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The EV Cup – the future of motorsport?
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The EV Cup – the future of motorsport?
Posted By: James Allen  |  14 Jan 2011   |  12:58 pm GMT  |  124 comments

In the last 24 hours a new initiative has been launched called the EV Cup, which is the world’s first electric vehicle championship. It will take place this year and is the start of something we are all going to have to get used to.

I’m interested in this because I’m always interested in future trends. In its statutes the FIA now has an “Electric and New Energy Championships Commission” and many of the world’s leading car manufacturers are investing heavily in EVs for the road.


It’s not surprising therefore that a group has got together to see if they can make a business out of EV Racing. They have done a deal with Creative Artists Agency to help them develop the brand, marketing, sponsorship, broadcast and so on. CAA works with sports properties like the New York Yankees and Madison Square Garden as well as managing personalities like Jack Nicklaus. Former Manchester United chief executive Peter Kenyon is part of the team.

The plan is to have races in the UK, USA, Portugal and Spain. There are plans for a race at Silverstone on 6th August, Snetterton 20th August, Rockingham 10th September, and Brands Hatch on 23rd October. Qualifying and race take place on the same day and the races will last 30 minutes.

According to the EV Cup statement, “The historic seven-race green motorsport series, the EV Cup, will include two principle classes of zero emission electric cars – the City EV cars, where drivers will compete in carbon-free, race-prepared urban THINK cars, and the Sports EV class, which will feature teams racing 185 KPH Westfield iRacers.”

The problems holding back the spread of EVs on the road are cost of batteries and worries over limited range. I really believe that if they can solve the range issue, then electric car sales will rocket.

If the EV Cup can ultimately get the manufacturers and automotive engineering companies to use racing as a test bed for development, as has been one of motorsport’s key roles since it began, it can only help the industry.

I can see this kind of thing increasing in profile and popularity, particularly if they make the racing entertaining. I might take my boys along to the race at Silverstone to have a look. But I think it will be a long time before it replaces the internal combustion engine as a prime mover of racing cars. The noise is a crucial part of racing. EVs make no noise at all and that is culturally very awkward for race fans. What the EV Cup initiative and other like it will do, however, is put the spotlight on F1 to make sure that it is evolving in the right way technologically, with energy regeneration a central part of its specification, as is planned for 2013 and beyond. Whilst not under immediate threat from it, the sport cannot afford to dismiss it either.

“We are creating an opportunity for the EV manufacturers and suppliers to promote their technologies in a new and exciting way. Green motor sport is a reality,” said Sylvain Filippi, the Director of the EV Cup.

“The EV Cup is a ground-breaking concept that creates unique marketing and sponsorship opportunities for major brand advertisers, through social responsibility programmes and other marketing initiatives,” said Peter Kenyon of CAA Sports. “We look forward to utilizing our resources across the globe in sports and entertainment to help build the EV Cup into a premier racing series and valuable advertising platform.”

The EV Cup already has some backers from the motor sport world like Ben Collins (aka The Stig) and Damon Hill.


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124 Comments
  1. DMyers says:

    You can’t have heard the interview on BBC radio yesterday morning. I don’t remember who was interviewed regarding the EV cup, but they were asked about the noise factor associated with racing cars. The guy said that when the electric racing cars are going at high speed, the ‘engine’ does make a loud noise “similar to that of a jet engine”.

  2. The other Ian says:

    Maybe they can have loudspeakers on each car, booming out V8 sounds, or the jingle of an Ice Cream van. :-D

    1. iceman says:

      Believe it or not, Lotus Engineering have done research into that sort of idea!

  3. Yeah, checked out their website – Portugal date is still TBC, I hope it’s in Estoril and not Portimão (that would mean less travelling for me personally, I’m a selfish guy 1000%).

    They can’t claim to be 100% green because the cars and drivers + media + fans will have to drive/fly to the circuit right? So there’s your carbon footprint already in place; then they’ll have to charge their batteries and energy doesn’t grow on trees as it’s produced by powerplants that use either fossil fuel or nuclear energy (primary source of which has to be disposed of and is not green at all). OK, in Europe we do have alternative sources of energy but they represent only a tiny fraction in the overall scheme of things.

    Besides, what do they do with used batteries from electric racing machinery? Where do they go? What maintenance is required? We never hear any of that. I suspect it’s not very PR-friendly.

    As a new alternative form of racing it’s interesting, seeing what the technology can do is interesting. I’ve been to races where all the vehicles were diesel-powered and made very little or no noise at all. At first it’s weird but then you get used to it and even come to enjoy it to a certain extent.

    I’d rather go with Indy Car scheme of things where they’ll have 2.2 liter six-cylinder turbocharged engines running on E85 flexible fuel – 85 per cent ethanol. Wonder what F1 engine suppliers have got against ethanol?

    1. Kirk says:

      The point of the exercise is to develop the technology. Energy is generated more efficiently at a power plant – that’s why it’s preferable to have even a dirty coal plant than to have everyone running wood stoves and heaters at home.

      I agree completely on the pollution caused by the travel, batteries and so forth. The spectators who travel to the races as well! But if the series promotes increased battery efficiency, this pollution is well worthwhile – this appears to be the future of consumer motor vehicles, so any improvements will provide widespread benefit.

      re: E85, I’ve always been under the impression that it was devised to support crop growers and remove reliance on oil imports, rather than for environmental reasons. It is pitched as environmentally friendly, but I expect that is mostly PR – if you google ‘E85 pollution’ you’ll find plenty of studies that discuss how E85 may be potentially worse than regular petrolium fuel.

      1. SteveK says:

        In simple terms, whatever you burn in an engine will produce pollution.
        E85 claims to be green(er) by offsetting emissions with CO2 capture during crop growth.
        It’d be just as green to burn petrol and grow food.

    2. Ajay says:

      Actually Indycar currently runs on E98. But don’t think it’s anything other than political. They switched to ethanol (from methanol) after pressure from the ethanol producers lobby.

      I have nothing against using ethanol as a fuel, but fuel ethanol in the US is mostly derived from corn. I think it’s inexcusable to use food crops for fuel when millions around the world have limited access to food.

      1. kowalsky says:

        it’s all marketing.
        You have to calm those ecologists, even if at the end it’s more damaging to earth. But you must show that you are trying.
        But even without sound, the smell and the danger f1 will be so exciting!!! NOT in my book.

