Formula E Takes the Pole Position


One of the major issues in hosting Formula One races in America’s thoroughfares, is the noise of these high performance vehicles make when making their way through the course. One maverick racer though would make this a thing of the past if given the chance. If Alejandro Agag has his way, he would race electric cars on America’s streets.

Agag is the current CEO of Formula E Holdings and is now in the process of creating a global racing circuit that utilizes battery powered racing vehicles designed after their more successful gasoline powered Formula One cousins. The electric vehicles would definitely be cleaner and quieter as well as be the venue for many innovations and vanguard technologies for autos in general. Agag has already obtained investments as much as US$100 million from Spanish real estate mogul Enrique Bañuelos and is continuing to market further investments from ten cities located all over the globe. Many of these target cities are in the United States and the first race is scheduled to run by 2014.

Agag has also been in talks with FIA, the governing authority of Formula One, to lend its blessing to Formula E. There is already a prototype vehicle named EF01 and was built by French firm Formulec, a subsidiary of Formula E Holdings. What remains is the permission from the world’s metropolises to allow the races to be held in their city thoroughfares, investors to put up racing teams and sponsors to inject millions of dollars to allow their names to a sport that would eventually help develop the electric car industry. According to Mr. Agag, “This will combine the racing world with the environmental world. This is a sport that will have a direct effect on the quality of cities. You don’t want to have the opposite reaction where you are a hated event.” The remarks were made during his visit to New York to meet with city officials and noting that the race would not have air or noise pollution many events would have produced.

The racing calendar is being filled up, with Rio de Janeiro committing August of 2014 as one of the races in the Formula E races. Monte Carlo has shown keen interest but the most coveted venue wanted by the organizers is to hold one in the streets of the United States, ideally to be done in New York, Los Angeles and Miami.

Sports is not something new for Agag, as he was the former owner of English Premier League football club Queens Park Rangers. Like many sport start-ups, the problem is quite perplexing, as persuading host cities, as well as sponsors and networks, to invest when there are very few options in the realm of electric car racing. Aside from venues for races and sponsors, he also has the burden of developing new technologies into the already established sport of motor racing. The logistics themselves for these races is nightmarish, requiring closure of streets, installation of concrete barriers, space for pit crews, fans and spectators, as well as all the other issues and concerns that comes with holding such a major event in a downtown area.

The future of these races is still up in the air.

The New Lexus on the Road


It has been five generations of ES sedans since its unveiling back in 1989, with over a million still being driven on the roads. Now, the newest Lexus ES, the ES 300h now has a hybrid powertrain and was recently unveiled at the New York Auto Show last April.

The first orders of the vehicle would be accepted starting August 2012.

The Lexus 300h has an EPA combined fuel economy rating of forty miles per gallon, with a seamless delivery of 200 horsepower from the four cylinder Atkinson engine. It is a dual overhead cam 16 valve with variable valve timing with intelligence or VVT-i. It further has an electronically controlled sequential fuel injection (SFI) for its front wheel drive engine with electronically controlled continuously variable transmission.

The frame is a unitized steel body with front MacPherson strut-type independent suspension and rear dual link MacPherson strut-type independent suspension. Furthermore, it has a four wheel power assisted disc brake system with ABS, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Brake Assist, Traction Control, and Vehicle Stability Control. The vehicle can accelerate between zero to sixty mph in 8.1 seconds with a top speed of 112 mph.

The price would be unveiled just before its release date and is viewed as the top reason for the acceptance or rejection of the model. According to Brian A. Smith, Vice President of Marketing for Lexus, “The premium levied on the buyers of the hybrid, versus the non-hybrid ES 350 would be the lowest in our line up.”

There are subtle differences between the ES 350 and its hybrid counterpart. These include a rear spoiler on the down low and exhaust pipes hidden differentiate the hybrid version. The 300h has a drag coefficient of 0.27 and is designed to have a thrusting prow and deeply embedded fog lights between two tiered “spindle grilles” that makes the Lexus different from other models.

