Thursday, March 28, 2013

2013 eRoadRacing World Cup (replaces TTXGP/e-Power) provisional calendar now available

The electric motorcycle racing world finally gained some clarity with the release of a provisional schedule for the FIM eRoadRacing World Cup.  This new series is replacing both the TTXGP and FIM e-Power series.  Both of those series are now deceased, and eRoadRacing World Cup takes their place. 

The plan to replace both TTXGP and e-Power with a new series was announced on March 5, 2013.  At that time further details were expected to be announced shortly, leaving the teams and others getting more and more anxious as the days ticked by

That wait has come to an end with the release of the provisional calendar for the 2013 eRoadRacing season:

The calendar is pretty skimpy, but of course the rationalization is that it's being released late in the season.  That is, as each day ticks by with no agreement to release further details, the organizers have fewer and fewer options.  Note that there are to-be-confirmed items, and that additional dates could be added.  The World Final race is due to be held in Asia but that date and location is to-be-confirmed.

Did you notice the word "Provisional"?  Good.  This is clearly a provisional calendar ;-) but I suspect that the North American dates are firm except for the possible fourth date.

The choice of the venues are in part because, it being an FIM series, the event must be held at an FIM-homologated track (I sure hope I have that correct, or I might get another lecture from someone at the FIM about accuracy).  North America has very few such tracks, limiting the choices.

The new site is going to be - I checked, and WHOIS shows that name registered to TTXGP Ltd.  At the moment it's just showing a parking page, but we should expect a site launch .. er .. soon?  One hopes?

The last thing I'll note is that this provisional calendar does nothing to settle the open questions I'd listed in an earlier post (see links above).  It settles us on the name and some of the dates, but leaves other questions open.


Zero Motorcycles and Hollywood Electrics teaming up on Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

2013 Zero S
Zero Motorcycles and Hollywood Electrics has given the production electric motorcycle class at the 2013 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb a big boost of support. The two companies announced today they were partnering to participate in the PPIHC on June 30, 2013, in Cascade, Colo. Hollywood Electrics will be entering a few bikes in the event, with technical support from Zero Motorcycles.

This year is the first time a production electric motorcycle class has raced the PPIHC. While a few electric bikes have made the run in previous years, they were all conversion bikes rather than production bikes. As we saw with the 2012 TTXGP series, that was the first year where production electric motorcycles could credibly race. At the 2012 Portland TTXGP race, the 2012 Zero S's ran against a grid of 250cc gas bikes, performed well, but were proved to be slightly slower as they fell behind a little each lap. The 2013 Zero S/DS bikes are dramatically more powerful, thanks to a better motor, should do very well in the whatever-the-series-is-to-replace-TTXGP-and-e-Power, and do well on Pikes Peak.

As we noted a few weeks ago, several electric cars and electric motorcycles are running the PPIHC this year.  Entries in the production electric motorcycle class include:-
  • Aaron Frank, Editor of Motorcyclist magazine, who has 15 years of competitive roadracing experience and has shown an increasing interest in electric motorcycles over the last several years
  • Jeremiah Johnson who, as we noted a couple weeks ago, is an AMA Pro racer, has run in a few TTXGP races, and will be riding his own 2013 Zero S, customized in partnership with Hollywood Electrics
  • Brandon Nozaki Miller, who is racing a customized 2012 Zero S on which he set a land speed record last year, is racing this year in the M1GP and other club racing events, and is working his way towards having an AMA racing license while never having ridden a gas bike
  • Jeff Clark has participated in the San Felipe 250, Baja 500 and 1000 and will be riding his own modified 2013 Zero FX.
  • Nathan Barker hails from Australia and is looking forward to his first professional road race to the top of Pikes Peak aboard his own 2013 Zero FX.

“We are breaking new ground with electric motorcycle racing; it’s the involvement and competition between the teams and riders that makes it fun. We’ve put together a great team of riders from various motorsports backgrounds and skill levels. It will be interesting to see how each combination of rider and bike tackles the Peak,” said Harlan Flagg of Hollywood Electrics. “At such an early stage of competitive electric racing, the low cost of entry makes it appealing as even the stock bikes are very competitive and there is little maintenance and incidental costs, a significant consideration for racers on a budget. We intend to show fans, other racers and the public at large that it is easy to get involved in one way or another.”