      2. I think it’s inexcusable to pay insame amounts of money for a litre petrol and feed big oil companies/help build bad racing tracks in the middle of the desert. Bring on ethanol to Europe, that’s what I’m saying.

        People are starving everywhere and it’s not my problem, it’s caused partly by the people themselves (who passively accept such treatment) and politicans who need to gain popularity points and also show us they’re fighting something or maybe glamorous rock stars who need to sell their records/stage pretentious aid concerts. Talk is cheap, all these global problems are artificial and don’t exist as far as I’m concerned. Bread and circuses – that’s all I want.

        I suppose you pollute one way or the other with any activity but it doesn’t mean we must go nuts. All modern cars have suddenly become Eco or Blue and Green – it makes me laugh really, it’s a bad joke. It suits politicians too because they apply the so-called pollution tax to more powerful cars meaning it’s OK to drive a car with heavy CO2 emissions as long as you can afford to pay.

        Unfortunately electric vehicles are not relevant with the technology currently available, the range is not good enough and the cars are expensive. New Nissan Leaf costs more than my appartment – have a nice day Mr Ghosn, I’ll keep driving my good old Clio with carburettor, it smells so good – it smells of petrol and I enjoy sniffing it!

        If this EV Cup comes to town, I’ll pop up to check it out, I’m curious but nothing more. Electric vehicles won’t become widespread in the future, mark my words.

  4. Andy says:

    From a spectator point of view, 185kph is not fast and you have to wonder if the motor/battery combination will have enough grunt. If it’s insufficient to hang the tail out I can’t see it succeeding as a race series as you say James, the lack of noise is already a disadvantage for race fans.
    I am not against electric cars but I do object to the use of words such as ‘green’ or ‘zero emission’. How do you charge the batteries? From power stations that produce emissions or nuclear waste presumably.
    Personally I think Max Mosely had the right idea with Kers, more practicable and a sensible alternative, as are hybrids.

  5. Nathan says:

    Not green at all.

    If motorsport wants to be greener it has to figure out better ways of travelling the globe. Something like 2% of all F1 related emissions are from the actual cars themselves.

    Better planning and scheduling so that needless jaunts from one country to another would make a start.

    1. Ajay says:

      Exactly. I’ve always thought the non-European races could be split up as 3-race legs with races on consecutive weekends and 2 race European legs between the away races.

      Leg 1: Japan, China, Korea
      Leg 2: Turkey, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain
      Leg 3: India, Malaysia, Singapore
      Leg 4: Australia, Brazil
      Leg 5: Canada, USA (in 2012)

  6. Jonathan Kelk says:

    I don’t understand why electric cars are seen as being so ‘green’. Yes the cars themselves don’t produce emissions, but the power station most probably does in one form or another. Is it more effecient to burn the fossil fuels in a power station, convert the kinetic energy to electricity, transport that electricity, store it in large heavy batteries and then convert the electricity back into kinect energy again? I fail to believe that.

    1. Ben says:

      The point is that electricity can be generated through any means. The UK has enough off shore wind energy potential to generate 3 times the electricity it currently generates through nuclear and fossil fuels.

      So a car that uses electrical technology will be future proof should fossil fuels run out or become obscenely expensive, whereas an internal combustion engine will not.

      Battery powered cars probably will never be efficient unless super lightweight batteries are invented. However the hydrogen fuel cell car, which is also electric, easily has the potential to be more efficient than an equivalent petrol car.

      1. William Wilgus says:

        But it takes more energy to produce hydrogen than you get back out of it.

      2. Peter C says:

        Sorry, but your statement re. wind turbine output vs. nuclear/oil-fired power stations is incorrect.

        Interestingly, during the recent weeks of severe cold weather, wind turbines would have produced no power whatsoever because at that time….. there was no wind!

        When so many things are ‘sold’ as green, such as the EV Cup, it invariably turns out that they are not.

    2. Daniel says:

      I’m doing some research into EVs at the moment as part of my job, and EVs are roughly 10% more efficient than an internal combustion engine in total. IC engines, including the oil refinery process, waste around 80% of their energy input!

    3. Nick F says:

      Yeah, electric cars use fossil fuels to manufacture them and a percentage of the electricity to charge them is from fossil fuels. However over all they produce less CO2 than petrol cars because electric motors are more efficient than petrol engines. Also you have to factor in that a lot of electricity is used to produce oil. Finally of course a big advantage is that its possible to make electricity from either renewables or nuclear power and when you do that the amount of CO2 your pumping out really drops.

    4. Mario says:

      At the moment EVs are not much greener than conventional petrol powered ones, that’s true. However it is all about the direction things are going, thinking into the future where electricity would be produced 100% clean and everything else be either made clean or offset in carbon market. They want to create new trend and this EV racing is meant to start technology wars igniting public interest very much like we’ve seen it with conventional engines ever since they were invented. The message is to look into the future.

  7. unoc says:

    I wonder whether the 30 min time limit is due to making a short exciting race or more due to the fact that the best electric racers in the world can’t last longer than a half an hour?

    Wouldn’t it just be easier to make lots of Carbon-Fibre, enough to make it cheapish and then make cars out of that? They would drive better, be stronger (better saftey and better handling), be better on fuel economy and because it would cost more than plastic to repair would hopefully stop idiots from crashing.

    But back to racing. It is a good idea but it needs to be done properly. An electric race series could be great. But depends how it is done. If they run ultra light weight cars showing off advanced technology (verging on F1 style) but much more emphesis on technology and green power it could be a great marketing opportunity for a car marker or two willing to through some money behind it and say they are behind the COMPANYNAME EV series. The Most advanced green racing series in the world.

    But without backing it will probably fade away.

    Could be advanced and brilliant. But will probably be tesla’s with a roll cage lapping until they run out of power.

    Another subtopic:

    I wouldn’t mind an endurance green race series. No battery changing. Just 24 hours and you have to do as many laps as possible. Weather you go slower with more power onboard but then charge less or waether you can run for 10 hours, charge for 4, then run another 10. Would be interesting.

    Final off topic:

    I hope they included nonbattery electric cars. Like hydrogen, it produces a bit of power and seems very ‘normal’ so has a great chance for people to easily adapt. Would be great to see a few of them going around. And with a race series you wouldn’t have to worry about fuel pump finding either.

