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Electric Cars Set for First Grand Prix

Electric cars have rounded a corner in their drive to enter the mainstream. Soon, you're going to be able to watch them race at high speeds.

The world's first fully electric Grand Prix racing series, the FIA Formula E Championship, launches this year. It will pit single-seat electric-powered racers against one another on ten center-city street courses from Beijing to Los Angeles and Miami, from Rio de Janeiro to Monte Carlo and Berlin. (See related blog post: "How Does Electric Stack Up to Gasoline on the Race Track?")

The first public demonstration of the car that all ten teams will use, the Spark-Renault SRT_01E, is set for Monday at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. A former F1 driver, Brazilian Lucas de Grassi, the official test driver for the Formula E, will be behind the wheel of the vehicle, which was built by Spark Racing Technology together with a consortium of some of the leading motorsports manufacturers, including Dallara, McLaren, Renault, Williams, and Michelin.

Continue reading at National Geographic . . .

The Growing Appeal Of Electric Cars

From redOrbit.com:

The inventor of the battery device used in General Motor’s first electric vehicle says the new allure of electric cars is speed and performance, not just fuel efficiency.

John E. Waters said at the 246th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) that recent advances in the engineering of electric vehicles are allowing the future road-dwellers to rival the speed and performance of cars developed by Porsche or BMW.

“Experimental electric cars already have achieved sustained speeds of more than 180 miles per hour, and established world speed records above 300 mph,” Waters said in a press release. “Electric cars have inherent advantages in efficiency and torque over gasoline-powered vehicles. Energy storage-to-torque on an EV platform is above 90 percent efficient, compared to less than 35 percent for internal combustion engines. I have no doubt that battery-powered race cars will be attracting race fans in the immediate future.”

Read more at redOrbit.com

Video: What's Next for Bright Automotive?

Chicago Tonight reports on the closed door for the hybrid utility vehicle

 

Bright Automotive Dies, But Ideas Remain Intact

The regrettable demise of RMI spinoff Bright Automotive is an old business story—the struggles of start-ups in tough economic times—far more than it represents a failure of Bright’s innovative business model or technology.

Bright drew interest from companies ranging from Google to General Motors, weathered the market crash of 2008, and lasted 39 months through a Department of Energy loan process before deciding to shut down. Bright, which said Tuesday it opted against private capital from China, said it received four “near final” conditional commitment letters from DOE during that time, once being told in 2010 that it would get its loan “within weeks, not months.” This loan never materialized.

Continue reading at RMI.org . . .

Indy's First Sports Strategy

Super Bowl 2012 has been called the crown jewel in Indianapolis sports strategy. Indeed, a direct line can be drawn from the Pan Am games in the 1970s and construction of the Hoosier Dome in the early 1980s to the city playing host to the world’s biggest sporting event.

Scholars, politicians, and journalists find their own sport in debating whether games lead to economic development. Yet that point was proven over a century ago when Indianapolis launched its first sports strategy: the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS).

Read more: Indy's First Sports Strategy

Battery Advances Promise New and Expanded Applications

Numerous consumer and business end uses are constrained by the performance and cost characteristics of existing battery technologies. Who would not appreciate a laptop or cell phone that could operate longer on a charge, or a hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) that could go further in its electrical mode and last 15 years without a battery replacement? What data center facility manager wouldn't jump at the chance to replace existing lead acid batteries for an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) with batteries that occupied less floor space and had greater cycle life, greater storage capacity, and greater reliability?

Read more: Battery Advances Promise New and Expanded Applications.

Thoughts on GM Volt’s Recent 'Rapid Thermal Expansion' Incident

General Motors is on its way to becoming the premier automaker in all technology related to electric vehicle safety and reliability. The recent reporting and follow-up investigation of a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) event involving a Chevy Volt (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) is the ideal catalyst for driving EV technology forward and our global understanding of safety, reliability, and cost in advanced vehicles.

It is reported that the battery of a GM Chevy Volt, damaged in a crash test, caught fire three weeks later and ignited several cars near the Volt (this all took place in a NHTSA facility). The good news here is that no human was hurt. The incident took place at a test facility where catastrophic situations are supposed to be generated. (For more on this topic see “Volt fire investigation — is it more than smoke?”)

Now, this single incident will motivate and drive some of the finest engineers in the world to become even more skilled and insightful in advancing the benefits lithium battery technology. From Newton to Edison to Dean Kamen, true inventors highlight their increased understanding of physical laws through “mistakes” as opposed to successes.

Read more: Thoughts on GM Volt’s Recent 'Rapid Thermal Expansion' Incident