Monday, March 25, 2013

Team Icon Brammo releases shots of team livery ahead of 2013 racing season

On Monday, Team Icon Brammo released images of the new livery (designed by Icon) that Steve Atlas and Eric Bostrom will be wearing during the 2013 season.  The information release includes detailed pictures of not just the Empulse R, but the Empulse TTX, and shows both bikes in action dicing it up with gas bikes at the Thunderhill Raceway.   However, the Shelina Moreda fans may become disappointed because even though she spent a lot of time testing the Empulse RR and TTX over the winter, she is not listed as a Team Icon Brammo team member.

Here's the static view:-

Steve Atlas' 2013 Empulse RR

Eric Bostroms' 2013 Empulse RR
The two designs are named:  ‘Sauvetage’ (Atlas) and ‘Big Game’ (Bostrom).  We see below that Brian Wisman calls the design Cheetah and Zebra.

For the 2012 season, Team Icon Brammo's bikes had what they're calling the “Stack” livery.  Can you tell that the main business of team sponsor, ICON, is designing gear for motorcycle riders?

Steve Atlas

Eric Bostrom

Eric Bostrom on the Empulse TTX
Eric Bostrom, Empulse TTX again
Eric Bostrom, Empulse TTX

Steve Atlas - Empulse RR
Eric Bostrom - Empulse RR

Brian Wismann, Director of Product Development for Brammo said; “The Brammo racing team is stoked to be working with Icon again this season as a primary sponsor for the Empulse RR bikes that will be campaigned by Eric Bostrom and Steve Atlas in the FIM/TTXGP electric motorcycle racing series and in the AFM race series. Icon was a great partner in 2012 and their willingness to “push the limits” in design, aesthetics, and functionality of the gear they develop has made them a perfect fit for Brammo and the pioneering spirit of driving EV technology forward on the racetrack. We got a ton of positive feedback on the “Stack” graphic that debuted on Steve’s World Championship winning Empulse RR in 2012, and can’t wait to see what people think of the 2013 Zebra and Cheetah! “

The press release was all about what the bikes look like, and light on technical details. It does confirm that Steve Atlas and Eric Bostrom will race with Team Icon Brammo in 2013.  We've been watching Brammo post galleries every couple weeks of testing at Thunderhill, and noted that Atlas was in none of those galleries while Shelina Moreda was in every one.  We've suggested before not to read too much into Atlas' absence at the testing events, and perhaps we shouldn't read too much into Moreda's absence from the team roster.

The technical details are that the fairing design is not just different graphics, but "improved" presumably meaning a bit more aerodynamic.  That and the bikes will have increased power and energy capacity.  But we expected the latter, and we're anxiously looking forward to see what 2013 will bring from Brammo.  During 2012 the Brammo Boys were hitting 170 miles per hour in race conditions at Daytona.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Buckeye Current team from OSU plans to break the ton at TT ZERO

A student team at The Ohio State University, the Buckeye Current team, is getting ready to run at the 2013 TT ZERO. The team has a small budget, and a goal to build the fastest collegiate entry in the TT ZERO. Specifically, they want to Break The Ton (a 100+ miles/hr lap).  That goal was first met in the 2012 TT ZERO when MotoCzysz and Mugen both broke the ton.

“Our goal here is really to develop the newest electrical vehicle technology, so we want to build an awesome motorcycle to take to the Isle of Man and really show that electric vehicles can be the next form of transportation,” said Nathan Lord, the electrical team lead and a third-year in electrical and computer engineering.

The team wasn't able to make it to TT ZERO in previous years, but they have had a couple outings with the East Coast Timing Association (ECTA) land speed record events.  In July 2012 they posted this:  "Just set a new Electric ECTA record at 131.051. Great work team and stellar driving Jenn!"  In March 2012, the team was visited by President Obama.

For the 2013 TT ZERO they have a whole new bike and the $55,000 budget breaks down to $12,000 for electronics and battery management, $20,000 for batteries, $9,000 for the bike’s frame and $5,000 for the body and miscellaneous costs.

Source: The Lantern - Facebook

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Jeremiah Johnson to race in 2013 TTXGP and 2013 Pikes Peak on a 2013 Zero S

Jeremiah Johnson
TTXGP 2012 World Championship
Daytona International Raceway
Jeremiah Johnson ( announced on Wednesday that he would be racing a 2013 Zero S in the as-yet-unnamed electric motorcycle racing series that's due to supplant the TTXGP and e-Power series for 2013. I'm sorry that the situation of the TTXGP/e-Power is overshadowing Johnson's plan to race in that series, but that's how it is, and I'll focus on him for the rest of this.  Johnson ran with loaned 2012 Zero S's in two TTXGP events during 2012, including the World Championship race at Daytona where he took 4th place. For the 2013 season he has purchased a 2013 Zero S, and teamed up with Hollywood Electrics for race customization.