    Anyway, looks about as interesting as this years Bahrain GP. sigh

  8. James D says:

    “The noise is a crucial part of racing. EVs make no noise at all and that is culturally very awkward for race fans.”

    Spot on. Hearing a gentle whoosh as the electric cars go by almost silently is never going to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up hearing like an F1 car go by does.

    1. Ajay says:

      An electric motor spinning at high speed and with minimal noise damping makes more than a gentle whoosh!

      That said, you probably won’t get tyres squealing under braking. And you definitely won’t get a bellowing V engine.

      1. James D says:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gbep7vZrIZY

        Here are some electric cars at the Race of Champions. Note the silence, and some people in the crowd booing!

      2. Ajay says:

        Those are Teslas, they’re production cars. Try running showroom-ready VW Golfs, I don’t think they’d be much noisier.

        I bet purpose-built machinery would sound very different.

  9. Richard M says:

    What is the point in all this electrical car rubbish, it is just manufacturers jumping on the idea because it is a short term easy way of pretending that they are helping the environment, it is like in the 70s when people were trying to cut down on the emissions of road cars and they chose the catalytic converters because it was the easy ‘fix’. Hydrogen power is the way forward, people should be investing/researching in that not flogging this electrical car idea.

    1. MAS says:

      Hydrogen-powered cars usually ARE electric cars. It’s just that the hydrogen fuel-cell converts hydrogen into electricity, thus replacing the batteries.

      It’s important to note that batteries were always the problem with electric cars, as far back as the 1910′s! Electric motors are superior to internal combustion engines in just about every other respect. Solving the battery problem would be a huge boost to the automotive industry whatever way you do it. That said, the hydrogen fuel-cell does look like the best bet on that front.

      Combustion-engines that run on hydrogen do exist but are quite complicated, not very efficient and require advanced cooling whereas electric motors are just about the simplest thing in the world.

      Anyway, hydrogen may well be the most abundant material in the universe but it doesn’t grow on trees. Making it on earth also takes energy. The energy-crisis won’t be solved by hydrogen any more than by battery-powered cars. At least, until the guys at ITER get their act together and make us some sweet sweet fusion-power. That’ll be a few decades yet though.

      1. Richard M says:

        When I said electrical cars I meant runnning on batteries not electric motors.
        Agree that hydrogen is quite tricky to make but if you could produce it from wind-power and electrolysis then you could create enough of it at a low cost to make it work and you would not create any carbon emissions by creating or using the fuel.
        In regards to ITER and fusion power, I cannot see that happening in helping to power cars, definitely not in this century, although maybe in the future there could be a possibilty of using the fusion of hydrogen and boron-11 in powering cars because this does not produce radiation.

      2. MAS says:

        I suppose my point is that hydrogen fuel-cells aren’t much better than modern batteries but both options ought to be thoroughly examined. The EV-cup is a very very small part of that and therefore not “rubbish”. Likewise production of consumer EVs.

        Whether the breakthrough will come with cheaper hydrogen fuel-cells and more efficient hydrogen-production or with lighter, cleaner batteries doesn’t matter much because either would be good. However, neither option represents any sort of structural solution to energy- or environmental problems.

        Energy-production through wind- or solar power is also dependent on major technical breakthroughs and unprecedented investment to even make a dent in fossil fuel or nuclear dependence. Whether that energy is then used to produce hydrogen or electricity is an afterthought. Again, either will be good, it’s cost, quantity and efficiency that are the main issues.

        As for fusion, I didn’t mean to suggest we should have fusion powered cars (how cool would that be though?). It can help power electric cars with batteries AND produce hydrogen for fuel-cell cars. It is the only realistic hope of permanently ending the energy-crises we are facing and you are right: it won’t be here for ages.

      3. Nick F says:

        I think there is a race between hydrogen fuel cells and metal air batteries (lithium or zinc). I think batteries will win. They are just getting into cars now and the prices are about to go down a lot. There might even be an oversupply of lithium ion batteries this year. That’s what I’ve read anyway. Fuel cells are still expensive although less so these days. …and yeah your right about the difficulty of making hydrogen …and storing it and whatnot.

    2. Ben says:

      The most efficient form of hydrogen powered car is the fuel cell car. And that is an electric car.

  10. Kevin says:

    Spec cars?!?!?!?!? Seriously? How does that fuel development. Boring

  11. frostyxiv says:

    I’m also interested in these developments. there are some interesting high end performance cars being developed by all the big guns (Porsche, BMW, Audi, etc)
    I wonder how long it will take for the electric car to outsell the combustion engine models.?
    Clive Sinclair will have the last laugh…..

  12. Chapor says:

    I like it. A great idea. When I saw that Mercedes released it’s SLS as the E-Cell, I had a feeling that something like this was about to come forth and I am very glad it has. :-) Can only be a good thing…

  13. Joe says:

    The days when you could tell the manufacturer of an engine from it’s roar have gone (at least for me!), but why not have simlated noises for each different driver coming out of the electric car?

    You could potentially hear the order of the cars before you could see them – lengthening a spectators ‘vision’ on the race track.

  14. martin_tf says:

    Looks interesting. At the end of the day there is no reason for EV racing to be any different to what we have already in every way except the sound.

    As great as the sound of a racing car is it always comes second to the actual racing part so maybe we’ll have to get used to it a little quieter.

  15. SLVAaron says:

    The only problem I have with this is the fact that this will never be able to make the TV. No noise at all during racing, if you ask any F1 fan, not only do they love the look of the cars but they love the sound. Enough said

  16. Alex says:

    Electric cars merely extract their energy from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil in large mines instead of inside the car. If you do the math, electric cars at the moment would be so less fuel efficient and so much more expensive to run it’d be like handing our hip pockets to OPEC and letting them ruin the world as they please. This is not a feasible option as a sports class yet. In another 20 years when technology starts to catch up with our ideals, maybe. But it’s too soon on an environmental level to be doing this. Besides, no one loves silent motor-sport. The entire soul of motor-sport is getting the life sucked out of it by people who are so hellbent on ruining the deafeningly amazing spectacle that is world class motor-sport and it makes me just want to throw in the towel and spend my time watching paint dry to be perfectly frank.

    1. Rich C says:

      Mimes.

