Formula E ‘Virtual Championship’ to Take Place on Forza 6

Not content in running only in the real world, Formula E, the racing series for specially designed electric cars, will be running a ‘virtual championship’ that will take the form of a month-long eSports tournament on the popular racing sim, Forza Motorsport 6. The event will begin next weekend and take place across four rounds, with the ending set to coincide with the end of Formula E’s second real-life season. The prize up for grabs will be a share of a pot of €15,000, awarded as part of the final weekend of the series’ season.

Formula E’s cars were already added to Forza 6 last year, shortly before the game’s release and have already gathered popularity due to a number of Formula E events that have been held in the game over the length of the season. These “Race Off” events took place in real life, inviting gamers, YouTube personalities and even the real world Formula E drivers together to face off against each other in the game.

Unlike those events, the new “Pro Series” will take place entirely virtually, with each round providing competitors with a week to run time trials using the Formula E cars. After the event starts on the 24th, players will be able to join a special rivals event from the in-game Xbox Live lobby and compete for the best laps. When the first round ends on March 31st, those with the 10 best laps will be chosen to participate in a virtual final on April 2nd. This format will repeat 3 more times, with the last round ending on June 2nd. The top 2 from each round’s final will then be invited to London to go head to head with each other for a share of the €15,000.

It is exciting to see Formula E becoming so invested in engaging in the virtual as well as the real and makes many of the more traditional racing series look even more outdated by comparison. With AI racing already in the works and now a virtual racing championship, what exciting new ideas will Formula E come up with next?

Tesla Model S to Feature in New All-Electric Racing Series

This week, Electric GT Holdings has announced the Electric GT World Series will be starting in 2017, with the company hoping to have 10 teams on the grid for its first season. Each team will be fielding 20 cars across 7 races during this opening season, and as a GT will only allow the teams to use production cars that are available for road use. As a result, all 20 cars will be the same: The Tesla Model S.

The version of the Model S that the teams will be using is specifically a near-production version of the now-discontinued Tesla Model S P85+. Compared to newer models of the popular electric sports car, the P85+was very much performance-designed. Packing 310 kilowatts of power and 443 pound-feet of torque, all delivered through one rear-wheel driving motor which was able to get from 0-60 in 2.8 seconds. The rear-wheel drive Model S was chosen over the all-wheel drive models as they would be less complex to maintain by the teams. The batteries in these vehicles also put Formula E cars to shame, able to carry a whopping 85 kWh compared to the 28 kWh of Formula E. Obviously under race conditions, the cars won’t maintain the 250 mile range claimed by Tesla on the road, but it should certainly allow them to compete on longer, faster tracks than those used for Formula E which mostly uses street circuits.

As far as modifications go, the teams will be running a mostly stock version of the P85+, with adjustments to some key places to be implemented in order to make them better in the race. The brakes and aerodynamics are being tweaked to improve grip and deceleration, while the suspension, brake cooling and steering will be strengthened, on top of a general weight reduction. Everything else under the hood will remain unchanged from the stock specification.

Electric GT Holdings is yet to announce a race calendar for the 2017 season, however, plans are already in place for the season to start in Europe, before moving on to North America and Asia. The tracks are, hopefully, to include a number of world-class circuits including Barcelona-Catalunya, Donnington Park, Nürburgring and hopefully many more famous motorsport locations.

Daimler Chief Thinks EVs Will Beat Hydrogen-Powered Cars

Electric vehicles are definitely gaining some traction (pun intended), all thanks to the efforts of automakers such as Tesla, BMW and Daimler. Speaking of Daimler, chief Dieter Zetsche has recently stated in an interview that EVs are more likely to come out on top in the face of hydrogen fuel cell cars, at least according to his opinion. Even though cars running on hydrogen fuel cells are just as practical and eco-friendly as their electric-powered counterparts, companies have been focusing on the development of EVs more, and it shows. For example, Tesla’s Model S, which is currently available for order, boasts a range of over 528 km (328 miles) and can perform a 0 to 60 mph sprint in just 3 seconds.