Jeremiah stated, “I was a guest of Zero at their 2013 product launch party in Long Beach, and I am really looking forward to racing the ’13 Zero S this year. It has more than double the HP over the ’12 model that I raced last year, and that was a fun bike, so I’m eager to see what the ’13 is like on the track. Also, both Zeros I raced last year were bikes that I borrowed at the last minute to enter the races with. I’m really stoked to have a Team Be-Ev.Com Racing owned Zero Motorcycle that I can modify with Hollywood Electrics to fit my personal riding style. I got a chance to test a couple of the Hollywood Electrics modified streetbikes last year, and I can’t wait to start testing with them at the race track and see what we come up with for a serious race bike. I am very thankful to Harlan Flagg of Hollywood Electrics for making this deal come through.”

Hollywood Electric does more than just sell the bikes, they can do a wide range of customizations.  They've done racing setup for other Zero S owners, such as land-speed-record-holder Brandon Nozaki-Miller, and recently launched an electric-only race series through the M1GP racing club in Southern California.  Johnson says he will participate in a few of these races as well.

In addition to racing in the series-which-replaces-TTXGP-e-Power, Johnson will also run in the 2013 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb as part of the first all-electric motorcycle class in the history of that event.  “I’ve been a big fan of the Pike’s Peak Hill Climb race for a long time now, and I’m really stoked to get the opportunity to actually compete in the event myself,” said Jeremiah. “Being able to do it on an Electric motorcycle during the first year of the new class is even more exciting. I’m really happy to be able to help promote Electric Vehicles to a wider audience.”

Jeremiah Johnson is an AMA Pro racer who has a long history of interest with electric motorcycle racing.  As I noted a year ago when he announced his participation in the 2012 TTXGP season, he was one of the participants in the 2009 TTXGP event held during the Vintage Motorcycle Days at the Mid-Ohio Raceway, the first presence of the TTXGP in North America.

I shot this video at Daytona with Terry Hershner and Jeremiah Johnson going over the modifications they made to prepare Hershner's Zero S for the 2012 TTXGP World Final.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Hydrogen race car from TU Delft to shock and revolutionize the racing world

A student team at the Technical University of Delft has built a hydrogen fuel cell race car with which they can "can shock and revolutionize the race world."  The team has spent years developing a series of hydrogen powered race cars, culminating in the Forze VI being built this spring.  The team plans to race the car against gas powered cars in the Caterham Cup, and to take it to the Nürburgring Nordschleife to break the lap record for hydrogen powered cars.

This is the car.  It does 0-60 miles/hr in under 4 seconds, top speed 136 miles/hr (220 km/hr), power is 100 kiloWatts nominal, 200 kiloWatts peak, and total weight is 800 kilograms.  The car has "the size of a regular street car and packs super car-ish performance" and carries six times the power of their previous car. 

Their write-up says the "nominal power is being produced inside the fuel cell system, which has been developed by the Forze team."  It has two electric motors to drive the rear wheels independently.  This setup allows for an "electric differential" where the electric motors are driven at different power levels to mimic the way a mechanical differential varies wheel RPM when going around corners. 

What their write-up does not explain is whether there's a battery pack, and if so what role does it play.  That is, reading between the lines, "nominal power being produced by the fuel cell" sounds like the output of the fuel cell is 100 KW maximum.  If so, where do they get the 200 KW peak power from? 

I'll send them a query to find out - but off the top of my head it's most likely that the fuel cell is used to charge a battery pack or supercapacitor bank, and that bursts of peak power can be drawn from that bank.

Early build shot of the Forze 6


Monday, March 11, 2013

Waiting patiently for schedules etc on series replacing the TTXGP/e-Power

Last week I was able to disclose news of a merger between the TTXGP and FIM e-Power electric motorcycle racing series.  While the news itself was exciting and promising to heal the schism between those two series, it left out some important details.  These details are important ones that race teams must know to plan their year, line up sponsorships, and more.

For example -
  • Rules & classes (we only know rules will be very similar to 2012's rules)
  • Name of the series (we only know it will neither be called TTXGP nor e-Power)
  • Fees to participate
  • Event schedule (we only know it'll be alongside MotoGP races)
In previous years the schedule for both TTXGP and e-Power was published in January or earlier, giving the teams time to prepare and schedule themselves.  Likewise the rules and series name were already known quantities.