      *They would like a silent motorsport.

      And the drivers would all be required to mime their media interviews.

      It’d be awesome, and I could sleep right through it!

      1. Alex says:

        Hahaha all the driver’s helmet livery has to be white with big red spots around the cheeks and their race-suits have to be horizontal black white stripes!

  17. Stephen Hopkinson says:

    I wouldn’t be against EV racecars having some form of artificial sound generator. The sound is so important to racing that it’s simply not the same without it. They could either have systems reproducing familiar sounds (perhaps a fan-favourite, like V10 era F1) or, perhaps more sensibly, create a new sound, unique to themselves.

    Sure, people might say it’s inauthentic, but sometimes, to appear authentic, you need to add something artificial. Gravy’s only brown because you add browning, and Chicken Tikka Masala’s only red because it contains food colouring, but who’d want them any other way?

  18. Rob James says:

    The future is always going to be a contentious matter. There’s a lot of fuss surrounding whether the new 2013-spec F1 engines will appease the aural sense of racegoers. There was a lot of criticism when V8 engines replaced the V10 formula a few years back. I can only imagine the reaction if/when the internal combustion engine becomes obsolete.

    In many respects it is sad we may never relive the fury of a V12 Ferrari, a howling V10 Honda or even a howling V8 Mercedes. Then again in sportscar racing, thanks to likes of Audi and Peugeot, have made petrol powered cars in the Le Mans Series almost a novelty.

    There’s no denying there’s a great deal of pressure for motorsport to adapt to the supposed challenges that face a modern world, waste is a word many in racing a careful to avoid. The phrase ‘petrolhead’ may have to be revised in the decades to come, but that’s progress I suppose.

    1. Nick F says:

      If there was a rule in F1 that said you could make the car an EV and one car was made to be electric and won all the races, then the next year all the cars would be electric. The teams just want to win and they will use the best technology to do that. I think the shark fins needed for the F-ducts from 2010 looked terrible. An F-duct brought 0.5 secs though so you had to have one. No team refused to have one because it made their car look a bit weird.

      Some years I don’t like what the cars look like, but then magically by about 1/3rd of the way through the season I’m used to them. I think it will be the same with electric cars in motorsport. :-)

      1. Rob James says:

        That’s the thing, often F1 will set some sort of trend for how other cars will look around the world. Take the GP2 cars for example, and even LMS cars taking design cues from F1 in regards to the shark fin design. Although I do believe the shark fin is also handy aerodynamically as well as extra billboard space on the cars to sell. Fans will get used to them, it will sort out the pure fans versus the people who jump on the bandwagon purely out of nationalistic reasons if their driver happens to do well for a season or two.

      2. MAS says:

        If F1 ever goes fully electric, I hope that’s the way it happens. Not because the regulations demand it or are heavily skewed in favour of it, but simply because it was proved to be better on the track.

  19. Joris says:

    Hi James,
    Interesting article. Regarding new race series, I was wondering if you knew anything about http://a10worldseries.com ?

  20. Justin Moran says:

    Electric cars are too dangerous on track as there is very little noise. I state this form the Marshals perspective, we need to hear the vehicles coming as and when we are dealing with any incident trackside.
    I know times are a changin’ and electric vehicles are becoming more prevalent in everyday life but I feel its too early to start a full on race series for the EV’s.

    1. James Allen says:

      Interesting point of view. Thanks

      1. Paul says:

        I am sure some kind of device could easily be fitted that would make some noise. It seems like a fairly trivial problem in comparision to the challenge of developing a fully functioning electric racing car.

      2. leukocyte says:

        the other enormous issue for trackside personnel is the danger of working around a crashed, deformed electric vehicle. there are enormous unknowns with regard to potential electrical discharge and leakage of toxins at the site.

        the 2009 introduction of KERS saw mandatory use of thick rubber protection (gloves, vehicle aprons etc) for marshalls at the first few races of the season. Although reasonable in theory, these were cumbersome and created particular problems for the more intricate work required of medical and extrication teams. Lots of interesting challenges ahead.

    2. MAS says:

      Electric performance-cars are not quiet at high speed. They make sound sort of like a supercharger’s whine. For instance:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ef5amwo0fzo

      you can hear that the combined sound of the tyre-roar, air and engine isn’t that quiet though I can’t judge whether or not it’s loud enough for stewarding safety. Either way that seems like an easily worked around problem.

      A “full on race series” is not that big of a deal. A spec-series like the EV-cup or the survolt-cup is really the only way electric motorsports can get of the ground. Following up with an electric formula is going to be the real trick and will be needed if electricity is going to directly compete with internal combustion in GT, LMS or even F1.

    3. The other Ian says:

      It does raise an important point about what happens on our roads when there are loads more electric cars, with regards to Pedestrian safety.

      Those with poor eyesight and the blind, are going to have a hard time of it. I can see (no pun intended) the number of deaths and injuries going up as a result.

      1. Nick F says:

        The US congress has just past a law mandating that electric cars make a noise below a certain speed much to the annoyance of EV advocates.

        The counter arguments EV campaigners make is that there is no known case of a pedestrian being hit by an electric car because they couldn’t hear it. They also say that an EV is not especially quieter than a modern car at low speeds since they are now very quiet too. Much of the noise actually comes from the tyres and air around the car.

    4. Nick F says:

      It may be a concern, but I’m not sure. You’ll have to go to one of these events and see. It’s not true that electric cars make no noise. EVs have a motor whine as they accelerate. It’s not that loud for normal cars, but then they are designed to be quiet. If your accelerating very hard (as you would on a race track) the noise will be much greater. Also a lot of the noise a car makes comes from the tyres and the air striking the car. If you go on Youtube and take a look at some of the videos about electric cars you’ll still hear a noise.

      Take a look at this Youtube video:

      http://www.youtube.com/user/ChipYates#p/u/7/RIMQ0c7JKIU

      It’s an electric bike racing against petrol bikes and doing well. It’s actually quite loud since its revving to crazy RPMs.

      Also take a look at this Youtube vid:

      http://www.youtube.com/user/fullychargedshow#p/u/7/LfP1P-ohN-w

      It’s an electric car made by this British guy
      and is ridiculously loud. I believe in this case it’s because the electric motor is driving the wheels through some kind of belt driven transmission, but still the point stands that electrics can be loud.

