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Rolls-Royce wants to shatter the electric plane speed record

The 500-horsepower electric propeller-driven plane will also try and beat Rolls' own speed record set in the 1930s.

Rolls-Royce's ACCEL electric racing plane takes inspiration from both the old and the new.

Rolls-Royce/YASA

When people think of Rolls-Royce, they very rarely think of it as being a brand on the cutting edge of technology. That's probably because they're thinking of that other Rolls-Royce, the one that makes cars. The Rolls-Royce that deals with aircraft is always looking forward and the latest proof of that comes in the form of its electric racing plane.

Rolls' electric racing plane was first announced earlier in 2019, and while on the face of things, its 500 horsepower rating and propeller-style propulsion may seem a bit old-fashioned, ACCEL as it's known is anything but. In fact, Rolls-Royce plans to use it to set a speed record.

The ACCEL from Rolls-Royce and YASA looks an awful lot like a racing plane from the 1930s.

Rolls-Royce/YASA

ACCEL -- which stands for "accelerating electrification of flight" -- makes use of several unique design ideas to further its record-breaking agenda. The 750-volt battery pack being used in the racer features 6,000 individual cells that together will offer 200 miles of range. To spin its single low-speed propeller, ACCEL uses three lightweight electric motors, stacked together which deliver a combined 500 hp.

The shape of the plane is reminiscent of the racing monoplanes of the 1930s and 40s, as well as the sleek fighters employed by the Allies during World War II. This means that ACCEL features a sleek mono-wing design with a long and narrow fuselage that should allow the modestly-powered aircraft to exceed 300 miles per hour.

The current electric plane speed record was set in 2017 by Siemens at 210 mph, but Rolls-Royce hopes not only to smash that record but beat its own 343 mph speed record from the 1930s set by a Supermarine S6.B powered by a special Rolls Royce R racing engine.

The record attempt is currently slated to take place sometime in 2020 in the UK.

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