The press releases were sent over a week ago.  Time is ticking and the teams need to know the plan.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Formula E announces 8 of the 10 host cities for 2014 electric car race season

The Formula E electric race car series set its 2014 itinerary on an around-the-world tour of electric racing action.  The preliminary calendar presented to the FIA include two races in Europe, two in North America, two in South America and two in Asia. 

The Formula E series says they received formal requests from 23 cities on 5 continents interested in hosting a Formula E event.  The cities chosen are:
  • Europe: London, Rome
  • North America: Los Angeles, Miami,
  • Asia: Beijing, Putrajaya,
  • South America: Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro.
The series organizers say they still plan to hold 10 races during 2014, and that two slots are being kept open in the calendar "to include 2 additional cities among those that have expressed interest."

At this time Formula E Holdings is working with prospective host cities "to discuss all the specific elements involved in hosting a street race." The goal is to have signed agreements by July 1, 2013. The final calendar will be presented to FIA for its approval at the September 2013 World Motor Sport Council.

Two teams are currently signed up - China Racing and Drayson Racing.  The cars are being designed by McLaren, Spark Racing Technologies and Dallara.  The latter released sketches last week of the race car design.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "Zero emission world class motor racing is a scintillating concept and I am hugely keen that London be involved in the birth of Formula E. It has the potential to highlight the impressive strides being made in the manufacture of electric vehicles and hosting a street race could also be of considerable economic benefit to our city.”

The Mayor of Miami, Tomas Regalado commented: "We are enthusiastic about the future organization and promotion of Formula E, the worldwide championship for electric single-seater cars, sponsored by de Fédération Internationale de l´Automobile."

Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E Holdings, said: "We are thankful to all the cities that have expressed their willingness to host our races. The fact that cities from all over the world are interested in the FIA Formula E Championship is extremely heartening and shows a global commitment to clean mobility and sustainability. The provisional calendar we publish today is composed of cities in America, Europe and Asia. We look forward to also racing in Africa and Australasia from 2015 onwards."

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sun Trip - the 7300 kilometer solar powered electric bicycle race from France to Kazakhstan

The Sun Trip - a rider, a bicycle, a battery pack, an electric motor, solar panels, and a road trip from France to Kazakhstan.  In June 2013 several teams will embark from Chámbery, France with such bicycles, and will finish after many weeks in Astana, Kazakhstan. The idea?  To raise awareness of the possibilities of solar powered electric bicycles.

The format is part eco-adventure, part advocacy, part bicycling, part solar energy, and part race. 

What do these bikes look like?  Going by the website the teams have chosen a wide variety of designs.  The basic idea is this:

It's a normal electric bicycle - that is, a normal bicycle with an electric drive system on it.  THe bicycle carries a battery pack, a motor that's usually in the hub of the wheel, a controller, etc.  Most of them have a trailer that carries gear and solar panels.

Here's another example:

This is a recumbent tadpole trike, with a canopy of solar panels, a trailer carrying gear and more solar panels, and panniers to carry other gear.  The motor power is 1000 watts, battery pack is 48 volts 10 amp-hours.  That's a small battery pack, typical of what you'd have for around-town riding and in normal conditions would provide 20 miles or so of riding range.  The solar panels provide 300 watts (peak) per panel (3 panels, 1.5 kg apiece).

Here's a video provided by the organizers to explain it in five minutes.  The speaking is in French, but there are plenty of pictures to get an idea.  Looks exciting to me.

To give a sense for the race, here's a map provided by the organizers showing several routes the teams could take.  In actuality each team is free to choose their preferred route.

Who can enter?  Anybody who can pass a physical exam and can build or buy a qualifying bike/trike.  What qualifies?  See the pictures above.  These aren't terribly hard to build but the organizers say they can help arrange purchase of a bike if necessary.

There are two prizes - one is for the first to arrive in Kazakhstan.  The other prize is for the one who has the best adventure, and will be judged by the content of their travel blog.

Adventurers are required to travel with no outside assistance.  They will fund themselves, and may arrange for sponsorships to help cover costs.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

AFM approves Brammo electric motorcycles for racing in gas bike races

Brammo announced on Tuesday a historic agreement with the AFM allowing Brammo's Empulse R, Empulse TTX and Empulse RR electric motorcycles to compete directly in AFM races.  For the first time electric motorcycle racers will be able to compete for points and championship position in regular gas bike racing.  The agreement not only covers Brammo's own team, Team ICON Brammo, but any owner of qualifying Brammo motorcycles who qualifies to be an AFM competitor.

