Racing electric cars?: Just too funny, this seems guaranteed to stop buying electric cars
If you think the atmosphere at a Formula 1 grand prix is electric, you’re going to love the new motor sport starting next year. Formula E will see drivers racing around city-centre circuits - including London - in battery-powered electric cars. The new championship, which is backed by the FIA, motor racing’s governing body, promises cars as sexy as those driven by Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel et al, but with lithium-ion batteries and electric motors instead of fuel tanks and pistons. And, while their top speed is expected to be 155mph, slower than Formula 1, the event will compensate with exciting street circuits and brightly-lit night events. The pit stops will be different too: with the batteries running out of juice after 20 minutes, drivers won’t just change their tires, they’ll jump into new cars. The season is scheduled to start on September 13 in Beijing, with further races in the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Berlin and Los Angeles amongst others, before the final event in the centre of London on June 27 2015. . . .The WSJ just also happens to have this discussion of the Porsche 918 Spyder ($845,000, 211 mph top speed), which contains electric motors. It is amazing that the battery in this hybrid is depleted after just one lap at racing speeds.
In September the 918 Spyder development team shattered the Nürburgring production-car lap record, with a time of 6:57 minutes, a half-minute quicker—a half-minute!—than the Porsche Carrera GT. The 918 Spyder is stunning, defining, a sports car immortal with 18 miles of all-electric range that also gets an estimated 79 miles per gallon.
Except that it games the Nürburgring record. Project leader Frank Walliser explained to me that in fundamental ways—for example, the size, weight and output of the car's 6.8-kwh, 385-volt lithium battery—the car's systems were purpose-built and scaled precisely to exceed this one number on the Nürburgring's 14-mile Nordschleife track. With the car in "Hot Lap mode," it takes one Nordschleife lap to deplete the battery; after that, the roughly 660 pounds of EV powertrain becomes dead weight. . . .
This seems to violate a principle of design purity that a machine performs the same through its range of operation. The car is artificially fast on the "Ring." For me, the 918's Nürburgring lap record will always have an asterisk. . . .
Labels: electric cars