On the other hand, the hydrogen fuel cell-powered Toyota Mirai can go for 300 miles on a single “charge,” which is still respectable. The difference is that electric cars are currently much more popular, and if things don’t change soon, EVs have a good chance to become the new standard in the coming decades. When it comes to mass-producing these cars and retailing them, Germany plans to put 1 million EVs on the streets by 2020, but that’s not going to be easy. One obvious way to do it would be to lean on the government and ask for subsidies, but Zetsche believes that this can’t be considered a long-term solution, which is why he’s putting his faith in even more impressive technological advancements.

Electric Mercedes-Benz Cars Will Soon Become Available

It looks like Tesla might receive some serious competition soon, as Mercedes-Benz is about to release its own electric car that’s aimed to go against the impressive Tesla Model S. The research director over at Mercedes-Benz, Thomas Weber, has stated that the new car will be available “soon”, but we’ll probably find out more about the vehicle’s availability at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show. Speaking of this particular event, this is where Audi plans to unveil its E-Tron Quattro concept car, which will be a completely electric SUV aimed to compete against the Tesla Model X. BMW might not be far behind in the electric car segment, as some reports suggest that its experts are working on electric cars based on the i5 model.

As government emissions standards are becoming more and more demanding, Daimler-Benz is investing heavily in the development of low-emission technologies, electric vehicle batteries and lithium-ion batteries. This is good news for those of you who were planning to switch over to an electric vehicle in the following years, as competition between the German automakers and Tesla is bound to result in lower prices and more innovative features.

Would you buy an electric Mercedes-Benz car or do you believe that conventional engines are still the way to go?

Image courtesy of Autoblog.

New UK Road Charges Your Electric Car as it Drives

With the electric car market set to explode, the biggest worry for petrol engine drivers thinking of transitioning is ‘range anxiety’ – or, ‘how far can I get on a single battery charge?’ – since charging points are hardly as common as the traditional petrol pump. A new endeavour in the UK, however, could change all that. Highways England, the government body responsible for road maintenance in the UK, is set to trial a special motorway lane designed to charge electric cars as they drive later this year.

“Vehicle technologies are advancing at an ever increasing pace and we’re committed to supporting the growth of ultra-low emissions vehicles on England’s motorways and major A roads,” Mike Wilson, Highways England Chief Highways Engineer, said in a press statement. “The off-road trials of wireless power technology will help to create a more sustainable road network for England and open up new opportunities for businesses that transport goods across the country.”

The tests is set to last around 18 months before on-road testing begins, so we’ll be waiting at least a year-and-a-half until we see the technology implemented on UK motorways and dual carriageways. Despite the special lane, though, Highways England is also committed to installing plug-in charging facilities for electric cars every 48km (nearly 30 miles) along major motorways.

Thank you ScienceAlert for providing us with this information.

Elon Musk Nearly Sold Tesla to Google in 2013

Back in 2013, when Elon Musk’s Tesla electric motor car company was on the verge of bankcruptcy, the business was nearly sold to Google, according to an excerpt from the forthcoming biography of Musk.

The excerpt from Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future was featured on Bloomberg Business, and revealed that Musk approached his friend Larry Page, Google’s Chief Executive, about a potential $6 billion bailout for his flailing company, which was suffering poor sales, technical faults, and production issues:

Earlier in 2013 the company was struggling to turn preorders of its vehicles into actual sales. As Musk put his staff on crisis footing to save Tesla, he also began negotiating a deal to sell the company to Google through his friend Larry Page, the search giant’s co-founder and chief executive officer, according to two people with direct knowledge of the deal. Tesla spokesman Ricardo Reyes and Google spokeswoman Rachel Whetstone declined to comment. “I don’t want to speculate on rumors,” Page said when I asked him if Google had considered buying Tesla, adding that a “car company is pretty far from what Google knows.”