The motorcycles must meet AFM's technical requirements, and the organization has adopted TTXGP's rules.  Electric bike teams must also follow other TTXGP safety rules including a cool-down area in the pit, fire safety blankets, and the corner workers will have insulated gloves.  The important rule is that riders must meet a lap time threshold in order to compete in a given race.

The Brammo Empulse TTX and Empulse R bikes will be allowed in these classes:
  • 250 Superbike
  • 500 Twins
  • 450 Superbike
  • Clubman Lightweight
  • Formula 40 Lightweight
  • Formula AFemme
  • Formual 50
The Empulse RR bikes will be allowed in these classes:
  • Formula 1
  • Formula Pacific
  • Clubman Middleweight
  • Formula 40 Middleweight
  • Formula AFemme
  • Formula 50 
  • 750 Superbike
The AFM doesn't expect a given rider will enter in all those classes, and typically riders only enter 2-4 races per weekend.

According to Jon Forman, AFM SF Chapter Director, owners of electric bikes from other manufacturers will also be allowed to compete. What AFM has done is pre-determine which classes Brammo's motorcycles can race in.  For the other electric motorcycles, the AFM will have to determine on a case-by-case basis which class the bike can race in.  Interested racers should contact the AFM ahead of time to discuss technical requirements, class eligibility, and permission to run their bike.

Electric motorcycles have run in gas bike races, won, and gotten points previously.  The two occasions I know of are when Team Electra ran in an AHRMA event at Barber Motorsports Park in October 2010, and won, convincingly (see Team Electra in history-making win of electric motorcycles against gas bikes), and in early 2011 when Chip Yates participated in WERA racing and also won (see Chip Yates electric motorcycle takes podium finishes in WERA gas bike racing).  In both cases the respective team owners, while they won points in the respective championships, withdrew their win and gave up the points in order to avoid perturbing the results between the gas bike racers.

What is different in this case is that AFM has opened the door to full participation in gas bike racing by electric bike owners.

The Empulse R can be bought today from Brammo's dealership network.  The Empulse TTX will involve an aftermarket kit to ensure the Empulse R conforms with TTXGP regulations.  The Empulse RR is Brammo's non-production prototyping platform.  While the R and TTX can be bought and raced by teams other than Brammo's, the Empulse RR will only be raced by Team ICON Brammo.

Team ICON Brammo
TTXGP 2012 World Championship at Daytona International Raceway
Brian Wismann, Director of Product Development for Brammo, said: “This announcement is a true milestone in the history of electric motorcycle racing as an opportunity for our bikes to compete amongst their gas powered counterparts on even terms rather than just as an exhibition or in a single race. It’s going to be a challenge to be competitive as the gas bikes have about 100 years of development time on us, but we’re excited about the chance to pit the Brammo Empulse against the best efforts from Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha.”

Berto Wooldridge, President of AFM Racing said; “What caught AFM's attention about Brammo's approach was that they were not asking for a separate class, but were instead looking to have a chance for their bikes to compete within the existing class structure and go head to head with gas-powered bikes of similar performance and power-to-weight. We believe this to be a historic moment in motorcycle racing and are happy to have made it possible.”

New joint FIM/TTXGP series to replace both TTXGP and e-Power electric motorcycle racing series

The TTXGP and FIM announced today a historic change in the face of electric motorcycle racing.  The two organizations have announced an agreement under which both the TTXGP and e-Power racing series will be replaced by a new series.  The announcement resolves several years of schism which split electric motorcycle racing into these two camps, and may help to accelerate the "growth and higher profile" for this sport.

Matthias Himmelman, Muench Racing
This is a ten year deal under which the TTXGP will transition to the role of "Race Promoter" and the FIM will be positioned as the sanctioning body for electric motorcycle racing.  Prior to this the TTXGP tried to fill multiple sets of shoes, racing promoter, technical standards, and race sanctioning.  This announcement puts electric motorcycle racing in the same pattern as other motorcycle racing series, where the FIM handles technical and sanctioning work, and a race promoter organization handling the marketing.  For example the MotoGP's race promoter is Dorna.

The new series (whose name was not been revealed) will (in 2013-14) be run as a "World Cup" and as a support class to other FIM events, such as the MotoGP.  For 2013 there will be two championship series, one in Europe, the other in North America, with the World Final in Asia.  The dates and locations of these events were not yet disclosed.

