This weekend sees the start of the new Formula E season of Electric Car racing with a number of new players including Audi. Full race report to follow.
For the first time, Audi will be competing in motorsport as a factory team with a fully electric race car this weekend (December 2/3). The two races in Hong Kong form the opening event of the new Formula E season in which Audi is the first German automobile manufacturer to be involved. For Team Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, Daniel Abt and Champion Lucas di Grassi will be at the wheel of the Audi e-tron FE04.
“The past few weeks were intensive and exciting for the whole squad,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass. Our agenda included the meticulous preparation of the four race cars, computer simulations of diverse strategies and situations, fine-tuning of all processes and perfect preparation of the entire equipment, to name just a few items on the completed checklist. “Now, everyone is happy to finally be traveling to the race track and competing for points and trophies again.”
For the first time, a Formula E season will start with two races on one weekend, a so-called double-header. On Saturday and Sunday, the fans will experience two near-identical event days with practice, qualifying and races. Including the additional points for pole position and the fastest race lap, a total of 58 points will be awarded. “We aim to be perfectly positioned from minute one and manage a good start of the new season,” says Lucas di Grassi. The champion is looking forward to Hong Kong: “The city is great and the fans enthusiastic – the whole event is a fantastic spectacle.”
The 1.860-kilometer race track is routed directly along the waterfront and past the famous Ferris wheel. The temporary circuit uses streets that are normally public and has a very long straight that offers a good overtaking opportunity. It is followed by a technically challenging section with many tight turns. The track surface poses an additional challenge, as it changes from tarmac to concrete. On Saturday, 43 and on Sunday, 45 laps will be driven.
Driver Daniel Abt can hardly wait for the start: “We’ve been working hard in recent weeks – during tests on the track, in the simulator and in our preparations with the engineers. Obviously, we’ll only know in Hong Kong where we stand compared with the competition. But we’ve done our homework.” While his teammate as the reigning champion will be entering the race in car number one, Abt will keep his proven number 66. Celebrating his 25th birthday on Sunday will be additional motivation for him to achieve a good result.
In Formula E’s Hong Kong debut last year, the German team experienced a chaotic race. Both Daniel Abt’s and Lucas di Grassi’s race cars were damaged as early as on lap one. While Abt had to park his car, di Grassi fought back from the end of the field to second place. His comeback drive was possible thanks to a bold strategy of his team and sophisticated energy management.
Track Facts and figures
Date: December 2/3, 2017
Track name: Hong Kong Central Harbourfront Circuit
Track length: 1.86 kilometers
Top speed: approx. 200 km/h
Fastest/slowest turn: approx. 95/30 km/h
Previous winner: Sébastien Buemi (2016)
Best result of Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler: 2nd place, Lucas di Grassi (2016)
Lap record, qualifying: Nelson Piquet jr., 1m 03.099s (2016)
Lap record, race: Felix Rosenqvist, 1m 02.947s (2016)
Porsche will enter Formula E with a new motor sport strategy and its own factory team in late 2019.
Recent interview with Porsche R&D and Board members confirms entry into the all Electric Formula E racing circus.
The in-house magazine Christophorus shares an interview.
Mr. Steiner, why is Porsche entering Formula E?
Michael Steiner: Entering Formula E and the associated reorientation of Porsche motorsport activities is a logical outcome of our Strategy 2025. In addition to GT road sports cars, fully electric sports cars are an integral part of that. Both will be reflected in our motorsport activities in the future.
Mr. Enzinger, Porsche has also decided to withdraw the LMP team from the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at the end of the current racing season. Will Porsche continue to put in a concentrated effort through to the end?
Fritz Enzinger: Yes, we will. After our third consecutive Le Mans victory, we want to defend our two championship titles as well. We’re very well positioned to do so since the one–two finish on the Nürburgring. The last race for our LMP team will be in Sakhir, Bahrain, on November 18.
What factors played a role in the decision to pull out of LMP1?
