Pair of Electric Vehicles Hope to Defend Japanese Supremacy at Pike’s Peak Hill Climb

The root concept of the Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb is blood simple: bring a insanely powerful car and negotiate the hill’s hairpin switchbacks, precipitous drops, uneven road surfaces and 12.42-mile-long, 14,115-foot climb faster than anyone else.

Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima is the undisputed king of Pike’s Peak. Last year, Tajima, the chili dog-chomping veteran Japanese rally driver, became the first man to reach the summit in under ten minutes, ripping up the mountain in a record 9:51.278 in a crazy-looking 900-horsepower, twin-turbocharged, all-wheel drive Suzuki. Suzuki?

Tajima’s not in this year’s race (July 3-8) to make some politically-correct statement on green power. He’s out to smash his record again, and knows it can be done ~ last year, another Japanese driver Ikuo Hanawa piloted his eco-friendly but woefully underpowered Team Yokohama EV Challenge Racer to within two minutes of Monster’s record. If we’ve learned anything about Tajima (inset), we know that he always brings more horsepower, er, kilowatts than he actually needs.

The public got its first glimpse at the old man of the mountain’s latest contraption, the so-called Monster Sport E-Runner at Toyota Mega Web, a Japanese theme park for auto nerds, in early May. And we’ve been given video footage of it running at half-power, and, frankly, although it looks a lot like the Batmobile, it looks awfully slow. Tajima won’t say how many Yuasa AAA batteries he’ll be using.

There’s also a couple of dark horses in this EV race to the top ~ Mitsubishi recently unveiled its sleek MiEV (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle) (below) that will use three motors to produce 320 hp. And BMW says they’ll be bringing a battery-powered M3.