Is motorsport leading or lagging as carmakers race to embrace green technologies?

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The worlds of motor racing and car manufacturing are embracing environmental technologies at different rates.

Formula 1 had its first hybrids, albeit mild ones by current standards, as long ago as 2009. Five years later it introduced its more sophisticated V6 hybrid turbos; the same year Formula E pioneered all-electric single-seater racing.

Meanwhile the move away from combustion engines in the automotive industry is well underway. Although some manufacturers dabbled in electrification (the Renault-Nissan and Peugeot groups in particular) there hadn’t been a concerted effort to transform until legislation started to force corporate hands, as is often the case in large industries.

Europe and the USA, the latter pushed on by California’s increasingly strict emissions standards, are now on course to eliminate the sale of combustion engines in passenger vehicles by 2035 at the latest. The earliest ban, in Norway, comes in at the start of 2025. For the automotive industry that might as well be yesterday, and is already reflected in electrical cars accounting for 65% of Norway’s vehicle sales last year.

Start, Diriyah E-Prix, Race 2, Saudi Arabia, 2022
Formula E’s second-generation cars will be replaced next year
All European Union countries will phase out petrol and diesel passenger car sales by 2035. Some, such as Belgium, are taking on already-agreed faster approaches in some areas and many Western European countries have opted for 2030 as a deadline.

All signatories to the COP26 climate agreement are also set to ban combustion passenger car sales by 2035, including the USA and China. Some countries – not the largest new car markets – have later bans on the sale of combustion cars. But there is a clear tipping point emerging beyond which where most automakers are committed to halting the production and sale of such vehicles.

Country End of combustion sales
Norway 2025
Germany 2030
UK 2035
US 2035
Japan 2035
EU member states 2035
China 2035
Mexico 2040
Indonesia 2050

The ban on selling new combustion cars doesn’t mean there won’t be any on the roads: there are well over a billion fuel-burning cars already circulating. That number might decrease, but will not radically change by the time the sale of new petrol-engined cars has halted. As anyone who remembers the slow phase-out of leaded petrol will recall, infrastructure will steadily shift towards non-combustion vehicles, in line with what new car buyers (the people manufacturers care about the most) expect.

At the moment the obvious solution for a non-combustion car is a battery electric vehicle. Alternatives do exist: almost every manufacturer has explored hydrogen fuel cell technology, but at the minute it’s not really viable due to the low kilowatt output of fuel cell stacks. This means almost all hydrogen vehicles need an auxiliary battery, demanding resources as well as the precious metals needed for the fuel cell stack itself. And although the output from a fuel cell vehicle is clean, extracting and refining hydrogen for vehicle use is problematic. Hydrogen can be gained from splitting water using renewable electricity but it’s sourced almost entirely from fossil fuels currently.

Start, IndyCar, 2021
IndyCar will move to hybrid powertrains in 2023
Some carmakers have committed to hard deadlines for the end of combustion development or even production. Others have set a point when they intend their range to be all electric. Some of the rest have more vaguely said that at some point they will achieve net carbon neutrality.

It’s fair to be cynical about the automotive industry but some of the efforts seem genuinely sincere, from moves to make sure manufacturing plants are powered by renewable electricity to sourcing more sustainable materials like recycled steel and recovered fabrics for making cars.

There has been a few efforts in racing to incorporate similar materials; McLaren’s F1 drivers sit in seats formed (at least partially) from a natural flax composite, rather than carbon fibre. Environmentally-marketed series Extreme E has introduced tyres made out of taraxagum, extracted from dandelions, rather than rubber. But in general racing hasn’t been quick to adopt new technologies that would make a car more sustainable, as opposed to faster.

Carmaker End combustion dev. No new combustion models Net zero emissions
Audi 2020 2026 2050
Mercedes 2019 2039 2040
BMW 2024 2050
Toyota 2050
Honda 2050
GM 2035 2040
Renault 2040 2050
Stellantis 2021 2028 2050
Porsche 2030

According to Formula E founder Alejandro Agag, the series has an exclusive contract with the FIA to serve as its only 100% electrical international single seater championship, a deal which runs until 2039. By that time, much of the world will have banned the sale of new combustion vehicles.

F1’s MGU-K technology reflects an ultra-high-end, smaller version of an electric powertrain, regardless of whether the power came from battery or a fuel cell. But the spectacle of F1 continuing to run V6 petrol engines in countries they are no longer available to purchase in could be a hurdle for manufacturer’s promotional activities.

Although F1 hasn’t always been dependent on manufacturers for teams, it has long relied on them for technology. The introduction of new power units to F1 in 2026 is therefore a vital opportunity to ensure it remains aligned with the plans of the car manufacturers it wishes to retain – and attract.

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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65 comments on “Is motorsport leading or lagging as carmakers race to embrace green technologies?”

