March 14, 2015

Formula E Racing Comes to U.S.: The first all-electric open wheel racing series, Formula E, made its United States debut Saturday in Miami. It's the fifth race of the series' inaugural season. The cars are completely battery powered -- there are no combustion engines -- and they emit a high-pitched whir instead of the roar typically heard in auto racing. There are also no pit stops during the race. Instead of running out of gas, the Formula E cars run out of battery about halfway through the 39-lap event. Before that happens the drivers must make it to the pit area where, instead of swapping batteries, they hop into an entirely different car.

posted by rcade to auto racing at 06:21 PM - 6 comments

Another form of BORING Racing, start out strong and barely moving at the end. The changing cars halfway through just proves that electric cars will never work unless you have a regular car also. Drive your local commutes everyday but if you want to take a trip forget it. A waste of money in racing.

posted by ic23b at 01:48 AM on March 15

The changing cars halfway through just proves that electric cars will never work unless you have a regular car also.

Drive your local commutes everyday but if you want to take a trip forget it.

That's the kind of thing that buggy owners said about gas-powered "automobiles" over 100 years ago. If you really think this is the be-all-end-all of battery tech, then you're probably going to be very surprised in the (near) future.

posted by grum@work at 02:08 AM on March 15

Virtually all technologies are a waste of money in their infancy. It's called early adoption. And then you end up with the iPhone 6.

posted by jmd82 at 11:46 AM on March 15

Among other things, electric vehicles were/are a novel form of population control. When my mother was a young girl, Baker Electric cars roamed the streets as a dignified alternative means of motorized transport for women of noble bearing and a fair number of people got run over and killed by them because they never heard them coming and didn't get out of the way.

The lesser engineered electric cars of the day also sparked, caught fire, and/or delivered voltage directly to the operator. All in the name of avoiding the dangers and unpleasant issues associated with liquid fueled internal combustion vehicles. And the boiler security issues of steam powered cars.

(I almost got taken out in a service alley recently by a Prius rigged for silent running. I've seen cyclists involved in a few close calls.)

posted by beaverboard at 02:40 PM on March 15

In China, you're allowed to ride electric scooters in the bike lane. In many cities, pedestrians share the bike lane, too.

They sneak up on you,don't they? Ouch.

posted by owlhouse at 09:29 PM on March 15

The changing cars halfway through just proves that electric cars will never work unless you have a regular car also.

Drive your local commutes everyday but if you want to take a trip forget it.

That's the kind of thing that buggy owners said about gas-powered "automobiles" over 100 years ago. If you really think this is the be-all-end-all of battery tech, then you're probably going to be very surprised in the (near) future.

Electric vehicles at this point in their development are not quite there as a replacement for the internal combustion engine (ICE). Range and refueling (charging) times do not compare favorably. The hybrid vehicle offers the best compromise between fully electric and fully ICE. Admittedly, Tesla has come close to a practical fully electric vehicle, but is not quite there yet. Battery technology has been in development for over a century, but until the last quarter century or so there was little progress. When newer materials for battery production were introduced, batteries got a lot better. The lithium-ion (LIon) device is now a standard, but other than incremental improvements to the LIon battery, nothing of great importance seems to be on the horizon.

Having said that, the technology that might make all-electric vehicles not just practical but preferable is in a stage of development that might be ready to break out. I am speaking of higher-temperature super conducting materials. These materials offer low resistance paths for the conduction of electricity when temperatures are held higher than those usually associated with super-conduction, that is temperatures of liquid nitrogen or lower. Private industries are working with carbon fiber, weaving it into transmission cables. The technology has great importance for the transmission of electricity over distance, and if used for the windings of electric motors, it could improve their efficiency as well.

In short, batteries are not the wave of the future, but there are other things that might make the present state of the art battery suitable to be the fuel source for all-electric vehicles.

posted by Howard_T at 11:55 PM on March 16

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