A new era in motor racing as arrived, as the world's first Formula E season kicked off in Beijing over the weekend. The new sport will see 10 races in cities around the world, including Buenos Aires, Miami, Monte Carlo and Berlin, with the season culminating in a London street circuit next June. The launch of Formula E has divided the motor racing community, with some labeling the event as a gimmick. Virgin Racing Team driver Sam Bird said, "if this was a gimmick then why would we have so many drivers interested in doing it with some of the biggest names in motor sport?" Some of those big names include four-time F1 world champion Alain Prost and Bruno Senna, nephew of F1 great Ayrton Senna. In addition to expanding the possibilities of motor racing, the Formula E also helps to "develop electric vehicle technology, accelerate interest and promote sustainability", according to the event's organisers. They hope that the event will show people that "EVs don't have to be 'uncool' or 'slow'". Virgin chief technical officer added to this sentiment by saying that electric motors are "a lot more compact, smooth and are better in every single way." The race was won by the Audi Sport ABT team's Lucas di Grassi. Just like many other motor races, a major crash marred the end of the first Formula E event. As drivers Nick Heidfeld (Venturi Formula E Team) and Nicholas Prost (e.adams-Renault Formula E Team) headed into their final turns they collided. Both drivers avoided serious injury and unlike many accidents involving petrol-fueled race cars, there was no fire. Race winner di Grassi said "I'm happy Nick [Heidfeld] is okay, and it shows how safe these cars are." di Grassi said he [...]
"In the spirit of the open source movement", Tesla has removed patents to allow greater innovation from electric vehicle developers. Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk acknowledges that the real competitors of his company are't the few other EV models on the market currently, but rather the "enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world's factories every day." Like any other technology developer, Tesla created patents in order to avoid the theft of their ideas by competitors. However Musk believes that the opportunity to reduce emissions and move the world towards a more sustainable and efficient transport system is crucial, pointing out that currently EV accounts for less than 1% of total vehicle sales. While removing patents is a bold move, and one that perhaps can be afforded only by the fact that Tesla is currently secure in its position as market leader, the decision will surely be inspiring for the global engineering community. "We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform", writes Musk. "Technology leadership is not defined by patents, [...] but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world's most talented engineers." Clearly dedicated to an EV future rather than dominated by its own bottom line, Tesla recently announced that a competitive pricing strategy in Europe and China, rather than taking advantage of markets traditionally open to the cost of luxury vehicles. Ensuring affordability and encouraging innovation may well be a strategy that maintains Tesla Motors's position as global electric vehicle leader. Read Elon Musk's patent article here.
As Tesla pushes forward into the European and Chinese markets, online publication CleanTechnica speculated today whether the luxury vehicle manufacturer is looking at pricing cuts, in addition to streamlined logistics, to ensure overseas success. Reports show lowered prices in European markets also, with a close to 7,000 Euro drop in the price of a Tesla Model S in Germany. The reason for this isn't clear: it could signify low demand, or perhaps it is part of Elon Musk's strategy to sell more cars in the region. Musk declared last month that "towards the end of the year, we expect sales in those regions combined to be almost twice that of North America." Tesla also isn't planning on price hikes in China to take advantage of a premium-car loving market. The price will reflect increased shipping costs, duties and taxes, however Tesla won't be increasing its margin on Chinese sales. Yesterday CleanTechnica also published the results of a reader poll on what will be the "Top-Selling Electric Car in US & Europe in 2014", with the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla Model S topping both lists. In the US the Toyota Prius Plug-in and Chevy Volt are also likely to be popular, while Germany, France, the Netherlands and Norway favoured the BMW i3, the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in and the Renault Zoe. CleanTechnica boasts to be the world's number one most trafficked cleantech-focused website, with around 186,000 unique visitors per month. Read the full article about Tesla's European and Chinese pricing here. Read the full article about 2014 top-selling electric cars here.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced at the recent New York Times DealBook conference that he has envisaged a design for an electric supersonic airplane, saying there's an "interesting opportunity to make a supersonic vertical takeoff landing jet". Musk cited the end of the Concorde service as his inspiration for the idea. Musk also announced that an electric pickup vehicle is on the cards for the EV manufacturer. Likely similar to Ford's F-Series pickup trucks and might be ready in 5 years. Electric pick ups, supersonic jet planes and the Hyperloop - sounds like science fiction, but with the right power control systems it seems anything is possible. Musk, often cited as the inspiration for Robert Downey Jr's Tony "Iron man" Stark, seems to have recognized that anything is possible, a mindset the engineers at Indice share. Currently Indice's power control algorithm has enabled the us to develop industry leading LED lights, including dimmable MR16s downlights, AR111 lights and a 250W highbay. Indice also launched its car audio amplifier earlier this year at the International CES, which is ideal for electric vehicles, such as Tesla, due to its power, fidelity, efficiency and regenerative PSU. The amplifier will also demonstrated at International CES 2014 at the beginning of January, on the Rare Audio Mobridge stand. Read more about Elon Musk's interviews at Wired here. More detail about the electric pickup vehicle at Business Insider Australia here.
Motive Power Systems and Trans Tech Bus have collaborated to develop the first all-electric school bus which will hit US roads in 2014. The buses are built on Ford E450 chassis and have an all-battery, all-chassis compatible Motive electric Powertrain Control Ssytem (ePCS). The ePCS only requires minimal changes between the fossil fuel and electric versions of the school buses. Range limits are either 80 or 100 miles, depending on the number of battery packs. With Motiv's on-board fast charging technology the buses can reach 50 percent charge in under an hour and full charge in 8 hours. The low-cost 3-phase fast charging requires minimal building modifications and no charging stations. "An electric bus can save a school district about 16 gallons (or 60.5 litres) of fuel per day, or around $11,000 (US) in fuel savings over a year, not to mention maintenance savings", said John Phraner, President of Trans Tech. In addition Motiv's technology is compatible with many battery types and brands, protecting the technology against changes in the battery market, and making the buses "the most flexible and customizable all-electric powertrain for trucks on the market", according to Motiv CEO and Founder, Jim Castelaz. Read the full article here. Source: PR Newswire via RenewEconomy