  1. Hi, Hazel, it’s a great article and i think this topic has been overlooked by too many journalists.
    I have a few questions:
    1. Some says that “win on Sunday sale on Monday” model is no longer viable, is this true?
    2. I’m curious about how much techlogy developed in motorsport is transferred to road cars nowadays. Like, I think a lot of FE technology is transferred to road cars, but how much of F1?
    3. Is motorsport the most efficient way to develop new technology?

    1. Heya, thank you –

      1. Motorsport is still a marketing platform and that’s why automakers position their brands the way they do in it, like Alpine being Renault’s F1 entry, Acura being Honda’s badge in IMSA etc. But the direct correlation between the publicity they gain and sales is probably harder to draw a line to than it has ever been before; do Mercedes F1 fans buy more Mercedes cars than the average person? Probably not. But would Ferrari sell many cars at all if it wasn’t in F1? Naturally, automakers are squirrelly about the numbers so it’s hard to say but given eg: the number that flocked to FE to gain credibility as electric car manufacturers, there is something to the old adage still. (although the winning bit is rather hard in FE)

      2. It’s true that a lot of FE tech goes straight to road cars, specifically a lot of the battery management and programming. That’s because FE uses, fundamentally, automotive-realistic parts; the Gen2 battery is 54kWh (less than half of what 2021 EVs were launching with) and although at the time it could get hotter and take more regenerative energy/faster charging than most batteries, it’s now a few years old tech. Some FE powertrains have even gone directly into (high end) road cars because a powertrain is a powertrain, to some extent – MGUs aren’t incredibly complex or expensive to make and the series controls costs very tightly (FE’s budget cap next year will be literally a tenth of F1’s) Comparatively, Formula 1’s tech is very, very, very niche and uses incredibly high-end components. You do still see transfer; for instance, Mercedes’ performance brand AMG (which the team’s partially badged as now) use a design borrowed from their F1 battery for their new hybrid powertrain and some of the other elements also reference it. The EQXX road-legal 1000-mile EV concept also uses F1 aerodynamics and battery technology.

      3) honestly, it’s hard to say. With electrification the huge thing that motorsport has pushed forward is regeneration. Energy recovery had stagnated at 70-90kW (the same a Prius has had forever) but you’re now seeing cars pushing the window with several hundred kW and the EQS up to nearly 300kW. That’s going to be incredibly important because battery cars are – at least for the moment, with lithium ion technology – heavier and so braking with regen is essential not just for extending range but because mechanical brakes would struggle to be responsive enough to stop something like the BMW iX promptly. It has up to 80% regen braking (the same ratio as a Formula E or Formula 1 car) so feels incredible as soon as you stamp on the pedal.

      Hope that makes sense!

      1. 😊wow, thank you so much!
        @hazelsouthwell could you pls write an article on the chips shortage, especially SiC? I think it’s hurting ev so hard.😭
        We’ve seen manufacturers in FE get hit by it. And i think part of the reason BBA leaving it is the lowered profit because of it.
        I think EV are growing so fast and sadly semiconductor industry just can’t keep up with it. And pandemic just makes it worse…

  2. So called “green technologies” just kill racing. Car without combustion engine has no soul.

    1. My own car, a Tesla Model 3, has more soul than any car I have owned since my minis. It’s also more fun to drive when I want it to be, and easier to drive when I want it to be. It costs far less to run, and I no longer have to queue up at petrol stations every could of weeks.

      Now, don’t get me wrong, take me back to the days of the Mini, the times when an engine was simple enough to work on and tune yourself, and it’s a different story. But todays road cars are mostly boxes on wheels with no personality IMHO.

      When it comes to racing, pure electric tech is not good enough for the top tiers yet. Formula E does a great job with what it has, but as inefficient as ICEs are, they completely outclass a pure electric drivetrain over F1 distances right now. But I don’t think modern ICEs have any more “soul” than their electric equivalents.

      1. I think for many electric will never be good enough for top tier racing no matter how fast it is. Would honestly rather go and watch the Silverstone Classic or other historic alternatives than the F1 or Le Mans in the future if it were electric. Unless by some miracle there is noise in the future.

        1. And that’s fine. I’m sure the same thing happened when people started motor racing: Some saw it as a replacement for horse racing, but stuck with the horses.

          If F1 stays with ICEs long term, I’m sure it will retain many fans, older ones especially. It will probably lose most motor manufacturers, and they will likely have to go to specialist suppliers to get ICEs (I reckon they’d end up with one supplier if the manufacturers aren’t in F1 anymore), but it would continue in some form. It is likely to become more “niche”, I believe. It is unlikely to retain anywhere near the revenue it is used to, nor will it retain the title of “the pinnacle of motorsport”, but it will continue.

          If F1 follows the manufacturers and goes electric (when ready), it will lose some “purists”, but it will retain the manufacturers, the money and, I suspect, most of the fans. We didn’t get the mass exodus of fans that many predicted when the Hybrids came in (with reduced noise), so I doubt we will lose that many for similar reasons if they go electric.

