Electric Vehicles don't race, they are supposed to drive really slow in order to get maximum range! With that statement I have been confronted a few times past few weeks, so I thought a little post with my answer and examples of great initiatives would be nice and informative here as well. A long story short, there are some great electric races around and they are not at all about driving slow and maximizing the range. They are great fun to watch and add incredible amounts of torque for the drivers to play with.
First of all, why would you race with electric vehicles, beside the fun factor? Racing is where you ask the most of things, and the car racing industry is like the space industry for the automotive. Under extreme conditions, solutions have to be engineered to be ever faster, more agile or lighter than the competition to come out on top. It is these extreme industries that getting the best available technology drives innovation and a lot of things used in the racing industry are now common in our day-to-day cars. The pledge for innovation was also re-iterated by Mr. Bernard Niclot, Technical Director at the FIA, with whom I have had the pleasure discussing the Formula E Championship plans last year. During his keynote at the IAMF in 2011 he expressed the desire of the FIA to be more of a catalyst to innovation in the Automotive industry. In response to a recent query I received by email if I knew about the Formula E Championship being cancelled or not; I have no idea. I have also not been able to respond to you as the mail address you supplied was incorrect, or didn't exist; sorry.
Racing to drive innovation. But where is this racing leading us? Let's take a look!
Drag Racing has always attracted lots of power to the short tracks, torque is important here and the electric vehicles have plenty of that. They really shine at the start, where their ICE opponents are lacking torque. There are plenty of videos around of converted electric dragsters leaving the combustion engines in… clean air. In the US there is the NEDRA which is active in this discipline. Some nice footages can be found on Youtube.
Second example is a Dutch contestant in a student competition, Dut Racing. It is an innovation driver where student teams build their own electric race cars and compete. This year the Dut Racing team from Delft took the victory at the Hockenheim track in Germany.
In a more professional league, also check out Drayson Racing with their inductive charged beauty which did a few laps at Le Mans this year. Drayson has plans to participate in the Formula E Championship, perhaps with this green devil. Also Kleenspeed has been working hard on getting an electric racer out and as far as I have understood, they are also aiming to take part in the FIA Formula E Championship.
There are also races with electric motor bikes, the most well known in my opinion being the TTX GP - they have already taken their championship to a global level. They have brought the power of electric racing down to two wheels only and have really gotten a big name rolling. A lot of the innovation from the tracks goes straight to the production floor to boost the various consumer models.
Last but not least, in my opinion one of the odd races around and lots of fun to watch; racing on ice with electric vehicles at the Andros Electric Races. It is a yearly event that takes place on the icy slopes and glaciers of Val Thorens and provides some spectacular footage.
Of course, this is not the complete list, but at least this will show people that there are indeed races around using electric vehicles. Not only drives this the innovation that is required to boost electric vehicles even further, it is also great fun to watch and it makes people more familiar with the concept of electric vehicles. There are many parties involved with electric racing now and I can only imagine this number will be growing. I surely hope the FIA will make an announcement soon with more details on their Formula E Championship plans, assuming their target is still 2013. If not, perhaps they can use my help again ;-)