      You may have a point and If it did prove dangerous of course they could add artificial noise, although I wouldn’t favour that.

    5. ja9ae says:

      If Chip Yates’ 200hp electric superbike is anything to go by, I don’t think electric cars will be that quiet in “race spec”.

      http://www.youtube.com/user/ChipYates

    6. Rich C says:

      You’d have to put cop sirens on them, to be actuated electronically when 1 second behind the… oh, wait… I mean electronically from Race COntrol.

      Or better yet they could just be switched off and allowed to coast to a stop until the debris was cleared.

  21. DonSimon says:

    Formula Zero is still a long way off, but this is a good step in the right direction. Good luck to the formula and I hope to get to see a race somewhere soon. Good job they’re not solar powered, no chance of it being sunny for a full race at S’Stone in Aug!

    1. Elliot says:

      +1

      Perfect comments. We’re F1, but we have to embrace new technologies and good people working on new ways to entertain us!

  22. MAS says:

    This particular cup isn’t looking very interesting to me but that is mainly because I don’t like spec-series, not because it’s electric. However it’s always good to see new technology being developed, though in the end it has to actually be better.

    I’m not interested in electric racing for it’s own sake, just as I am uncomfortable with the idea that top-level racing series use internal combustion engines just because they are loud and cool. On the highest level, the bottom line, or rather the stopwatch, should speak loudest. Though in reality safety, the interests of the sport and common sense will always dilute the ideal approach of course.

    What I’d really like to see is engine-regulations open up a bit so that different solutions can go head to head. Like in the twenties when huge Bentleys went up against nimble Alfas and Bugattis and like Indy 500 in the late 60s when turbine cars went up against internal combustion.

    After electric racing has had some time to come into its own with series like the EV-cup it would be good to see F1 (or perhaps LMS) allow some more diversity for a while. If they’d regulate only the amount of energy to be used (in kilojoules or whatever) and let the engineers go to town we’d see some real innovation. Sure it’d be expensive but F1 teams will always spend idiotic amounts of money anyway and this way it would get spent on something with a wide application, which in turn means that manufacturers will more willing to invest. V12s versus turbos versus wankels versus electric anyone?

    This would be good because technologically F1 is starting to stagnate. Aero-development and creative interpretation of the rules are the most important differentiating factors in car performance. It has slowly been morphing into an expensive spec-series. For now that’s not all that bad for the sport, with the grid bunched up closer than ever. But it will make the sport seem more and more artificial over time. The new rear wing rules don’t bode well in that regard.

  23. rvd says:

    What makes “EV” green? It appears 75 to 80 percent of the worldwide production of electricity is generated with fossil fuels (http://www.unesco.org/water/wwap/wwdr/indicators/pdf/H6_Electricity_generation_by_energy_source.pdf). With inefficiency of production I don’t see this as major step forward. Not much interest for me.

    1. Rich C says:

      The only “green” racecar is the one sitting in the garage that never goes anywhere.

      They want “green” they should just abolish autoracing and go back to horses.

    2. J says:

      I think most people are sick of this same argument being posted over and over and over again in this same thread.

      Can we just leave it as read that some people don’t understand that a diesel generator ticking away at the same RPM all day runs more efficiently than a car in stop start traffic?

  24. Justin Lewis says:

    Hi James,

    The organising fella on the radio yesterday reckoned that at high speed (up to 240 kph) the EVs sound like jet engines. As far as he was concerned there was plenty of noise to get excited about. Seemed a bit strange, maybe he was just bigging it up for publicity.

    Anyway, the series sounds like a good idea, but I do wonder how many will be on the grid for the first go.

  25. Stefanos says:

    Current cars (and batteries) are too heavy to be efficient. Motosport should prove a good development arena for more efficient EVs (as it has for all other vehicles), so, unless this is a fund-raising PR exercise, it is a great idea. Much will depend on the regulations and restrictions that the series imposes on competitors. I should expect the FIA under Todt to facilitate the effort, if the series requests the FIA’s involvement. They will have to get the balance right between freedom to innovate and relative harmonization of the formula.

  26. Jim says:

    How silent are electric racing cars? I recall a few years back hearing a story about a roadgoing supercar which failed noise tests even with the engine off, just due to tyre noise.

    Instead of screaming engines, maybe we’d be able to hear squealing tyres :-)

    1. Jost says:

      If you want to know, how Electric Racecar sound, do a Videosearch for “Formula Student Electric”. It’s not F1 but it will give you an idea.
      For our Nightrace we played music to compensate for the lack of noise. For FSE it was fun, but i couldn’t imagine it for a real Racing series.

      Jost

      1. kowalsky says:

        or just do some other thing during the races. And once in a while check it to see who is winning.
        And at the end of the race, when the tv and radio stations all over the world repeat how exciting the race was, everybody would be sure that they saw the event of the decade. And come back home happy after having spent 1000 euros for the event.

  27. iceman says:

    I’m sure the TTXGP people will take issue with the claim to be “the world’s first electric vehicle championship.”

    1. MK_Chris says:

      I’m very much with you Iceman: although a few laps around the TT course is not strictly a multi-race championship.

      The reaction to the TTXGP races produced great enthusiasm from the riders with quotes along the lines of “the most fun for ages / most fun with clothes on, etc.”.

      The many spectators showed massive interest and enthusiasm with many a shout of much more please.

      I am all for the tradition of “if it is a prime mover then let’s race it”. I believe that the negative comments in some of the replies are repeats from previous anti-brigade types; probably ever since Og and Ug first raced their new fangled wheel. Helpful others of course made their major contribution by arguing what colour the wheel should be, (NB. with full acknowledgements to Douglas Adams).

      1. iceman says:

        They actually ran 3 championships last year – North America, UK and Europe – with about 10 or a dozen meetings between them. Apparently they had TV coverage in the UK on ESPN, so that would explain why no-one noticed :)

  28. chris says:

    As a fellow Marshal I feel that this is going to happen whether we like it or not, a change in working practices may be called for. I guess they will still have rubber tyres which for me is the main indicator that all is not how it should be.

  29. Mike says:

    Fuel cells are the way to go, not rechargable batteries. And the cars don’t HAVE to be silent – they could always play an MP3 of a nice big V8….;)

  30. Mosq says:

    My concerns are batteries recycling and ecological impact of electricity generation – do car manufacturers think about it?

