Friday, May 29, 2009

Can racing with electrical cars be exciting?

The Formula 1 has started to introduce hybrid technologies (KERS) to become more environmentally correct. And there are races for electrical cars here and there, but none of these make it really onto the front page. So, the question is, whether racing with electrical car could make sense and could be attractive. Let's look at it from different perspectives:
  1. From a spectator's perspective the lack of engine sound may be a disappointment, but from the race's dynamics point of view interesting competitions could be expected. Electrical engines are very torquee and therefore could allow for good overtaking.
  2. From a pilot's perspective, there cars could be interesting to drive and the lack of noise isn't really an issue for the driver. The type of noise might be somewhat an issue and the fact that energy saving might be an important skill and to some extent take some of the fun.
  3. From a regulator's point (i.e. the FIA) it can be assumed that defining the rules could be quite straight forward. Just ensure that everyone is using the same type of batteries and loading station (if needed), the rest could be kept fairly liberal.
  4. From a car manufacturer's perspective electrical car races will make sense as soon as there's something to be sold based on success in these races. Given Toyota, Honda, GM/Opel, BMW/Mini, Mercedes are preparing or selling hybrid and electical cars there should be some interest of these guys to start showcasing their technologies.
So, why isn't it happening? Well, one reason is, that today there's no real money behind electrical cars. Another reason is that until recently the battery capacity wouldn't have allowed for longer races and higher performance output and who would want to see a 10 minutes race with 80 km/h fast cars. But let's see, maybe we just need a bit of a kick? If racing really can help to develop street cars further then it certainly would be interesting to have a popular race series showcasing electrical cars.

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