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The future of Efficient Motorsport – latest developments show that progress is accelerating

MIA Low Carbon Racing Conference 2013 - Lord Drayson

MIA Low Carbon Racing Conference 2013 review

MIA Low Carbon Racing Conference 2013 , Europe’s leading conference for Low Carbon, High Performance Technology: event review from media partner Beating Spirit.

Highlights from MIA Low Carbon event on 9 January 2013 include:

• The announcement that Drayson Racing is the first team to enter the new Formula E championship with its electric racing car

• Interview with Jean-Francois Weber from Green GT , who is entering a hydrogen fuel cell racing car in the Le Mans 2013

Ben Bowlby provided a review of the performance of the DeltaWing in Le Mans 2012.

Some key ideas for green Motorsport:

• Motorsport can define what is aspirational and cool, and so it should be leading from the front, but motorsport can only change at the speed of the regulators, and the world is changing at a quicker rate than the regulators.

• Motorsport is playing ‘catch-up’ with the automotive industry in the area of efficiency

• Regulations should encourage motorsport to mirror the technological developments in the automotive industry, to make the automotive-motorsport link as relevant as possible.

• Small motorsport companies are ideal to quickly develop new efficient technologies which they can then sell to volume car makers.

Chris Aylett, CEO of the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA)


The conference was chaired by Chris Aylett, CEO of the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA) , who has one mission in life: to help businesses working in UK motorsport benefit from commercial opportunities. The conference showed that there are numerous business opportunities from low carbon developments in the industry.

Chris Aylett, CEO of the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA)

International business opportunities for UK motorsport

Keynote address – International Trade and Low Carbon Innovation

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Nick Baird, UKTI

Nick Baird from UKTI stressed the importance of exporting to help the UK economy grow, and the government has set ambitious targets to more than double the country’s exports by 2020. Businesses involved in motorsport are currently exporting very successfully, however there are still many more international opportunities, and the big emerging world markets are where the growth will be.

The message was that the UK must continue to move away from an economy which spent huge amounts of money on public sector procurement and that relied on sectors such as financial services, and to rebalance the economy by exporting skills in which we are world-leading – such as motorsport, which is at the cutting edge of manufacturing technology. UKTI can help motorsport businesses that want to grow their international trade.

Kirsty Andrew, Williams Grand Prix Engineering UK motorsport is right at the top of the technology chain

UK companies engaging in international trade and diversification in the field of High Performance Low Carbon

Tim Routsis, Cosworth

Peter Digby, Xtrac

Kirsty Andrew, Williams Grand Prix Engineering

Nick Baird, UKTI

Kirsty Andrew, Williams Grand Prix Engineering

Low carbon is now making an impact in Formula 1, according to Kirsty Andrew from Williams , due to Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems, or KERS, which recovers and stores the kinetic energy in the waste heat created by the car’s braking process, converting it into power to boost acceleration. Williams developed its own flywheel-based KERS system but didn’t use it in its F1 cars, and instead developed its own electrical KERS system. In 2014 the power capacity of the KERS units will increase to balance the downsizing of engines. KERS is also likely to find its way into World Touring Cars.

Significantly from a low carbon business opportunity point of view, the company has set up Williams Hybrid Power to sell its expertise developed in this area.

Tim Routsis, Cosworth

Tim Routsis, Cosworth

Tim Routsis from Cosworth stressed that efficiency is the keyword, and even internal combustion engines are improving their efficiency more radically now than at any previous time.

Peter Digby, Xtrac at MIA Low Carbon Racing Conference 2013

Peter Digby, Xtrac

Peter Digby from Xtrac explained how his company provides solutions to customers’ needs to package transmissions efficiently – an example of a skill that can be transferred successfully from motorsport to the automotive industry, as cars need to get smaller and lighter.

Summary – motorsport business international trade and diversification

The session showed that motorsport is excellent at innovating and developing fast prototypes – skills that can be implemented in other industries. However motorsport is playing ‘catch-up’ with the automotive industry in the area of efficiency. There was also general consensus was that Formula 1 missed a trick by calling its recovery technology KERS – if it had used the term ‘hybrid’ that may have helped the average motorist relate to energy efficiency initiatives in F1 and created more interest in the sport.

A comment from the audience was that American motorsport isn’t as receptive as Europe to low carbon initiatives; “it won’t trade in its V8s”. Our comment would be that this is also the view that the American motor industry took, resulting in it going bankrupt, whilst the Japanese car industry, which was focused in improving efficiency, enjoyed increasing worldwide success.

The future of green technology in motorsport

MIA Motorsport Technology Roadmap

Steve Sapsford from Ricardo at MIA Low Carbon Racing Conference 2013

Steve Sapsford from Ricardo gave a presentation about the MIA Motorsport Technology Roadmap. The Automotive Council has already produced a roadmap that lays out the expected green technology that passenger cars will feature between now and 2050, and the motorsport industry has now done the same.