    1. Glen says:

      I was listening to radio4 the other day. They discussed, potentially in the future setting up renewable energy sources at race tracks, such as wind turbines. Then running the race cars off the electricity generated.

      I think the carbon used to transport the series around the globe could be offset by supporting local social and environmental schemes.

      There would be an impact from higher demand of car batteries and increase in production of more toxic substances.

  31. Paul says:

    It always baffles me why they call electric cars “clean”. They may not emit any greenhouse gases while they are moving, but they still have to be re-charged using electricity generated in power stations burning gas, oil, or coal!

    1. Henry says:

      They also have to be manufactured out of very energy intensive materials, and the batteries they require are hugely expensive and not at all ‘eco-friendly’ whatever that means.

  32. Peter Freeman says:

    Insanity continues!

  33. Alexis says:

    A silent race series?

    Sounds pretty dull!

  34. Peter Freeman says:

    Ok I need to say more I know.

    This is all about the utterly fraudulent “Global warming” which is based on quite literally nothing what so ever!

    The science behind it is in fact not science at all and the chief target, CO2, is not a pollutant or in any way causing anything that is affecting anyone negatively anywhere!

    The worst part of all of this is that not only is the world cooling, but that cooling is accelerating. Does it not strike anyone as irony that even the picture of the ‘EV cup’ car is standing on a snow covered track?

    The world has gone mad and EVERYONE is standing around ans just watching!

    1. Terry Shepherd says:

      Peter, you are right, I have been saying this for ages. The world goes through these cycles, we had an Ice Age 11,000 years ago, did anyone write to the papers about a bit of global warming then?

      Iberian MPH said it all, in an earlier post.

      1. Rich C says:

        Not sure what your point is, Nick, but I like the maps.

        I find it somehow comforting to know that even in the 1870′s we had satellite maps of the world showing temps to within a tenth of a degree.

      2. Peter Freeman says:

        I take it you did not notice that those maps were produced using a formula created by Hansen?

        What you are looking at there is not a simple recording of temperatures which are then added up, averaged and displayed, in other words you are not looking at actual temperature reading on those maps. No, what they are showing is data that has been captured, ‘processed’ and THEN displayed! There us another word for this its called manipulation.

        Hansen was involved in the infamous ‘Hockey Stick’ graph, a graph Al Gore touted on his Inconvenient Truth movie, perhaps you are familiar with it. As it turns out that graph, displayed to the world and accepted as ‘science’ was a total fraud and contained no scientific truth what so ever! Hansen and his colleagues never apologised or even commented on their fraud.

        Now here we see NASSA using Hansen’s formula’s again, a discredited scientist known for manipulating data that cannot be trusted. Why…?

        In the mean time despite real science showing that the SUN has been by far and above all else the primary cause of all the earth’s temperature fluctuations and that the SUN is now cooling and likely to cool for another few decades, and despite people digging themselves out from vast amounts of unusually heavy snow, winter after winter, the lie of Global Warming continues to prosper!

        So believe the pretty maps and pay your carbon tax!

    2. Relativity says:

      So you think that if you remove 7 billion humans, millions of cars/trucks/planes, all the petrochemical factories from this planet, it will have no effect? None?

      The reality is that humans are causing a real and measurable imprint on this planets biosphere.

      1. Peter Freeman says:

        If people were to cease to exist all kinds of pollution would stop, deforestation would stop, over fishing would stop along with a host of other effects we have on nature.

        However the lack of our tiny contribution to the level of co2 in the air would not have much effect with the possible exception of a tiny amount of warming and a very little less for plants to consume.

        Why would it get cooler? Well if you did not know, Oxygen has a greater ‘green house’ property than CO2, so the more Oxygen that is converted to CO2, the cooler it gets, very very very fractionally. This effect is enhanced by the fact that CO2 is 1.5 times heavier than air, and sinks back to earth and does not gather in the upper atmosphere where its very small ‘green house’ properties could potentially cause and ‘warming’ if it were not displacing Oxygen.

        So you are quite right, we are affecting the planet, just not with CO2.

  35. John Schell says:

    James
    Our company is in pursuit of this very program here in the states
    I would enjoy havin some discussions regarding your future with the sport and our common ground
    Please call our office number to help us help you with your vision!
    Thanks

    John

  36. Darren says:

    Im all for new forms of racing, but, as you allude to, I feel one of the major things that people love about motor racing is the sound, which of course would be lost.

    Another thing is the whole idea that electricity is green. Electricity is only green if it comes from renewable sources.

    If the power being used comes from a dirty great coal power plant then the overall efficiency is actually less than an internal combustion engine burning petrol.

    Theres no doubt the motor industry will have to look for new technologies, and there is no faster way to develop technology than by competition (look what racing did for the IC engine 100 years ago, what war did for aerospace technology etc).

    I think they are possibly trying too hard to be seen as “green” and “responsible” which seems to carry a lot of political clout at the moment. Im all for new stuff but dont think this is the right track, after all there is nothing new about an electric motor.

    1. Glen says:

      The loss of sound from racing could be positive. It could potentially increase the input from the fans during events. The good thing about the Silverstone F1 race is the fans and the noise they make. Motor races in the future may become more like football matches, with a greater sense of atmosphere.

      1. Rich C says:

        >>increase the input from the fans during events.<<

        Excellent! We can have cheering sections chanting for their favs, and bands and cheerleaders prancing about… yesss I can see it now: the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders…

  37. Seán Craddock says:

    There will be races in the US, Spain, Portugal…

    Sounds like a lot of travel especially to the US, there’s still going 2 b a lot of fuel burnt getting everythig to the different tracks!!

    They need to start small like just a UK series until the sport develops

  38. Richard says:

    I heard an interview with Sylvain Filippi on Radio 4 yesterday morning where he explained that the racing cars actually make a great deal of noise; he described the noise as being similar to a gas turbine. Their speed and acceleration performance are pretty handy too.

