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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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1

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.

2

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)

3

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.

4

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.

5

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!

6

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.

7

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.

8

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.

9

As long as it makes the cars go faster.

10

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!

11

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.

12

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.

13

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.

14

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

15

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

16

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.

17

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 😉

18

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.

19

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.

20

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

21

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?

22

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.

23

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!

24

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.

25

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?

26

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.

27

There’s even a chance you may be alone there

28

I think you may be in a minority there..

29

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.

30

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.

31

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.

32

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.

33

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.

34

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

35

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.

36

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

37

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.

38

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.

39

>>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…

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