Enzinger: For one thing, we can look back on four extremely successful years. On the other hand, the conditions in the WEC have changed quite considerably in some areas since 2014. At the time, there was an impressive field of competitors. But having just two manufacturers in the class is too few in the long run. And to successfully market the WEC, we had to rely primarily on our own campaigns in terms of marketing and PR, which called for significant additional investment. Only Le Mans has the status that would justify such investments.
In the future, Porsche Motorsports will focus its WEC efforts on deployments in the GTE classes. Why?
Steiner: With the Porsche 911 RSR, the brand’s icon will be vying for the championship title in the WEC. The direct connection to the product—that is, the road sports car—is very important to us. The diversity of manufacturers and the quality of the GT races around the world have persuaded us to strengthen our engagement in this class. The goal is to be number one. And we have to invest accordingly.
What will happen to the Porsche LMP team?
Steiner: The staffing requirements in Formula E are lower than in the LMP1 class. The extremely qualified personnel on the Porsche LMP team represent a valuable font of knowledge within the company, which we aim to retain in its entirety.
Enzinger: That also applies to the factory drivers involved. In addition to deployments in other racing series and the intensive preparations for Formula E, further uses and development tasks are currently being examined.
“Formula E addresses many of today’s important megatrends.”
In addition to Porsche, manufacturers Audi, BMW, and Mercedes have announced their participation this year; Jaguar and Renault were already in the field. Drivers include stalwarts such as Nick Heidfeld, Sébastien Buemi, Lucas di Grassi, and Nicolas Prost. Free practice, qualifying, and the roughly hour-long races are all held on the same day. The output of the cars in races is currently limited to 231 hp.
Why is the entry into Formula E only planned for the end of 2019?
Steiner: The launch has been set to coincide with the technical development in Formula E and our product strategy. Porsche intends to enter during the market launch of the series version of the Mission E concept study. Formula E is the ultimate competitive environment for us to advance the development of high-performance vehicles in terms of the environmental footprint, economy, and sustainability.
Formula E is a very young championship, regarded by some as a mere trend. How do you see things?
Enzinger: Formula E addresses many of today’s important megatrends. One aspect is the use of specially designed road courses in urban centers as racing venues. So the sport comes to the spectators rather than the other way around. Audi, BMW, and Mercedes have announced their participation, and others are already in the field. To call that a mere trend would be incorrect.
Steiner: Electromobility will play a major role in the future, particularly in urban areas. The digital transformation is the driving force behind the thinking in this field. Young people are changing our mindset. What do our customers expect from our cars and from mobility in general, now and in the future? All of that played into our decision to join Formula E.
What is GM Europe doing with the Bolt EV?
Around the time GM sold Opel and all its European operations to the PSA Group, then Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann floated the idea of the brand going all-electric.
Currently, Opel’s only EV is the Chevy Bolt EV, which is sold as the Ampera E in limited locations like Norway. Sales in the EC have been slow with only 13 units delivered in April 2017 against an order book of 4,000 units. GM limited the allocations in each market to extremely low volumes, which forced Opel to ask its Norwegian dealers to stop taking orders for the Bolt EV last month and to later increase the price by $5,500 for the electric vehicle in Europe.
GM Europe is now part of the PSA group so supplies of the GM Bolt is curtailed as GM tries to flog them to US and Canadian punters.
PSA announced that it is expanding its lineup to have 4 electric vehicles (BEVs and PHEVs) by 2020 and a complete electrification of its lineup by 2024.
But now Opel’s new CEO, Michael Lohscheller, announced the automaker’s new strategic plan and it includes leveraging PSA’s tech to develop their own EVs:
“Having full access to Groupe PSA technologies, Opel/Vauxhall will become a European CO2 leader. By 2024, all European passenger carlines will be electrified – offering a pure battery electric propulsion or plug-in hybrid version alongside efficient internal combustion engines. By 2020, Opel/Vauxhall will have four electrified carlines on the market, including the Grandland X PHEV and the next generation Corsa as a fully electric vehicle.”
