Driving the All-Electric 2024 King of the Hammers Race Truck
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Driving the All-Electric 2024 King of the Hammers Race Truck

King of Hammers electric truck parked in desert landscape
  • King of the Hammers continues R&D on an all-electric racing truck.
  • The current EV is lighter than gas versions, with a whopping 885 lb-ft of torque.
  • Driving the truck proves a handful — a delightful, formidable handful.
  • If KOH and partners can figure out the range issue, this truck will be fun to watch.

Step 1: Press your foot onto the accelerator pedal of the all-electric 2024 King of the Hammers race truck and slam it to the floor. Step 2: Hold on for dear life.


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On a narrow trail deep within the Johnson Valley Off-Road area east of Los Angeles, the electric off road vehicle careened forward. Its intense shocks and suspension absorbed the desert bumps with ease. With giant 40-inch tires and a small steering wheel at hand, handling is a challenge. I tried keeping the truck straight but gave up, and I hit the brakes in a hurry.

“That is a handful!” I yelled to Robby, the truck’s main mechanic, over the surprisingly loud whine of the electric motor. My giant smile showed grits of sand lodged between my teeth.


The 2024 King of the Hammers Race Truck Is Beastly

This is one EV that shatters expectations in more ways than one. With four battery packs and a mighty electric motor, it’s a serious machine. Orange high-voltage wires and tubes decorate the bare-metal chassis. Without an engine, empty space abounds under the sparse bodywork.

It’s also extremely capable. The truck is designed to handle high-speed sand racing, as well as low-speed scratching and clawing over boulders. Instead of bumpers, it has banged-up protective bars. The underbody skid plates are scarred from dozens of rock encounters. For an EV, it’s one tough SOB.

Organizers hope the truck will inspire some of its most successful racing teams to field one of their own. The 2024 King of the Hammers event, which just wrapped its annual gathering with more than 100,000 spectators in attendance, wants to introduce an entire EV class one day.


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How the 2024 King of Hammers Race Truck Got Here

The truck began life as a traditional rock-crawling chassis, built by Jimmy’s 4×4 of Colorado to race competitively. When it was fitted with a road-thumping Hemi V8 engine, the truck competed in the KOH 4800 Legends class. Several teams used models just like it.

The idea is to replicate that formula — with voltage. The truck now has four 10-kWh battery packs and electrical components from Hypercraft. The Spicer electric motor sends 335 horsepower and 885 pound-feet of torque to all four wheels. Even though it has heavy batteries and motors, the truck is now actually 400 pounds lighter than before and nearing a perfect 50:50 weight distribution.

As a result, the truck needs only the slightest touch to get moving. Its single motor can send full torque to the wheels instantly. Without a windscreen or any sound-reducing materials to speak of, there is an onslaught of noise and wind.


How the New 2024 KOH Race Truck Drives

Throw the truck into low gear — the truck uses a traditional off-road transfer case — and it bashes over jagged rocks with the best of them. Here the torque is less touchy in order to give a consistent push forward, letting the tires and shocks handle the brunt of the work.


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And of course it’s a blast in the dunes. With a flick of the steering wheel and a stab of the “gas” pedal at the right time, the truck slices into the wave of sand like a fearless surfer. It kicks up a rooster-tail in its wake and powers back down safely to level ground.

In the right hands, it’s easy to see these vehicles becoming formidable weapons at King of the Hammers. The truck’s quickness and capability are true weapons. The biggest drawback is range. As of now, the truck has a maximum range of just 45 miles — and that’s after a recent improvement.

During a brief 20-minute session of acceleration tests and fun in the dunes near King of the Hammers HQ, the truck’s power meter crashed from about 80% to just 35%. That’s a far cry from what’s needed for a legitimate off-road desert race. King of the Hammers says Hypercraft and other partners are working to boost that figure soon.


Is it going to be fun to watch? EV racing has yet to attract much of an audience. It might be tough to convince traditional KOH fans that a (relatively) silent truck is worth cheering over.

But there’s no question that it’s fun to drive. KOH and partners will continue to develop the EV race truck to eventually rival any desert machine. If given the chance, those same old-school fans may be surprised at the size of their own sand-filled smiles.


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IMAGES: RYAN ZUMMALLEN

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AUTHOR: 

RYAN ZUMMALLEN

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