilities,” he said.

The team has set numerous other speed records in the past decade. In 2004, Buckeye Bullet 1, which ran on nickel metal hydride batteries, set a national land speed record with an average time of 315 mph (506.9 kph). Venturi Buckeye Bullet 2, the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell-powered land speed electric vehicle, set the international record of 303 miles per hour (487.6 kilometers per hour) in 2009.

Contact: Holly Henley, CAR Marketing and Communications,, 614-292-4217

About Venturi Buckeye Bullet team
The mission of the Buckeye Bullet team is to provide unique engineering challenges for students. The team strives to provide valuable, hands-on experience, creating some of the best young engineers in the world. The goal is to promote and represent sponsors professionally and with integrity, aiming to bring together great minds and new technologies to overcome the most difficult challenges. This student team, located at the Center for Automotive Research, pushes the envelope of electric vehicle technology and in so doing hope to change public perception of electric vehicles. Mission: prove that green technologies of the future will be both fun to drive and fast! More: Follow the team on Twitter at @OSUCtrAutoRsrch and @buckeyebullet3; Facebook and Twitter using #VBB3.

About Venturi Automobiles
Venturi Automobiles was founded in 1984 in France as a sports car manufacturer. Purchased in 2000 by Gildo Pallanca Pastor, it focuses on innovation in the field of electric vehicles by harnessing the most advanced technological solutions in this area. Venturi expertise extends from urban cars to high-performance vehicles.

About The Ohio State University
Founded in 1870, The Ohio State University is a world-class public research university and the leading comprehensive teaching and research institution in the state of Ohio. With more than 63,000 students (including 56,000 in Columbus), the Wexner Medical Center, 14 colleges, 80 centers, and 175 majors, the university offers its students tremendous breadth and depth of opportunity in the liberal arts, the sciences and the professions.

Categories: ResearchStudents