For the interiors, there is squared and angular look reminiscent of 1980’s interiors, a disappointing look for the luxury brand. What is original though is the use of optional bamboo wood accents which works best with the environmental sustainability view of the hybrid. This vehicle has been certified in California as a super ultra low emissions vehicle.

For passenger space, the front and rear accommodations are comfortable, but hybrids lose three cubic feet of trunk space because of the 1.6 kilowatt hour nickel metal hydride battery pack.

The car has a dash mounted selector to change from throttle to steering response while in Sport mode. The selector also changes to hybrid power according to the tachometer response, with the Eco mode emphasizing fuel economy while the EV mode allows for a maximum distance of 1.5 miles, when running under 25 mph.

The 2013 ES model has a standard seven inch display screen with its known Display Zone, with an analog clock and other Lexus only accents and styling. The lower half of the dashboard is the Operations Zone, where the HVAC system and its Enform infotainment system, with the three modes and the push button EV mode.

Nissan Leaf Takes on New Challenges


Nissan is taking on new challenges. The car company has recently won an invitation to tender to become NV 200 New York’s official taxi vehicle. In addition, in this bid, the company is going to use the Nissan Leaf for this bid.

The New York Taxi and Limousine Commission has announced that the Japanese automaker said the Nissan Leaf EVs would be plying taxi routes for the pilot project for a year. For its part, Nissan would be giving out six EVs to any owner-drivers who are interested in the program. This may be a good way to advertise the vehicle, there is more to the program than this.

Nissan is gathering information on the performance and other factors on how the Nissan Leaf can manage in a very demanding industry in one of the biggest cities in the world. It is after all living up to its billing as “the world’s first affordable, zero-emission car.” The electric vehicle is an all electric hatchback able to seat five adults and has a range of 100 miles on a single charge.

Aside from the environmental benefits with the Nissan Leaf electric vehicles, the vehicles are quieter and more energy efficient. It is able to utilize 100% of its torque available from a standing start, allowing for better low speed performance. There is also no loss in energy, as there are no gears to shift when accelerating, making for a smoother ride. It is also quick to respond when the accelerator is pressed. This high efficiency in energy use and low speeds when in use is ideal for New York traffic, which is renowned for its snarls and other jams.

The steering is smooth and solid with traction control, vehicle dynamic control and electronic brake force distribution help keep the car safe on icy or wet surfaces. The car also has a low center of gravity because the heaviest part is the battery, often situated in the middle of the vehicle. This makes the set up and the safety usable in the icy and wet road conditions of metropolitan New York.

New York’s Finest Upgrades to Electric Vehicles


When New Yorkers think of cop cars, their concept would be the Ford Crown Victoria or the 1974 Dodge Monaco in the hit film “The Blues Brothers”. In other countries, the common police vehicle would be the Dodge Challenger and the Lamborghini Gallardo in Italy, but the costs of maintaining and fueling these police cars would not help in the overall budget for police administration.

Now, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has decided to take environmentalism as well as efficiency to another level when he announced recently the purchase of the city of fifty (50) 2011 Chevrolet Volts. These electric cars would perform police duties and would add on to an already burgeoning New York electric vehicle fleet numbering 430.

The Chevrolet Volt is a plug in hybrid which means it has both a regular internal combustion engine as well as an electric motor to power the car. The current rating of the Volt is 35 miles per full electrical charge so it can cover an entire shift without using the internal combustion engine. Should the situation arise where pursuit is needed, the Volts can give chase, able to travel 350 miles using the on board gasoline range extender.

The vehicles would be used for traffic enforcement purposes. Given the congestion in New York’s thoroughfares, the probability of having to use the range extender would be quite small. Other Volts would be assigned to the New York Fire Department as non-emergency vehicles among others. In the near future, the city would add another ten (10) Ford Transit Connect electric vehicles and ten (10) Navi-Star trucks to its fleet.

In his statement, Mayor Bloomberg said, “This is the latest and largest ever addition of electric vehicles to the City’s fleet, which is already the largest municipal clean-air vehicle fleet in the nation.” He further added, “We will continue to lead by example, but we also must provide New Yorkers with tools to make environmentally friendly choices in their own lives.”