  3. Coventry Climax
    2nd February 2022, 13:33

    First of all, if it were possible to give you a hundred thumbs up for this article, I’d do so, @hazelsouthwell.

    Secondly, in answer to the headline question, the picture acoompanying your article actually already says it all: If F1 were indeed the frontrunner, the banner would have said something like ‘Powered by …, as of next year!’, instead of ‘Powered by hybrid since 2014’. That’s as dumb as a shops window claiming it was ‘est. 1948’. As if the same owner would still be there, and if he/she would, his/her ideas would at least be old fashioned and a most unlikely a candidate to be called those of a frontrunner.

    Lastly, if it’s true that FE holds ‘an exclusive contract with the FIA to serve as its only 100% electrical international single seater championship’, then with that decision, the FIA has already dug F1’s grave, or at least limited F1’s future options dramatically. There was a time when F1 stood for innovation, and the pinnacle of engineering wild ideas. Well, that playing field has certainly been limited by the FIA over the last couple of years.
    Goes to show -again- how shortsighted the FIA really are.
    On the other hand, nothing lives forever. And maybe it’s not even supposed to.

    And then, how I look at it currently: If the FIA does not come up with a more robust set of rules and structure and group of people to police it all, I couldn’t care less about what fuel or power plant formula they come up with, as I won’t be following the ‘sports’ anymore anyway.

    1. ah thank you, I appreciate that

      I think that F1 can definitely continue to amp up electrification. Although FE might have 100% electric exclusivity there’s plenty of room up to 99.9% of course and Formula 1 could be the place for ultra-high-end experimentation with battery technologies and even things like supercapacitors, which are currently prohibitively heavy for the amount of energy they store but with Lambo insisting on putting them in road(ish) cars are definitely something to explore. The fact F1 has its broader openness for technology, compared to FE’s relatively limited scope, means I think the two can coexist while both contributing to pushing forward technologies that in FE’s case are current to the road and in F1’s case could be looking at half a decade into the future.

      If they do it right, of course which. Well…

      1. @hazelsouthwell I am fairly sure Mazda already uses small supercapacitor systems on some of their “mild hybrid” cars (I believe that they first launched it on the Mazda 6 back in 2013), so Lamborghini is perhaps getting a bit more credit in your post than they deserve.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      2nd February 2022, 16:29

      I think the exclusivity deal with Formula E is just to protect them financially. If F1 suddenly said it was going 100% electric, Formula E would no longer have a reason to exist. At that point, they’ll say “ok well we have a contract that says only we can be 100% electric – how much are you offering us to rip it up?”

      1. Coventry Climax
        2nd February 2022, 19:02

        I have zero doubt that you are right about that. But again, it does -as usual, I would say- not put the FIA in the brightest of lights. It would mean they not only lack longterm insight, but are both shortsighted and unreliable.
        What doesn’t change is you have to go a long stretch to call them frontrunners. They themselves will probably say so, but to me that would just add a third and even worse characteristic: liars.

      2. 99% electric, 1% NOS – for some flames out the back for “the show” amirite?

        Or cold fusion reactor for each car. Yep that’s the one.

        But seriously I don’t expect electric to be the endgame. There’s a lot of problems in general with batteries and power sources, complexity and supporting technology and infrastructure.

        There is the opportunity to look further ahead. Some sort of eco fuel/electric/hydrogen hybrid situation promoting reusable fuel sources and technology together to deliver high performance racing.

  4. This means almost all hydrogen vehicles need an auxiliary battery, demanding resources as well as the precious metals

    And Lithium for batteries in purely electric cars is taken from thin air. Does anyone know how much clean water must be wasted (and it can never be recycled) to produce a ton of Lithium? I’ve read reports that about ~200 tons of water are necessary.

    During a production of any car, by the way, CO2 is emitted. And a lot of other waste, too.
    Batteries, for one, cannot be recycled or reused. At best, you can disassemble them, burn them and then dig a hole in the ground to put the waste into.

    If the manufacturers really want to help the environment, they should stop building cars. But it’s much easier to lie to people (who are lazy enough not to check the facts).

    PS: If you want to decrease the carbon footprint, don’t buy a new car – buy a used one.

    1. The idea that water can “never be recycled” defies physics to a spectacular degree but yes, it’s true that there are environmental issues connected to the use of water in lithium extraction, especially in the Atacama Desert in Chile. I write about lithium mining and the problems with it a lot – the good news is that battery technologies should move on from lithium dependence soon and also that even a very big EV does not need anything like a tonne of lithium for its battery.

      Converting and cleaning up used cars is, yes, more important; my car is a Renault Twingo that I’m hoping to drop a powertrain into. And things like promoting smaller batteries with faster charging etc are also very important.

      But – I did the maths on this extensively a few years ago – the biggest EV starts being carbon positive to the most efficient petrol car, even running the numbers on a dirty, coal fired grid (I used Arkansas’ – there aren’t that many left) a couple of months into their second year of running. Year one for the petrol car: 18.637 tons CO2, year one for the battery electric car: 18.99 tons CO2.