The idea behind the roadmap is to inform investment decisions and to help access funds from government. Some of Steve’s observations included that battery technology is currently disappointing, and, probably related to this, that the internal combustion engine will stay around for a while yet. Vehicle weight and drag will both be areas where we will see improvements.

Steve noted that fewer numbers of people are watching motorsport, and the audience is ageing. One way to make motorsport more engaging for a younger generation would be to stream data from the vehicles with the TV coverage.

Motorsport and automotive low carbon technologies should be better aligned

Tony Harper, Automotive Council / Jaguar Cars at MIA Low Carbon Racing Conference 2013 Discussion of the Motorsport Technology Roadmap, Automotive OEM plans and the motorsport supply chain

Tony Harper, Automotive Council / Jaguar Cars

Fabrice Lom, FIA

Steve Sapsford, Ricardo

Tony Harper, Automotive Council / Jaguar Cars

Tony Harper, from Jaguar Cars , but also representing the Automotive Council, when commenting on the Automotive Roadmap made the point that a few years ago the emphasis was almost exclusively on electric vehicles, to the detriment of R&D on the internal combustion engine. However this has been identified, as the latest TSB collaborative R&D call specifically includes internal combustion engines. Tony saw downspeeding, downsizing and pressure charging as three key ways forward.

Tony also highlighted that automotive CO2 regulations all around the world are starting to converge to similar levels, meaning that there is a huge opportunity for people developing technology to help car makers – could motorsport play a part in this? Small motorsport companies are ideal to quickly develop new efficient technologies which they can then sell to volume car makers.

Fabrice Lom from the FIA at MIA Low Carbon Racing Conference 2013

Fabrice Lom from the FIA responded to comments about motorsport regulations not encouraging the development of efficient technologies. The consensus was that regulations should encourage motorsport to mirror the technological developments in the automotive industry, to make the automotive-motorsport link as relevant as possible.

DeltaWing proves that green racing cars can be twice as efficient

2012 performance review, DeltaWing

Ben Bowlby, DeltaWing at MIA Low Carbon Racing Conference 2013

Ben Bowlby, the creator of the DeltaWing concept , reminded the audience at the conference that the idea for the DeltaWing started at the 2008 MIA event. Ben, a Brit by birth, had been working in America for 20 years, using budgets of around $80 million to try and find incremental performance improvements in cars competing in American race series. At the same time motorsport audiences were getting older and declining in numbers.

Factors such as these came together and inspired Ben to create a new racing car concept that would be dramatically more efficient, would better align with the improvements that the motor industry was making, and would appeal to a younger audience. So the DeltaWing concept was born – a racing car that was half the weight, half the drag, and that used half the fuel – yet was as fast as the other cars .

The project progressed in a short timescale, with help from Michelin in the area of tyres, and from Nissan in the area of engines. After being rejected as too radical for IndyCar, in June 2011 the DeltaWing was granted ‘Garage 56’ for Le Mans 2012.

The DeltaWing weighed just 492kg without fuel or driver. Its aim was to achieve double the efficiency of the other cars – which it came very close to achieving.

The DeltaWing ran successfully in Le Mans for six hours before a Toyota crashed into it. Here’s some of the outcomes:

• 3 min 45 sec race pace as ACO request

• 3.6 litres petrol per lap – most efficient ever

• Changed tyres once in 6 hours of running

• 300bhp, 300kph

• Racing changed people’s opinions of efficiency

• Innovation is interesting – DeltaWing was fan’s favourite

So what’s the future for Ben and the DeltaWing? We’ll tell you as soon as we know

Hydrogen fuel cell racing car to take part in Le Mans 2013

Energy-Efficient Sports Car Racing Plans

Ulrich Baretzky, Audi Motorsport

Jean-Francois Weber, Green GT

Ben Bowlby, DeltaWing

Ulrich Baretzky, Audi Motorsport at MIA Low Carbon Racing Conference 2013

Ulrich Baretzky, Audi Motorsport

Ulrich Baretzky from Audi Motorsport
reminded us that Audi won Le Mans in a diesel in 2006 and in a diesel hybrid in 2012. He also looked forward to 2020, when carmakers in Europe need to achieve a fleet average of just 95 g/km CO2 for their vehicles – with
potentially huge fines for cars that exceed the target . Le Mans could be a laboratory to explore how to make cars more efficient, giving motorsport the opportunity to show leadership in this area.