An astute reader will notice that Australia is missing from this list.  As we noted the other day, the partnership between the eFXC and TTXGP has ended, with the eFXC choosing to go its own way.

Steve Atlas, Brammo
The rules for 2013 have not been announced, but the TTXGP says to expect those shortly, and that for 2013 they'll be as close as possible to the 2012 rules.

For 2014 the configuration will change again with the electric motorcycle racing series operating under a global championship calendar, with at least six events spread over three continents.  Teams will accumulate points over the season, and there will not be a World Final race.   In that year it will still operate as a support class to other events.

Starting in 2015 the organizations expect the electric motorcycle racing series to be "a headline event in its own right with a global calendar."  What this means is that the series will stop being a support class for other racing events, but instead stage its own events.  It will also be the "world’s first all-electric World Championship" and consist of racing weekends across three continents.  The details of, for example, the racing classes have not been nailed down and the TTXGP says "will be announcing deals with new partners over the course of the next 18 months."
Lightning Motorcycles,
almost certainly Michael Barnes

FIM President Vito Ippolito said of the groundbreaking new series: “Through this agreement, we are taking another important step towards the growth and promotion of clean electric road racing. The FIM is committed to furthering sports events for electric motorcycles which will certainly be a major component of the motor sport of the future”.

TTXGP founder Azhar Hussain considers the agreement a milestone in the development of electric motor sport: “This partnership with the FIM clears the way for a single destination for all the world’s innovators to drive the next generation of technologies for competitive motor sport beyond the grid. We look forward to working with the FIM on this exciting project”.

There are many more details remaining to be announced:
  • The name of the series
  • The schedule for 2013 in Europe and North America
  • The vehicle classes allowed to participate

The FIM Teams Up With TTXGP For Promotion of New e-Road Racing Series
TTXGP/FIM - the roadmap for the electric FIM World Championship

Saturday, March 2, 2013

China Racing is second race team to join FIA's Formula E electric car racing series

Formula E has signed a second team, China Racing, for the 2014 racing season.  The Chinese team is the second entry officially proposed to the FIA in the new global electric racing championship.  The announcement was made on Feb. 27 at the FIA headquarters in Paris. 

The Chinese team will race in the 2014 Formula E Championship season.  They aim to become a "Constructor" in their own right, building their own Chinese-made electric race cars within 3 seasons. 

For the 2014 season the team intends to use the new Formula E customer car supplied by Formula E Holdings, which is currently being developed by Spark Racing Technology (SRT), McLaren and Dallara.  The first sketches of the SRT_01E was released in addition to the China Racing announcement.  During 2013 the team will work with SRT and Formula E Holdings to test the customer car and promote the Championship globally across the 10 host cities planned for the first season.

In January, Drayson Racing was the first team proposed to the FIA. In December, Rome was announced as a host city for the Formula E.  In November, the partnership between SRT, McLaren and Dallara was announced.

Mr. Yu Liu, Chairman of China Racing Formula E Team: "We are very excited that the FIA is launching an electric car racing series and we are proud to be one of the first Formula E teams. I believe Formula E is a perfect platform for China Racing and our key partners to get involved in the future of motor sport. Our presence in the Championship will encourage millions of Chinese fans to follow the series. We have full confidence in the FIA and FEH to promote Formula E. Our experience in racing event management will contribute to a successful Formula E city race in China showcasing electric formula cars with a futuristic sound and zero-emissions. We also believe this is a good platform for Chinese and global EV companies to do our part to help create a sustainable planet."

Alejandro Agag, Chief Executive Officer of FEH: “We are delighted to present China Racing Formula E Team to the FIA as one of the 10 teams taking part in the Formula E Championship. China has enormous potential for the expansion of Electric Vehicles as a tool to fight pollution in cities. We think the FIA Formula E Championship can be a powerful tool to make electric cars popular with the Chinese public, particularly the younger generations. Having a Chinese team with us in the Championship will be key to succeeding in that challenge. We also expect Chinese drivers to join the competition, and we look forward to Chinese companies joining our effort to make cities more livable and healthy. The racing track record of China Racing, the first international Chinese racing team, speaks for itself and I am convinced they will be a fantastic addition to the competition. We are very happy to welcome today Chairman Liu and his team to the Formula E family."