    2. Batteries, for one, cannot be recycled or reused.

      Not true. Many EV batteries are reused for static purposes already (e.g. home or grid storage, which we are going to need more of as we increase the amount we rely on renewable electrical generation), and there have been great advances in refurbing them and/or recycling components for use in transport applications, too. What you say was true a decade or so ago, but not any more.

      If the manufacturers really want to help the environment, they should stop building cars.

      True, but if no new cars are built, the number of cars available will fall, and the cost of used cars will increase. That would be good for the planet, but very bad for anyone living outside the centre of a big city where you need a car (or other powered vehicle) to get about.

      If you want to decrease the carbon footprint, don’t buy a new car – buy a used one.

      True, but if you are going to buy a new car, it is far better for the environment in the long term to buy an electric one than a petrol or diesel powered one.

    3. You say some correct things, but also die a few wrong things.

      PS: If you want to decrease the carbon footprint, don’t buy a new car – buy a used one.

      Absolutely true.

      Batteries, for one, cannot be recycled or reused. At best, you can disassemble them, burn them and then dig a hole in the ground to put the waste into.

      Pure nonsense.
      Batteries are already being reused, for example:

      Batteries can also be recycled:

      In 2035, over a fifth of the lithium and nickel and 65% of the cobalt required will come from reused EV batteries


      A Swedish battery maker has produced its first battery cell made with 100% recycled nickel, manganese and cobalt.
      Northvolt says its recycling process “recovers up to 95%” of the metals used in a battery

      When mining will become more expensive due to the environmental laws, industry will shift to recycling.

      How much of the burned gasoline or diesel can be recycled? Yes, that’s right: 0%

  5. Times have changed.

    Street car technologies are more heavily motivated by country politics, safety, environment and other agendas, than they were in the past. Many of these issues are not relevant in motorsport. What we end up with is motorsport trying to stay relevant with the street cars!

  6. And although the output from a fuel cell vehicle is clean, extracting and refining hydrogen for vehicle use is problematic. Hydrogen can be gained from splitting water using renewable electricity but it’s sourced almost entirely from fossil fuels currently.

    Remember also that, even when Hydrogen is produced by splitting water, it takes several times as much energy to do so as can be recovered from the Hydrogen which is produced. So, to power hydrogen vehicles in an environmentally friendly manner will require us to produce much more electricity from renewable sources than we would with battery powered vehicles.

    1. @drmouse – 100%, H2 is currently a very inefficient alternative to batteries (as well as having huge storage problems) on pretty much every level. Most of the interest in it is driven by the Australian (who’ve just done a deal to supply the UK with it) and Japanese governments funding automakers to push it forwards. Toyota, in particular, have been very manipulative (lobbying against battery electric vehicle subsidies in the US, etc) to push forward an H2 agenda despite their recent pivot to announcing BEVs.

      1. It would seem that H2 is primarily being promoted by various governments under the guise of it being a fuel, it isn’t. Naturally, with funding flowing accordingly. Yep, there is money to be made here.
        As for the overall efficiency of an H2 cycle for vehicles, once you consider what it takes to produce it, clean, dehydrate and compress it, then run it through a fuel cell to produce a fraction of the electrical power that was invested, the net efficiency will be well under 20%.
        Had the opportunity to work on an H2 project where the feed was free. No charge, and even with that, you couldn’t make an economic case to run the process.
        Charging batteries looks incredibly efficient in comparison.

        1. This reminds me of how people talked about photovoltaic power in the 1970s. Hydrogen powered cars could become viable if electrolyzer and fuel cell / engine efficiencies increase. Actually one of the greatest problems with hydrogen energy is rarely discussed by laypersons – the flames are not visible until something else starts burning. I am very interested in how they will handle this at Le Mans when the category starts.

          1. True enough, but I don’t think anyone is suggesting that we stop research into H2 for energy storage, just that it is not viable right now. This is the same as, like you said, solar power a few decades ago, or BEVs 20 years ago. It makes a great deal of sense to continue research in the hope that, one day, the efficiencies will improve to the point of being viable.

      2. @hazelsouthwell there is also the point that Australia and Japan have a joint dependency on each other for the use of hydrogen, in part because both of them have a dependency on coal.

        The Japanese government has made several large investments in coal burning power plants – 22 over the last decade – and also invested in the Australian coal mining industry to maintain shipments of coal from Australia to Japan, given Japan is the third largest importer of coal in the world. On the other side of the equation, Japan has become the most important export market for the Australian coal industry, and that’s grown in recent years as China has cut back on imports of Australian coal as diplomatic ties have cooled.

        Japan thus has a large amount of capital tied up in power plants that it doesn’t want to see become stranded assets, whilst Australia doesn’t want to lose a major trade partner for its mining industry. That has seen Japan push for the use of ammonia and hydrogen, because it’s easier (although probably not cheaper) to switch over to using that instead – something which suits the Australians as well, since the Japanese are using Australian coal in that process.

