Slide Whistle Chorus: Formula E Makes a Pitstop in NYC

Thinking back to a decade ago when the idea of racing electric vehicles was just a fevered dream of hobbyists content with 40 mile ranges and unhurried acceleration, to now attend a sold-out international motorsports event featuring first rank drivers piloting 250kW racers around city streets is a revelation.  Last weekend, the FIA Formula E circus came to NYC and courtesy of Wallbox, I was fortunate enough to catch Saturday’s round.    Besides the actual races, the E-Village hosted performers, musicians, and dancers along with stands
showcasing the factory EVs from Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW.  I was more interested in shooting pics of the design details from the spec Formula E cars sharing the stand but an interesting DHL delivery quadcycle caught my attention as well and will be the subject of a later post.

Wallbox is a Spanish maker of commercial and consumer EV chargers and wants to cross the pond and break into the North American market.  Of the Wallbox products on display, I was most interested in the DC Charger that claims to be “the only bidirectional DC charger designed for home use in the market today.”  It’s V2G and V2H capabilities would be especially useful in the “Powerwall for the track” concept I’ve been kicking about.  Rather than a stationary battery pack for home energy storage, what if it also served as the heart of an SCCA D-Sports (now called P2) racer?  Batteries on a wall, while useful, are not much fun on the weekend.  But when they’re used in a 500kg sports racer  powering out of downhill left hander onto a straight?  Significantly more interesting.  This would lower the cost of enjoying racing and a grid-light lifestyle by about the cost of one battery pack while delivering significantly more utility.  Normally, the economics of racing are gaged against the case of burning stacks of bills for heat in the winter, in which instance this concept has a significantly higher return.   

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The eMR2 Finds A New Home

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The Happy New Owner
(Not actual new owner. Persons shown are actors and any similarity or likeness to actual new owner is unintentional)

It took a (long) while, but the eMR2 found a new home with an owner excited to get it back up and running. As is the case with most conversions, the sale price came no where near to covering even the cost of parts but there was little purpose in holding on to the car in the hopes that its market value would somehow magically increase in proportion to the thickness of dust on the frunk.  A Ferrari Daytona it is not.  It certainly was a great project and the money has long been forgotten, I’m just glad I didn’t have to part it out.  Look for it at autocrosses in Ohio this summer!

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A New Concept for Urban Mobility, Part 1

As public transit is undergoing a revival in the US and around the world, is the transit experience really in sync with the times? 50 years ago the last steetcar in Baltimore was taken off the rails. In its heyday, a streetcar rider could typically expect to wait 5 minutes and sometimes as few as three. A driver or conductor would greet them as they climbed the three or so steps to get aboard and deposit their fare token, which would take them as far as they wanted to go as the streetcar followed its predetermined route. 50 years later, public transport works much the same way. There are few transportation systems that schedule less than 5 minutes between vehicles in favor of fewer, larger capacity vehicles. They still follow a pre-planned route that can’t adapt to changing conditions any faster than a lengthy public review process allows. Just swapping the fare token with a smartcard accounts for nearly all the difference of the urban transport rider experience of 50 years ago and today and yet we have at our disposal a level of technology that was only dreamt of in 1963. What would Transportation as a Service (TaaS) look like in 2015? This series of posts will look at how an urban transportation system can judiciously apply technology to increase its usefulness to customers and achieve consistent profitability.

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