Lohscheller elaborated on the new plan, which is called ‘PACE!’:
“PACE! will unleash our full potential. This plan is paramount for the company, to protect our employees against headwinds and turn Opel/Vauxhall into a sustainable, profitable, electrified, and global company. Our future will be secured and we will contribute with German excellence to the Groupe PSA development. The implementation has already started with all teams eager to achieve the objectives,”
Furthermore, the company, which is currently mainly selling its cars in Europe, announced that it will enter more than 20 new markets.
We had our doubts about the risk of Opel relying on GM to distribute the Ampera E in Europe ever since the sale to PSA, but it’s now clear that it’s not working.
To be fair, it’s not like PSA’s EV expertise is something to rave about right now either, but the company has been working on electric propulsion for a while now.
Last year, Peugeot and Citroën unveiled 2 new electric platforms to support 4 new EVs and 7 PHEVs starting in 2019.
We have the IONIQ from Hyundai and now Renault are giving us the Symbioz.
Renault Symbioz, an innovative concept to be unveiled at Frankfurt Motor Show, will be an opportunity for Renault to express its vision by the year 2030. This new concept addresses customer expectations for both mobility and lifestyle in the future, as well as the environmental and urban challenges that lie ahead. It is also a way for Renault to explore autonomous, electric, connected mobility in the future. The Renault Symbioz will be unveiled at 9:50am (CET) on Tuesday 12th September.
The name Renault Symbioz is derived from ‘sumbiosis’, the Ancient Greek word for ‘living together’. Renault believes that the car of the future – embodied by its latest concept – will function harmoniously and in permanent interaction with its environment, road network infrastructure and the digital lifestyles of its occupants. The letter ‘Z’ at the end refers to the all-electric Z.E. technology that powers the car.
Looks like being a busy Frankfurt show for EVs as Nissan will be showing the new LEAF.
Plus today we have more news from Renault on the new Kangoo van with 50% range boost giving a wildly optimistic NEDC range of 170 miles. Plus news from KIA that they are bringing PLUG In technology to the Optima and Niro lines.
News from Renault that their trusty little Kangoo van has just been crowned Best Green Van by Business Van Manager. Does not mention how many other vans were in the Green Van category. We can think of the Nissan EV van and that’s about it for all electric vans.
The Kangooo, Europe’s best-selling electric van and former International Van of the Year impressed judges thanks to its green credentials.
The Kangoo Van Z.E., first launched in 2011, is powered by a 44kW electric motor and 22kWh lithium-ion battery and four versions are available: Kangoo Van Z.E., Kangoo Van Maxi Z.E. (2 seats), Kangoo Van Z.E. Maxi Crew Van (5 seats) and Kangoo Maxi Crew Van CAB Z.E (5 seats with windows). It has a range of 106 miles (NEDC).
Thanks to its zero tailpipe emissions, a payload of 650kg and load capacity of up to 4.6m3, the Kangoo Van Z.E. is ideal for urban deliveries.
Ralph Morton, Editorial Director, Business Van, said: “Look around London and you’ll notice the delivery van landscape is changing – and it’s being changed by this van, winner of our green award, the Kangoo Z.E. As the clouds gather over urban diesel emissions, Renault has all the answers. The zero emission Kangoo Z.E is a clear – and clean – winner of our green award.”
Kangoo Van Z.E is Europe’s best-selling electric van, with a basic price of £13,298.48 (inc. PiVG and excl. battery hire and VAT). It carries over the same user-friendly functional features as the internal combustion-engined version and offers a silent, versatile driving experience with maximum torque available from start-up and seamless acceleration thanks to the absence of gear changes.
Paul Flanagan, Managing Director, Groupe Renault UK, said:
“The Kangoo Van Z.E. is the perfect vehicle for many tradesmen, as proven by this award by Business Van. It is more than capable not just in cities, but also now for further travelling. With a variety of versions and trim levels, the Kangoo Van Z.E. caters for all needs and costs a matter of pence to charge so it’s frugal, too.”