  7. One issue being overlooked is how efficiently the supply of lithium is being used. Take for example your 400-500km range EV has a battery that could supply 10 hybrid cars. 10 cars using their battery on the short stop/start trips that most drivers take saves more petrol than 1 driver using only a fraction of the car’s range most of the time.

    1. TBH, I have often said that the ideal would be for people to buy smaller, shorter range EVs (most people do less than 30 miles per day the vast majority of the time), then hire larger vehicles with longer ranges when they need them. I know people who justify owning a large gas-guzzling SUV because they need to to tow a caravan twice a year, and I own an EV which doesn’t use more than 20% between charges more than a couple of times per month.

      However, at the moment, the entire economy of the car market is geared around ownership of one vehicle you will use for everything. Owning a small, electric city car to take care of 90+% of your use and hiring something else when you need it is significantly more expensive than just buying one vehicle, along with the major hassle involved of finding what you need when you do need something bigger.

    2. Coventry Climax
      2nd February 2022, 14:35

      But how is that different to the IC cars we currently have? All of our commuting can easily be done in simple 800cc (or even less) cars. With hardly any travel time lost, if not even gained by having a much quicker refuelling, we (almost) all still strive to have the biggest 3.0 ltr cars available and come up with the most ridiculous excuses why we should need them.
      Also, and in line with hat you’re saying, there’s global counterproductive legislation. Do you ever, ever come across a car review that states how much it weighs? If you’re lucky, they might talk about how much weight was saved over the previous model, but that doesn’t actually say a lot, does it? It’s always about the power the engine delivers, and about the 0-60mph time. And lately gas mileage or radius comes into play. What is really important though, is the power to weight ratio, as that determines intrinsically how much energy is needed to move it, together with the occupant(s), from A to B. Laws to limit the weight of a car would be most helpful. We have laws against all sorts of ‘unneccessary’ things, it’s time we get laws against the unneccesary spilling of energy, as a crime against population.
      Another solution would be to mix the birth-control pill into our drinking water ofcourse, as all of our problems are due to there being too many people on this rock.

      1. How is that different you ask? The resource difference in making a 1 L engine vs a 3 or 4 or 5L engine is not significant and for an EV, the capability of traveling 50km vs 200 vs 500 is a comparatively massive difference in resources at the time of manufacture.

        1. But the resources used over even the first couple of years of life can be massive, particularly using the big 3l SUV for mostly short journeys in heavy traffic. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the difference is very similar, when you take the overall difference in resources used by a small 1l car vs 3l SUV after 1-2 years compared to the difference in resources used by a small mild hybrid car vs large long range EV over the same timeframe.

      2. The issue is, as legislation gets more and more strict with regards to both occupancy and pedestrian safety, cars HAVE to be made bigger, loaded with more kit and, subsequently, heavier.

        And that’s before we even get onto the competition between manufactures with regards to “percieved quality” – all those plush materials and creature comforts add yet more weight.

        I mean, all this talk either way is moot until the infrastructure is in place to support mass EV rollout – I live in central Cambridge and even the normal petrol stations are mobbed at peak times (it took 15 minutes just to get to a pump this morning). How much of a complete mess is it going to be when everyone has to faff about with cables, different charging standards/speeds AND waiting the minimum 20-25 minutes needed to get to 80% charge??

        1. Last year, I visited a public charging point about half a dozen times, all on long journeys. The vast majority of the time, I charged overnight. This is the model we need for mass EV rollout. We need charging where people park their vehicles. Overnight, at work, in supermarkets, wherever an EV will be parked for more than about an hour near to an electrical supply, it makes sense to have a charger.

          Expecting EVs to operate the same as a petrol car, charged only once every week or two, fast, is the worst, most expensive, least efficient, and least environmentally friendly option. Fast charging should be for those (for most people) rare occasions where long distance travel is required.

          1. That’s the issue though – how much of the driving population, percentage wise, have the capacity to charge at home overnight? Or leave their car charging slowly while at work? I would say a solid 50-60% (maybe even more) of cars in Cambridge are parked on street overnight.

            I work on an industrial estate that has NO charge points, barring the 1 the boss had installed personally so he could charge after communiting up from London.

          2. petebaldwin (@)
            2nd February 2022, 16:45

            @joeypropane – It’s a huge issue. Where I live, I don’t see how it would be possible. I park on the street and can’t always park directly outside of my house. There would have to be millions of charging point installed along every residential road where people don’t have driveways or garages. The cost to install and maintain them would be eye watering. It’s not just as simple as a cable because how would you charge people for the electricity used? You couldn’t just charge a flat fee because different homes have different amounts and types of cars….

            It’s an issue I’ve never heard a satisfactory answer to. If you have a driveway or park in a car park, it’s manageable but that’s not how huge parts of the UK are.