  39. Phil Bishop says:

    will there be a 7 hour gap between races to allow for recharging ;o)

  40. jonrob says:

    Three things spring to mind:
    1) They should be using fuel cells run on hydrogen or natural gas and not batteries.
    2) Here is the real platform for KERS, in F1 KERS is a misnomer since energy is not recovered from the braking effort, whereas an electric vehicle has the potential do do this properly.
    3) Anyone who has stood next to a working 300BHP electric motor will know that it is anything but quiet.
    4) How long before the FIA claim they have authority over all electric racing?
    BTW I am in the middle of reading the Stig’s book, excellent, stuff, just reached Hammond’s mega crash.
    5) A whole new era of aero, construction and design rules to come!
    6) I can’t count.

  41. Warwick says:

    If anyone has driven an electric go-kart, you’ll find that a) there is plenty of sound and b) the instant torque and linear acceleration make for quite an exciting driving experience. Would love to see one of those Westfield iRacers.

  42. Charles says:

    OK, so electric cars in isolation are not necessarily green, but when (not if, the world has no choice) most electric energy is being generated in a sustainable way, EV’s will make lots of sense. In the meantime, competition will be an excellent way of developing the necessary technology. However, it will need to be a formula with wide open rules to stimulate development – none of this spec formula stuff that has taken over nearly all forms of modern motor racing.

  43. Chris says:

    I’m surprised by all of the comments about “noise” being essential to the motor racing experience. It’s one of the things I’ve always disliked about the sport. It reminds me of the jerk at a stoplight who tries to impress everyone by revving his engine. I don’t particularly like the prospect of having my hearing ruined as a spectator.

    1. James Allen says:

      I think you may be in a minority there..

      1. Flakey says:

        Maybe in a minority, but there a few of us out there. I think it applies more to TV though than live. Except for brief parts, when they do the pit pre race interviews, the noise is very muted, to a background rumble, I would hardly miss it if it was not there to be honest.

      2. kowalsky says:

        but think about it. You just need 1 million of those to fill all f1 race tracks during a year.
        And the rest up to 200 mill will watch it on tv. We don’t hear much sound there anyway.
        It’s sad, but it can happen in a not very long time, to a point that combustion engine racing could be even banned. Just to save the world.
        Like smokers today, race fans would be kind of outlaws.

    2. Mario says:

      There’s even a chance you may be alone there

  44. Guy says:

    I’m surprised that James appears to be so ignorant of the massive limitations of EV’s.This new ‘racing’ class is just PR I’m afraid.The problems with EV’s remain huge and as several posters have already stated are in fact very inefficient. Until the next generation of battery has been invented( which will be many years) then a limited range, carbon unfriendliness and moderate performance with precious little torque is the limit of what anyone can expect.EVERYTHING else is just manufacturers with vested interests spinning and telling half truths.The same ( for now) actually applies to hydrogen vehicles, though the industry does expect this form of energy propulsion to be the solution.. but not for 20 years or so.Finally on a more bizarre note regarding the ‘noise’ situation…the authorities here in the US has ordered some manufacturers of EV vehicles to add realistic noise into the ECU package so the blind can hear vehicle coming! Perhaps a red flag might do… and we’ve come full circle!

    1. James Allen says:

      Oh well, let’s just give up then, shall we? No point in wasting time trying to innovate or pioneer. Let’s just stay home and do nothing.

      1. chris says:

        Hmmm, I do see to remember that turbos didn’t work that well when they were first introduced – good for recycling though – lots of small pieces of expensive metals, does that make them green?

  45. Gold Loaf says:

    I wish good luck for the new series. Due to possible capacity problems, I was expecting more like race of champions format, with very short attractive sprints instead of 30 min races. But hey, it means they must be serious about it!

    I have heard that batteries contain rare metals and many hazardous materials.
    Now when F1 is heading back to battery powered KERS systems, are they going to show the way on possible recycling ways as well?
    Today we have restrictions for number of engines per season. Was it ever considered to apply that kind of restrictions to KERS systems too, especially to the batteries?
    Could you comment on that, James?

    Many seem to complain about lack of noise here.
    I think it would be fantastic to watch racing and listen to birdsong at the same time. Cars with wheels thin like pizza whispering by at 200 mph, heading to Eau rouge… hopefully my eyes are going to see that one day.
    To be realistic,an electric motor can make noise too, it simply does not sound that mighty, I must admit.

    I see electric vehicles as possible saver for classic racing circuits. As long as these cars remain slower, there is no need for huge tarmac runoff every corner.
    If the noise levels would come down, there would be less opposition from locals living near to circuit.

    1. James Allen says:

      Good question. I never considered that, but I’ll ask. I think probably not at this stage. May come later once the system is perfected

      1. F1 Pete says:

        I could be wrong, but i have heard that disposing of the batteries etc ends up being more of an environmental hazard than the carbon emmissions we currently live with. Can any one provide some more technical colour on this theory?

      2. J says:

        Lithium is atomic weight three making it the lightest metal which makes it less toxic than so called “heavy metals” like lead. It’s also fairly expensive to purchase which makes it desirable for companies to recycle it.

        For example most plastic pop bottles (made from oil) are just shredded and bailed up to be stored. There is little market to sell the material because the end product isn’t nearly as good as plastic made from scratch. A ton of plastic is only worth $20 USD. Only about 24% of plastic bottles actually get recycled and turned into anything.

        To contrast metals are easy to melt down and recycle. Aluminum is worth over $2000 USD per ton, lithium is worth over $6000 per ton. You can see how money can more easily be made by recycling metals.

  46. Green Schmeen says:

    I personally would like to see this, but not because of the bogus ‘green’ argument they give. Who actually buys that, seriously?

    Anyone who studies the true agenda behind these things knows it is all about money. The ones in power know oil will run out one day, i.e. they won’t be able to make money out of it.

    So they introduce a new much ‘better’ way, which they also will control and provide for a lot of money. The ‘green’ argument they use, they could not care about (the production and maintanence and disposal of batteries alone is more toxic and damaging to nature than burning of fossil fuel is). It is just a way to introduce it to the masses and make them think it is necessary for that reason. So in the long run they will have something to sell to the people en masse.

    At the moment electricity is cheaper to drive on yes (excluding the purchase cost), but in 10 years it will be as expensive as petrol, probably more. They will make sure of that through the usual ‘legal’ pyramid schemes these people leech off on ;)

    1. jonrob says:

      Nice to know that someone else appreciates that the CO2 released in manufacture is greater with electric cars than petrol powered. Not to mention the many other nasty chemicals involved.
      The greenest thing the planet can do is to stop building new cars altogether, especially electric and hybrids and carry on driving our old cars, which, driven for the next 20 years will release less CO2 than just the build of a new one without driving it anywhere.

