The motorsport industry is uniquely positioned to help develop and transfer advanced energy efficiency concepts into normal road going cars, argued Peter Digby, chairman of the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA) and managing director of Xtrac, at an inaugural Energy Efficient Motorsport Conference held today, prior to the American Le Mans Series 12-hour endurance race at Sebring.
As an international entertainment industry with millions of fans globally, motorsport also has the potential to inform and educate worldwide audiences regarding energy efficient technologies and green issues facing the automotive sector, he said.
The MIA event was supported by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), Shell, UK Trade & Investment and Xtrac. Xtrac is a transmission provider that supplies both to the motorsport industry as well as to energy efficiency projects. Working closely with Zytek—another company with a strong motorsport pedigree—the two companies produced a diesel-electric plug-in hybrid variant of the smart car. (Earlier post.)
|The plug-in diesel hybrid.|
The low cost system was prepared for assessment by car manufacturers in a prototype vehicle that fully meets the requirements of the UK government’s Ultra Low Carbon Car Challenge. This initiative is aimed at producing a vehicle with exceptionally low CO2 emissions of less than 100g/km, equivalent to a fuel consumption of at least 3.8 l/100km (62 mpg US). Moreover, it does so without compromising the driveability, performance, comfort, features and safety expected from a car in this segment.
With depleting oil reserves and climate change top of the political agenda, energy efficiency is hugely important. If we don’t do anything about these issues our society will change significantly.
New technical solutions being proposed have to be accepted by the consumer and this is where motorsport has a key role to play. Motorsport is a highly popular form of entertainment with huge following worldwide and ideally placed to promote energy efficient technology. Motorsport engineers are also used to rapid product development and can apply their skills to help speed up the introduction of new energy efficient technologies to normal road vehicles.—Peter Digby
Digby said motor racing has rapidly accelerated gear design, manufacture and materials development with more efficient, compact and lightweight transmissions able to handle much higher levels of power and torque—the latest F1 gearboxes are smaller and almost half the mass, yet handle virtually twice the power.
Minimizing weight and frictional losses throughout the vehicle has a direct impact on carbon emissions and fuel efficiency and gaining extra mileage is as important to motor racing as it is to normal road cars.
Xtrac is also working on combining mechanical flywheel systems for energy efficient power density management with the engine and transmission, according to Digby, referring to recent regulation changes in F1, which permit the use of brake regeneration systems from 2009. (Earlier post.)
The MIA Energy Efficient Motorsport (EEMS) conference showcased, for the first time to a US and international senior executive audience, continuing motorsport industry development activity in energy efficiency within the competitive world of motorsport.