          3. Most streets have lighting, and it would not be difficult or expensive to provide charge points on the street lamps, including a method to accept payments. Most workplace and public car parks could relatively easily and cheaply be fitted with chargers, too. Yes, it would be expensive initially, but it certainly isn’t an absolute blocker, and something like it will be needed eventually (having most people charging less often using very high power chargers is not viable, and nor is continuing to use dinosaur juice, biofuels, synthetic fuels or hydrogen long term).

          4. @drmouse In general I’m in complete agreement with everything you say. But… street lights are not a complete solution, there simply aren’t enough of them. For example, my road, a fairly typical suburban road is ~200m long and has ~30 semi-detached houses down each side. So that’s 400m of street parking and assuming each house has one car, 60 cars to park and charge (which also gives a reasonably generous 6.67m parking space per car). Realistically you could only plug in 2 cars at a time to each street light, maybe 3 but the middle car will have cables from the other two trailing alongside it.

            There are 6 street lights total. 2 of the street lights are on the house side of the pavement, not the road side, so you’d have cables trailing across the pavement.

            I’m not saying streetlights are not part of the solution, I think it’s a good idea, but it’s not quite that simple unfortunately – there will be extra infrastructure required.

          5. @gdog true enough. I wasn’t suggesting that they were the only solution, though, just that they offer at least a very good starting point for on-street EV charging.

        2. I own an electric car and almost never use public charging stations. I charge my car every day at home. Part of the advantage of electric is that you don’t need to have a petrol station nearby; your home already has the fuel for your car delivered to it. Granted, not everyone will be able to do that because they may not have a garage with power, but I think a significant number of people will, which will reduce the burden on the public infrastructure charging stations. And anywhere where electricity is delivered has the same ability. Hotels, markets, parking garages, etc. in my area all have electric car charging stations available for use.

          When I go on long-distance trips, I do need to rely on the public infrastructure charging stations, like I would have done with traditional fuel, but those times are rare and the vast majority of the time I am not relying on dedicating stations devoted to fueling my car like the traditional model of petrol/diesel stations currently has.

          1. I think saying

          2. Take 2!

            I think saying a “significant number” of people can charge overnight at home is being massively ambitious – it definitely isn’t the case in Cambridge, where it’s at least 50% narrow terraces and on street parking.

          3. @joeypropane. Fair enough. But I think the number of places that have the opportunity to charge a car with electricity are far greater than petrol, even if you can’t charge at home. That should reduce the burden on dedicated charging stations that exist in the model of traditional petrol stations.

          4. @joeypropane the “off-peack” time for electricity use when electricity is cheaper is traditionally during the night. Do you think this will reverse when you now have a few million EVs plugged in and charging?

          5. In city centres etc, places where it is already a struggle to own and use a car, it will continue to be. However, much of the UK isn’t like that, and even in those places things can be done to mitigate the issue. None of this is insurmountable.

        3. Coventry Climax
          2nd February 2022, 19:24

          Hey, mrMuffins, I was not opposed to your input in the first place, but you seem to have missed that.
          To some (most?) of the others above:
          It never stops amazing me how people are able to come up with supposed ‘problems’ to avoid having to change what they are used to, or just to do away with an idea someone has come up with.
          There’s solutions for anything, as long as you’re willing to listen and try.

          That should be enough said, but I’ll give you one already existing solution to your lack of charging stations in cities, (as if such a ‘problem’ would be static and unsolvable): A conversion set for lamp-posts. Or do you claim there’s not enough of those too?

  8. Thanks for the article, Hazel! A really interesting topic.

    With FE’s lock on 100% electrification for a while and with everyone acknowledging that the race cars themselves are a tiny fraction of the carbon problem in racing, do you think there is an opportunity for the FIA to regulate the technology in the motorhomes, shipping trucks, etc. that are the part of the periphery of the F1 circus? This aspect is probably more immediately relevant to the technology on the roads and highways every day than what is on the race track these days.

    1. @g-funk yeah, I think this is going to become really important.

      Both F1 and Formula E (and maybe other series but I know for sure both F1 and FE reported this with a measurable impact) have made a lot of their broadcast facilities remote and reduced the number of personnel travelling to tracks. Teams in FE (which has never had motorhomes etc anyway) have been heavily restricted with the number of personnel they can take (17 garage staff + 2 drivers & team principal/person acting in team principal role) – with F1’s budget cap, I suspect that the days of 25-truck motorhomes may be significantly numbered. McLaren were very pleased, last year, to bring theirs down to “just” eight and honestly, that’s still obscene.

      On the other hand, FE actually did lose at least one manufacturer by refusing to let them have these sort of ridiculous brand statements to host their VIPs in. So F1 will struggle to break teams’ affection for them, despite the massive costs. But it feels very important that, as you say, haulage and transport is addressed – not just for the motorhomes but for the whole circus, nonsensical globe-hopping like the Mexico-Brazil-Qatar triple header won’t get any more palatable.