  47. murray says:

    There’s a series for electric GP bikes. At the moment, it attracts those who want to participate in it, who drag their mums along. To make tea.

  48. Rich C says:

    will they have playing cards attached to the spokes with clothes pins?

  49. Mario says:

    How do I cast my vote on this twit poll thing anyone, please?

  50. Jon says:

    I think I am one of the rare ones who would prefer to see racing cars, be the LAST cars to transfer over to electric. In other words, if the world enforced a ban on internal combustion engines, I would hope racing cars like F1 would be the last to go.

    On a similar subject, I don’t get how racing marketting transfers over the road cars so well. I think it’s silly. You see a Ferrari win in F1, so you go and buy a Ferrari and then drive it around at 60kph 90% of the time? Because it makes you feel tough, or the cool image it portrays? Which is more important?

    Luxury road cars have a speedometer that goes up to 300kph, and is driven below 100kph 99% of the time.

    What’s more important, the ability to drive at 300kph and the ability to spin the wheels in 4th gear on the streets, or on a race track?

    Number one goal on the streets for road cars should be space (depending on you or your family), manouvreability and fuel effeciency and safety and the goals for a race track are completely different. Peak performance isn’t required on the streets, where as it’s essential in a racing circuit.

    If we were all forced to drive electric cars, I think we’d manage. I can’t imagine every enjoying electric racing though. Maybe some series would be okay, but for F1, it wouldn’t be F1 anymore.

    What I am talking about will never happen though, but it’d be nice if it could.

    I do enjoy watching Top Gear, but from a racing/engineering point of view, not from a “I’m so cool if I could drive that car at 60kph all the time” point of view.

    1. Jon says:

      If you had enough money to use an electric car on the streets and in the city, and then have a Ferrari in the garage and use it only on race tracks, I’d say good luck to you. It just seems like the whole world could gain something by making a seperation between economy and performance vehicles and driving them on the streets. Hopefully leaving racing intact.

      In an F1 weekend, they only use a fraction of the fuel used on the streets everyday. I believe the most fuel F1 consumes is in the travelling from country to country via air. They use HUGE amounts of fuel in airliners. But I don’t think we will be seeing electric airliners any time soon.

  51. Luke says:

    I think it’s a brilliant idea. I think electric cars (with the exception of Hydrogen powered cars) are completely stupid. And the reason is they just don’t work. The BBC News website have a feature up about one of their reporters taking an ‘epic journey’ in an electric car from London to Edinburgh.

    They’re slow, their range is rubbish, and what would be a 5 minute top up in a petrol car is a 3 hour top up in an electric.

    But that’s why I’m supporting of EV Racing, because motorsport is the perfect platform for research, development, and innovation. Who knows? Maybe initiatives like this will end up saving us from Climate Change!

    1. I listened to that feature, it took him four days to make the journey but at least he did make it. The battery technology is getting better all the time, though. We’re apparently three years away from seeing an electric car that can be charged up to 80% capacity in 20 minutes. That’ll be a real game changer.

  52. Eamonn says:

    As long as it makes the cars go faster.

  53. F1 Pete says:

    Simple answer is YES, this is where motoring is heading so it is only logical that motorsport should take the lead in terms of development. Unfortunately i think F1 may have been a bit slow on the uptake of the new technology but F1 has more than enough branding and marketing on its side to remain the premier motorsport category while it catches up on the technology side. F1 take note..electric super cars not far from rolling off the production line. Case in point – Porsche.

  54. Rich C says:

    I did some EV racing once. We had a great time, at least the parts I remember. The other golfers were all very understanding, and quite amused. We *might have been drinking, but I dont remember that part.

  55. Fnordsrus says:

    I sadly believe it is a given that we will have to wean ourselves off of the racing internal combustion engine. As to what will replace remains to be seen and indeed heard. Their are lots of comments on the noise or rather the lack of noise with E.V. Faux engines noises or MP3′s whilst laudable as a suggestion just appear to me as a cheap quick gimmick. However I am sure that something noisy can be made utilising aerodynamic pieces. If it worked for the Stuka dive bomber then surely it could be worked into Formula EV. I can already hear the resistance to a mandatory drag inducing device but lets face it, ” The change is upon us” Let us all embrace it and pool our ideas together.

  56. Alex says:

    I suppose all the cars could just have ice cream truck speakers on top of the roll bar playing Green Sleeves, and who knows, maybe Mr. Whippy will even sponsor one of the teams!

  57. TheWon4 says:

    It doesn’t matter how many people are supportive of electric racing. All that matters is the brass tax–how many people give up their hard earned leisure time to watch it.

  58. ja9ae says:

    The mention of “green” always brings out the wing-nuts doesn’t it? No big thing made in a factory can ever be green.

    Direct electric drive, no matter where the power comes from, is surely better for powering cars than our current reliance on this industrial revolution era technology petrol engines?

    The amounts of torque available from electric motors I’d have thought should be exciting us racing fans surely? Like turbo’s the technology will advance & racing will only make it advance quicker.

    Also, for the electric = CO2 therefore no better than petrol crowd. Don’t forget the petrol requires an enormous amount of electricity to make, and is transported in a ship and a truck before we even pump it (with electricity) into our cars.

  59. Mark V. says:

    Change, the one constant. Well, no, there’s one other constant: bellyaching about change.

    Electricity: It’s here to stay folks, so you can now safely retire your candles, kerosene lamps and ice boxes.

    But seriously, how come the whiners never mention that electric motors are vastly superior to combustion engines? Granted, batteries are heavy and take a long time to charge but why assume that will always be the case?

    Or why assume that batteries will even be used at all in the future? A large scale electromagnetic induction grid similar to the grid that charges cell phones and toothbrushes seems to have potential. (Legend has it Nikola Tesla was onto something like that 100 years ago)

  60. ElSecundo says:

    To really get it off the ground, FIA should add an all-electric Formula 2 class to their F1 races. F1 and F2 used to race together, it might be time to do it again.

    F1 fields aren’t that big, so adding a small field of electric cars might be a good idea.

    Fans would also get the F1 sound while watching the race, which could help to get fans used to the electric cars.

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