Team China Racing started in 2004 in Beijing as one of the A1GP Teams, authorized by the Ministry of Sports of China. The team has competed in different international racing series such as A1GP, Superleague Formula and FIA GT1. Team China Racing has supported many Chinese drivers such as Qinghua Ma, CongFu Cheng, HopIn Tung, etc. Team China Racing has rich experience in motorsport operation and management; the team has organized 10 events in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Zhuhai and Ordos, including 2 street races in Beijing. For more information, please visit Team China Racing website:

Formula E releases first sketch of electric race car design

Formula E has released the first sketch of the new Formula E race car.  The design work is being done by Dallara.  I didn't get any information along with the sketch.

Until now the only images we've had for Formula E was the old Formulec electric race car.  Given that Frédéric Vasseur led Formulec, and is leading Spark Racing Technologies (SRT), it was fair for us to have shown the Formulec car in previous coverage.  However, this sketch is giving us a glimpse into the car design which will race in the Formula E series.

The name shown is Spark SRT_01E.

It's an open wheel design, an open cockpit, several wings for aerodynamics, an air intake, etc.  Looks like a race car.

The plan is for Spark Racing Technologies and McLaren to team together in building 42 race cars for the 2014 season.  These will be made available for race teams as well as for testing.

Electric motorcycle racing poised for blastoff with ever-improving production bikes from Zero and Brammo

The 2012 TTXGP season demonstrated one thing really well - that production electric motorcycles are now good enough for credible racing.  The electric car field doesn't have anything equivalent.  First, there isn't an electric car racing series with any history, well other than NEDRA electric drag racing.  Second, there isn't a production electric car on the market to which you can make a few simple modifications and have a credible racing vehicle, well, other than the Tesla Model S.  Among the 2013 production electric motorcycle's are not just one, but two, models, available from two manufacturers, that can be easily modified for electric motorcycle racing.

Jeremiah Johnson at
2012 TTXGP World Championship
The watershed for this was the 2012 TTXGP season in North America which included the eSuperStock award group, made up of 2012 Zero S's provided by Zero Motorcycles.  They raced the full North American season, performing admirably and reliably.  At the 2012 TTXGP World Championship in Daytona, while Zero themselves did not show up there was a Zero S in the race.  That was one prepared by Terry Hershner and Jeremiah Johnson.

Theirs was a most interesting story in which Terry rode his bike from Tampa to Daytona, and then he and Jeremiah set about converting the bike to fit the TTXGP rules.  I shot the following video interview with them following the race.  The goal of the video was to talk through the simple modifications required to take a stock Zero S and run it in a TTXGP race.

Before the video I want to make something clear.  In my reports during the 2012 season I kept returning to a complaint about the slow bikes and fast bikes.  Because of practicalities, the TTXGP organizers grid slow bikes and fast bikes together creating a condition in which bikes like the 2012 Zero S are getting passed by bikes going 60-70 miles/hr faster.  Flat out the stock 2012 Zero S would do 90 miles/hr, and the modified bike shown in the following video was hitting speeds around 100 miles/hr.  These are decent speeds and a full race grid of 32 Zero S's would be very exciting.  However both the Brammo guys were hitting 170 miles/hr top speeds, making the Zero's look bad by comparison.

This is not to diminish the advances represented by the Zero S's.  It is amazing, in fact, that starting with the 2012 Zero S it was now possible to just buy an electric motorcycle, make a few simple modifications, and take it racing.  The 2012 Zero S was proved to perform slightly slower than 250cc gas bikes, but the improvements in the 2013 Zero S should make it slightly faster than 250cc gas bikes.  And then there is the Brammo Empulse R which is now being delivered to customers, and which is probably a bit faster than that.

What I would prefer is for these 100ish miles/hr production bikes to be in their own race grid, and for the top bikes to be in their own race grid. The video below demonstrates just how close we are to being able to field a grid of 32 production electric motorcycles in one race.  These sorts of modifications are expected to be made into a kit, produced by the manufacturer, so that electric motorcycle owners could quickly and easily get into racing.

eFXC electric motorcycle racing in Australia parts ways with TTXGP for 2013

In 2011 and 2012 the TTXGP had a presence in Australia thanks to a partnership with the Australian electric motorcycle racing series, eFXC.  The partnership made for two seasons of electric motorcycle racing that primarily saw Catavolt and Ripperton in competition.   However, the partnership between TTXGP and eFXC has ended and the eFXC is now running on its own separately from the TTXGP.  It remains under the umbrella of the Australian FX-Superbike Championship.