  9. @drmouse understandable but that was not the issue I was addressing. A hybrid that scarcely uses its ICE over the course of a common short drive doesn’t make much of a difference on the size of the engine except on the rarer long distance drives.

    The large capacity EV uses significant lithium resources whether it is driven or not.

    1. That’s true, but the same is true for many things. It’s all a balance of competing needs. I know many plug-in hybrid owners who never plug them in, and they are not much more efficient than a regular ICE vehicle when used that way. They have used “significant lithium resources” for, effectively, no benefit. I also know people with hybrids who use them for longer distances several times a week, and it would be better for the planet for them to have a long-range EV.

      Also, any car has used significant resources whether driven or not. Judging a vehicle by how bad it is if someone chooses to spend tens of thousands on it and then leave it in a garage for the next decade is always going to give a terrible picture.

      1. @drmouse the current attitude is that plug in hybrids are probably worse for the environment overall – you have used the resources to produce that hybrid system but, as most people rarely bother to charge it, most of the time you are not getting the potential benefits from it. That type of hybrid drive system, therefore, is actively detrimental.

        1. But there is little-to-no benefit from a “regular” hybrid system, either. All the energy still comes from burning dinosaur juice at low efficiencies. You may gain a small amount back from the (tiny) battery storage, but it is negligible in the grand scheme of things. You’d be better off, in most cases, with an efficient pure ICE, and much better off with a real EV if used and sized correctly.

          That said, much of the time it is not the vehicle which causes the problem but the behaviour of the owner/driver. Of course a PHEV is going to be worse than a standard hybrid if you don’t plug it in, but why on earth are you buying a PHEV if you are not going to plug it in?!

  10. I live in the U.S. and have to disagree with the statement that internal combustion cars will be banned here in 2035; that is just not true. I think this is what you are referring to, from the Reuters news agency December 8, 2021:

    The U.S. government plans to end purchases of gas-powered vehicles by 2035 in a move to lower emissions and promote electric cars under an executive order signed by President Joe Biden on Wednesday. The government owns more than 650,000 vehicles and purchases about 50,000 annually.

    1. Banned from sale, rather than banned as a whole. (As I put in the article, plenty will still be on roads)

      1. No, they are not banned for sale in the U.S. in 2035. New York, California, and Massachusetts are effectively banning them, but this only applies to those three states. 12 governors of states have asked Biden to impose such a ban, but Congress would have to pass legislation to do this and that pretty much won’t happen.

        Governors of 12 US states are campaigning for President Biden to take a leaf out of California and Washington’s play book, and ban combustion engined cars by 2035.

        The states campaigning for the move are: California, New York, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington State, and Rhode Island.

        1. Sure SteveR.

          But many car companies will have stopped investing in new combustion tech years before and while some may consider selling old models on in some states (it would still greatly hurt CO2/km numbers that are calculated per company and strictly regulated with heavy fines for too high averages), in general if the biggest markets stop allowing sale of such cars, the manufacturers just won’t be that interested in building them.

          Remember, they will at the same time have to invest heavily into development and manufacturing capacities of NEW EVs, while being burdened by maintaining old, inefficient, dirty (and often unionized) plants where they built those old cars.

        2. CA passed minimum emissions standards more than a decade ago but it was going to hurt the profits of car companies so the EPA (a captured agency run by those it is tasked to regulate) put an end to that.

          With our government as crazy as it is I doubt this ban will be in place in 2035, let alone it be adopted by the federal government. The most popular cars in the US now are giant gas guzzling trucks. The identity of a lot of American men is tied to how big and loud their vehicles are. If government officials decide to require vehicles have low emissions or not have internal combustion engines they will find re-election difficult in most parts of the country.

          1. Yep, totally agree, which is why I wrote

            …..but Congress would have to pass legislation to do this and that pretty much won’t happen.

            There is another issue though, and that is electric vehicle range and charging stations. 2035 is of course pretty far off and battery technology may radically improve, but please remember that America is a very large country and when traveling range is an issue, as is recharge time and opportunity. I drove my daughter from Vermont to Washington after grad school and encountered stretches in the Dakotas and Montana/Idaho where the need to travel long distances was vital. Had we been in an electric vehicle the trip would have possibly been very difficult.

            I drove with my brother to central Oregon (Bend area) to observe the total eclipse (which was amazing) and returning to Washington observed the line of Tesla’s at the Columbia River waiting to recharge to finish their trip to Portland. It was not a pretty sight and there were some very long waits. Yes, that was an exceptional event, but the infrastructure needs serious updating if EVs are going to be mandatory in the future.

            I also travel from Washington to the Bay area (San Francisco) down through rural Oregon and need to make the trip quickly as well as carry equipment for my business. No electric vehicle is capable, now, of meeting my needs. Maybe there will be technical innovations that mitigate these issues, maybe not. Electric vehicles are obviously a good choice for local travel, but for big trips, not so much.