The chapter goes on to explain that though Musk was reluctant to sell Tesla, firing senior executives to replace them with hungry juniors in a desperate effort to save the car manufacturer, by March 2013 he was actively courting Google:

In the first week of March 2013, Musk reached out to Page, say the two people familiar with the talks. By that point, so many customers were deferring orders that Musk had quietly shut down Tesla’s factory. Considering his straits, Musk drove a hard bargain. He proposed that Google buy Tesla outright — with a healthy premium, the company would have cost about $6 billion at the time — and pony up another $5 billion in capital for factory expansions. He also wanted guarantees that Google wouldn’t break up or shut down his company before it produced a third-generation electric car aimed at the mainstream auto market. He insisted that Page let him run a Google-owned Tesla for eight years, or until it began pumping out such a car. Page accepted the overall proposal and shook on the deal.

After a “frenzy of sales calls”, Musk was able to save the company, with sales of the Model S electric car skyrocketing. Two weeks later, shares in Tesla had doubled and the company had paid back a $465 million loan to the US Department of Energy, turning the business into the success story we’re familiar with today.

Thank you Bloomberg Business for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Amazon.

New Entry-Level Four-Wheel Drive Tesla Sedan Ups Range to 240 Miles

Tesla’s new entry-level sedan, the Model S 70D, brings four-wheel drive, twin motors, and an increased range, but for an extra $5,000. The 70D offers a significant upgrade from its predecessor, the 60D, which was rear-wheel drive and had a single motor.

The more powerful 70D has a combined 514 horsepower, a top speed of 140mph, and goes from 0-60 in 5.2 seconds. The two battery motors, one a massive 70kWh pack, can drive the car to an impressive EPA-rated 240 mile range. The 70D also has access to Tesla’s Supercharger network, which can recharge a cars battery within a matter of minutes.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk says that the 70D marks a “slight price increase, but [a] huge value increase,” adding that, “Customers wanted something that had more range and they really wanted all-wheel drive.”

The Model S 70D goes on sale today – available in ocean blue, obsidian black, and warm silver – with shipments due at the end of May.

Source: The Verge

Virgin’s Richard Branson Hints at Tesla Rival

Richard Branson is a man who loves having his fingers in as many pies as possible, and it seems he’s pushing his thumb into the pastry of electric cars, suggesting that his company Virgin may soon be competing with Elon Musk’s Tesla electric car manufacturer.

Branson, in an interview with Bloomberg, said that his Virgin racing outfit has “teams of people working on electric cars,” and that, “you never know—you may find Virgin competing with the Tesla in the car business as we do in the space business. We will see what happens.”

Virgin Racing Engineering is already working on a new electric vehicle platform which it intends to enter in Formula E, the new electric car racing league. Virgin will be joining the roster of ten teams next season.

Source: TechCrunch

London Circuit for Formula E Electric Car Racing Revealed

The London race track circuit for the first Formula E racing season has been unveiled. The final rounds of the electric motor racing series will take place in London on 27th and 28th June. The 3km route has 15 corners, running through the Battersea Park region of South London.

Driver Sam Bird, part of the Virgin Racing Team, was impressed, saying the track has, “fast straights, high-speed bends, as well as some challenging chicanes and braking zones.” Bird added, “The track is in the beautiful Battersea Park, right next to the River Thames, just across from Chelsea and with some of the most famous features of London’s skyline in the background. I think the London ePrix spectators will be treated to some close, fast racing with plenty of action and overtaking.”

The FIA Formula E Championship started in September 2014 in China, and the season will take drivers to such far-flung countries as Argentina, Monaco and Germany.

The CEO of Formula E, Alejandro Agag, said,  “Having two races in London – the final two of the season – was an option we discussed at length with Wandsworth Council and means that London could well be where the inaugural champion is crowned, making it a fantastic spectacle for the city and a great platform to showcase sustainable mobility and clean energy.”

“We will now begin preparations for bringing urban electric racing to London but of course that means working closely with all parties and local residents’ groups to ensure that we remain sympathetic to all park users.”

Source: BBC