Jean-Francois Weber, Green GT at MIA Low Carbon Racing Conference 2013

Jean-Francois Weber, Green GT

Jean-Francois Weber from Green GT explained how he’s going to race a hydrogen fuel cell car in the 2013 Le Mans, in the same Garage 56 that the DeltaWing occupied in 2012. He said that he got the idea from the Russian space project, which used a hydrogen energy storage system. He deduced that if it was used in space it should be safe and efficient

Ben Bowlby observed that car marketing in America was always about a car that was bigger and heavier than the model it replaced; the DeltaWing proved that this doesn’t have to be the case. He also made the point that minimum weight regulations in motorsport are a ridiculous concept, so the rules must be changed to make motorsport more relevant to the world outside.

A question from the audience asked if noise is important in motorsport. An answer was provided relating to TTxGP, the Electric Motorbike Grand Prix
, where a rider gave a commentary during racing, which proved to be highly engaging, receiving a very positive response from the audience. This would not have been possible with a conventional petrol-powered motorbike as it would have been too noisy.

Drayson Racing is first team to sign up to Formula E

Electric powertrains and Formula E

Lord Drayson, Drayson Racing Technologies and Alejandro Agag, Formula E

Lord Drayson, Drayson Racing Technologies and
Alejandro Agag, Formula E

Lord Drayson, Drayson Racing Technologies

Lord Drayson, Drayson Racing Technologies

Lord Paul Drayson
announced that Drayson Racing Technologies would be the first team to
enter Formula E , a new FIA Championship for all-electric cars
.

Qualcomm Europe will sponsor Drayson Racing over the next 18 months to promote and develop Qualcomm Halo Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging (WEVC) technology during the launch phase of the Formula E. Qualcomm may not be a household name, even though most people are likely to have a Qualcomm chip inside their phone.

Lord Drayson sees wireless charging as an important technology to help with the uptake of electric vehicles. It enables vehicles to be charged without a cable, either statically or on the move. This allows electric cars to have smaller batteries, which makes them lighter and more efficient. Formula E will showcase this technology, which is applicable on the road or racetrack.

Formula E will take place in cities around the world (because EVs are intended for use in urban areas) and Lord Drayson suggested that audiences will not miss the noise of Formula 1 when they hear an electric car travelling at speeds of up to 200mph. There are also plans for a real time, online video game where people can compete with the real cars. Because of all this he expects Formula E will bring a new audience to motorsport.

No other team has cars ready to race, so Formula E is to order 40 cars from Drayson Racing. Drayson Racing will use an electric powertrain developed by McLaren. Other teams can specify their own batteries and electric motors. In time, the hope is that other car manufacturers will join the championship.

Formula E’s first race is 3 May 2014; location and teams will be announced soon.

With a background as a biotech entrepreneur, as well as a government minister, Lord Drayson explained that motorsport can accelerate innovation and make green technology cool and exciting.

Motorsport should lead from the front, but it’s not doing this – because of the regulators

Tim Woolmer, YASA Motors at MIA Low Carbon Racing Conference 2013 Discussion – Future for Electric and Hybrid Motorsport

Tim Woolmer, YASA Motors

Azhar Hussain, TTxGP

Lord Drayson, Drayson Racing Technologies

Tim Woolmer from YASA Motors explained how the company is producing some of the best electric motors in world, that are smaller, lighter, and so cheaper – in other words they are ideal for the automotive industry, but also for motorsport, and as a result the company has recently been asked to supply to the Drayson Racing team.

Azhar Hussain, TTxGP at MIA Low Carbon Racing Conference 2013

Azhar Hussain from TTxGP , the Electric Motorbike Grand Prix, sees electric motorsport as the way forward, not because of oil running out, but because people like watching it – especially the younger generation. Azhar has a background in consumer electronics (interestingly, Qualcomm is also a consumer electronics company), and he had never been to a racetrack before he founded TTxGP.

Lord Drayson explained the classic adoption scenario for new technology – it gets lots of hype, then low sales, then it takes off – and electric vehicles are a great example of this. However in motorsport this model doesn’t necessarily work because it is controlled by regulators. Motorsport needs to be relevant to the challenges coming in the automotive industry. It can define what is aspirational and cool, and so it should be leading from the front, but motorsport can only change at the speed of the regulators, and the world is changing at a quicker rate than the regulators.

Lord Drayson concluded by saying that iPhone apps can tell you what the level of air pollution is where you are standing – how long will it take before hospitals correlate this information with admissions, so linking health issues such as respiratory problems with specific locations? When that happens it may just tip the balance, worldwide, in favour of electric vehicles.

Vehicles on display at MIA Low Carbon Racing Conference 2013

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Infiniti Emerg-e Concept car

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Drayson Racing Technologies B12/69EV

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The Lightning Car Company Lightning GT electric sports car

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Delta Motorsport E4 Electric coupe

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Read our review of the 2012 MIA Low Carbon Racing Conference

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Read our review of the 2011 MIA Low Carbon Racing Conference