      2. Also, I believe that most of the plans are for ending sale of pure ICE cars. I suspect hybrids will be around for a lot longer, though I also expect more “green taxes” to be levied on dinosaur juice to encourage a changeover.

        1. Coventry Climax
          2nd February 2022, 19:57

          I hope you are right, with your expectation of increased green taxes.
          In that respect, it would make sense to abolish all taxes except the one on fuel(s). Don’t know what the price should be, but say it’s 10 Euro or Dollar per litre. There will be a lot of people that leave their car where it is, and do their simple shopping on a bicycle, despite the drizzle. And it’s fair too; you’re rewarded for buying a fuel (whatever type) efficient type of car. And if you want to drive a big Hummer, running 2 litres a km, fine, but you pay the price.
          Like a thunder, I can hear the objections rumbling in the distance already, but there’s always solutions to compensate e.g. the transport sector, like the ‘green’ diesel we have for the agricultural sector.
          As it stands however, most countries have a one-time tax for a new car, depending on it’s CO2 emissions and a monthly road-tax, based on the vehicle’s weight. Then there’s talks about taxing driving in rush hour, or other certain hours of the day. All these are utterly pointless ofcourse, in terms of environmental issues, they are just there to bring money into the treasury.
          We’ll see, but I wouldn’t bet my money on fair green taxes.

          1. TBH, I would strongly support changing vehicle taxation to all be on the fuel. Even just the savings on admin would make this worth it, although there would probably need to be a way for HGVs etc to be handled differently.

            However, we do need to think about this in a fair manner, too. Remember that the most efficient vehicles will be the newest, and their cost will be out of reach for many on lower incomes. They rely on being able to purchase older vehicles, and older vehicles use more fuel, so they will be hit harder than the better off who can afford more efficient vehicles. They could end up being priced off the road, so only the well off can afford to drive, which is just making the inequalities in society worse. Where I live, a fairly “working class” area, public transport is dire and everything is far enough away, with steep hills, that walking and cycling are not viable options unless you are really committed. If the people here are unable to use cars, their quality of life of many will take a massive dive.

  11. playstation361
    2nd February 2022, 15:20

    Depends. Certain things change at certain places.

  12. F1 is dependent on TV ratings. Ratings determine how much money flows into F1, and the manufacturers will follow high TV ratings.

    Ratings depend on the spectacle.

    1980’s Group B rally was impractical, but manufacturers flocked to the formula because of ratings, which were high because of the spectacle created by Group B.

    So if F1 wants to stay “relevant” it needs to focus on the spectacle of its product; that is handsome drivers, fast cars, and an engine so loud it shakes your rib cage.

  13. I’ll keep saying this, why would Audi/Porsche/VW/VAG whatever they want to be called want to invest in an ICE platform for 2026? Why would anyone want to remain in F1 if its all going to get banned?

    Will new ICE running Synthetic fuels be exempt? Can’t see the logic of spending hundreds of millions of Euros to develop a technology that will be outdated (by law) in under a decade.

    I feel that the future of racing is virtual. When this ESG business becomes mandatory (not sure if it already is at this point), companies may not want to associated with a business that spends a large part of its calendar year moving equipment and people around the world. The effort required to neutralise/offset the emissions may be counter productive.

    Other than endurance racing, which may still be a test bed for practical vehicle technology of the day, all formula series could very well be virtual in 20 years time. There is a good chance that the core audience of F1 at the time will be plugged in to the Metaverse anyways, so it could all work out.

  14. Porsche’s investments in ICE, and synthetic fuels, Porsche doesn’t seem to think so.

    Given that there is barely enough lithium in the world for 3 billion 100 kwh batteries, and that lithium is barely recycled and very difficult and expensive to recycle.
    How long is electrifying everything with lithiumbatteries going to hold?
    It’s not sustainable. We can’t destroy the entire natural environment on this planet to mine every ounce of the lithium reserve. So you are going to need a mix energy carriers.
    Just having tunnel vision on a singular tech is exactly the type of behavior that got humans into this problem in the first place.

    1. You’re letting reality get in the way mate. Just don’t and you will be fine.

  15. Sergey Martyn
    3rd February 2022, 10:16

    Well, I don’t wanna see a grandstand full of Greta Tundberg and her dull fans combined with a silence of electro cars. I remember last year when I overslept the beginning of morning practice sessions and was awakened by the sound of F3 engines couple of miles away from the track. And I just love the smell of burning high octane fuel in the morning.

  16. I hardly think it is feasible at the moment to switch to a full landscape of electrical vehicles, as the power grid is not capable of delivering the needed power yet. So first the grid has to be upgraded, before we can think sbout a ban on comustion engines.

    Already in some countries there are problems with delivering the power, as the grid is not capable of handling that much in- or output.

    So, I think some other alternatives, beside fuel cells, are needed, like synthetic fuels or something like that. It also makes for a much greater switch to green energy as it can be used in the current combustion cars.

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