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First Formula E race off to an electrifying start

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 [...]

Tesla removes patents to advance electric vehicle technology

"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.