Catavolt at 2012 TTXGP World Final, Daytona

According to an announcement on the FX-Superbike website, the 2013 series will include two classes.  One will support the existing "development" bikes - that is, home built experimental bikes that Ripperton and Catavolt have been racing with so far.  The other class is for Production bikes.  The 2013 eFXC series has four dates, listed below.  According to a comment on the website, they currently have commitments from five teams.

One thing the 2012 North American season proved is that the 2012 Zero S is a solid bike that can easily be modified for racing under TTXGP rules.  At the Portland event it was proved the 2012 Zero S is slightly slower than the 250cc gas bikes.  The 2013 Zero S is a notch faster and should be able to beat 250cc gas bikes now.  Additionally Brammo is finally beginning to deliver Empulse and Empulse R bikes to customers, either of which should be convertible into a credible race bike. 

This is no doubt what the Aussie's (eFXC) are aiming for with a new Production racing class.  Owners of 2013 Zero S's or 2013 Empulse R's should be able to make a few simple modifications and go racing at a performance level similar to 250cc gas bikes.

This is a solid demonstration of how far electric motorcycles have come over the last 4 years.  This is no longer the realm of experimental bike builders.  It's becoming a sport where you can just buy a bike and go racing.

Why did eFXC and TTXGP part ways for 2013?  I tried contacting one of the people in charge but did not receive an answer.  However I have talked with Azhar Hussain (TTXGP) about this, but am not yet free to give full details.  There is a pending announcement which will give a better appreciation of the larger context within which eFXC and TTXGP parted ways.  

2011 announcement coverage: TTXGP expands again in partnership with Australian FX-Superbike Championship

2012 announcement coverage: TTXGP/eFXC Australia is on again for 2012

Source: eFXC Electric Motorcycle Racing Championship 2013

eFXC 2013 Rounds:
Rnd 1, 3rd – 5th May, Wakefield Park Raceway NSW eFXC 2 Races (FX Rnd 3)
Rnd 2, 23rd – 25th August, Queensland Raceway Queensland, eFXC 2 Races (FX Rnd 4)
Rnd 3, 4th – 6th October, Sydney Motorsport Park NSW eFXC 2 Races (FX Rnd 5)
Rnd 4, 15th – 16th November, Sydney Motorsport Park NSW eFXC 1 Race (FX Rnd 6)

Friday, March 1, 2013

EU to explode electric car stereotypes with VOLAR-E 1000 horsepower electric supercar

Spanish engineering firm Applus+IDIADA just demonstrated a wicked fast electric race car near Barcelona at the Circuit de Catalunya during the F1 Test Days.  The VOLAR-E is a custom built electric race car sporting four electric motors, 1000 horsepower, 1000 nM torque, and specs, design and look that's suspiciously similar to the Rimac Concept One electric supercar.  Going by the comments on both the YouTube video and Applus' Facebook page there may be a little bit of cross border rivalry going between Rimac fans and Applus.

Applus VOLAR-E
The specs are:- 4x electric motors, 1000 horsepower, 1000 nM torque, 640 volt 38 kilowatt-hour battery pack, a DC fast charge system capable of a 15 minute recharge, a fancy touch panel control system in the cockpit, four driving modes, a torque vectoring system, vehicle dynamics control, etc.  The 0-60 time is 3.4 seconds.

Comparing these specs to the Rimac Concept One, well, let's just say these are very similarly spec'd cars.

Applus got the contract from the European Union to build this car in October 2012.  The purpose stated at the time was to "help overcome the current technological and social barriers of electric cars and promote acceptance of electric vehicle technology by the public and the mass introduction of this type of vehicle into our society."

In other words - by building such a car the EU wants to blow up the "slow boring ugly golf cart" stereotype.

Going by postings on Applus' Facebook page there isn't much doubt that Rimac had a huge hand in building this car.   A video of the workshop clearly has a Rimac logo on the wall, and a post covering the battery pack design shows battery modules from Rimac.

By the way - the battery pack is made of 10 modules, each are 60 cells in a 20S3P (3 parallel'd cells, with 20 in series) for 64 volts 60 amp-hours per module.  That equates to the 640 volts overall system voltage.

The battery chemistry is lithium-iron-phosphate which is a curious choice for a performance vehicle.

Other than the little controversy over who actually built the VOLAR-E, going by the video it does the job of blowing up stereotypes.

Source: Applus, VOLAR-E, the wicked fast 1000 HP electric race car on a mission to explode stereotypes