In January, the Kangoo Van Z.E. was unveiled with an uprated range of 168 miles NEDC – boosting its current range by over 60 per cent.
The Renault-Nissan Alliance leads all other car manufactures in global sales of electric cars
The Nissan Leaf remains the best-selling electric car in history, while the Renault Zoe is the best-selling EV in Europe.
Not many people know that Nissan and Renault are joined at the hip with a global alliance and interwoven stock ownership. The alliance also recently acquired a significant stake in Mitsubishi, the producer of the best selling Plug In vehicle in Europe. So it is no great surprise that Renault and Nissan will build the next Zoe and Leaf electric cars on a new common platform.
The cars will have different exterior styling but will share underpinnings and electric motors, said Arnaud Deboeuf, senior vice president of Renault-Nissan BV, the alliance’s strategic management unit.
Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault and Nissan, has been pushing the alliance partners to intensify cooperation to achieve economies of scale.
Deboeuf said the new generations of the Leaf and the Zoe will compete in the same segment but declined to say if the Zoe will grow in size to become a compact model or if the Leaf will be shrunk to become a subcompact.
He also declined to give a timescale for the launch of the new Leaf and Zoe, but said it will happen after a Leaf facelift planned in 2018.
French media reports said the Zoe will be the first Renault-Nissan alliance model to use the new EV architecture, but not before 2020.
Renault and Nissan might continue to use different battery cells but no decision has been taken, Deboeuf told reporters at a media event in Paris. The Leaf uses in-house, comparatively low-density LMO lithium chemistry. Renault buys cells from LG Chem. Nissan has not decided whether to continue to produce its own cells or buy them.
Renault has just introduced an upgraded Zoe with a range on a single charge of 400 km (250 miles) under the European NEDC testing procedure, up from 240 km. The Zoe has new lithium-ion pouch cells from LG that have nearly doubled the Zoe’s energy rating to 41 kilowatt hours from 22 kWh. The Leaf has a 30 kWh power rating and a range of up to 250 km.
Nissan began sales of the Leaf, the world’s first mass-market EV, in the U.S. and Japan in 2010 and in Europe in 2011. Renault launched the Zoe in 2012.
Deboeuf rebuffed criticism that Renault and Nissan still share too little in terms of platforms and powertrains despite 18 years of partnership.
He said that the decision to develop a new model is taken about 10 years before its market launch so product cycles between the two automakers need a long time to be completely aligned.
The alliance now shares platforms and powertrains across key product lines, Deboeuf said. These include: Compact crossovers with the Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar; midsize crossovers with the Nissan X-Trail and Renault Koleos; Subcompact crossovers with the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur; Subcompact cars with the new Nissan Micra and Renault Clio.
Deboeuf said Renault and Nissan will not share automatic transmissions but this differentiation is because of customer preferences rather than technical considerations.
We look forward to testing the new Zoe.
The Renault-Nissan Alliance will provide a fleet of 50 all-electric vehicles as the official passenger-car provider for the United Nation’s COP22 Climate Conference in Marrakech, Morocco. The fully electric fleet will shuttle delegates.
More than 25,000 participants from 195 countries are expected to attend the annual climate summit during Nov. 7-18. It marks the second time the UN will use a zero-emission shuttle fleet in support of public transport at one of its major conferences.
The COP22 fleet will feature the Renault ZOE, the Nissan LEAF compact car and the seven-seat Nissan e-NV200 van. The vehicles will be available to shuttle delegates 24 hours, seven days a week to key venues at the conference, as a complement to public transportation.
The Alliance will also provide a network of more than 20 accelerated and standard charging stations at strategic locations. The accelerated charging stations will be able to charge the EVs from 0 to 80 percent in about one hour.
The Renault-Nissan Alliance is the global leader in zero-emission vehicles. With six models, it has already sold more than 360,000 electric vehicles worldwide. Nissan LEAF, launched in 2010, remains the industry’s best-selling EV. Renault ZOE is the best-performing EV in Europe. The Alliance has sold about half of the electric vehicles on the road globally today including the Renault Twizy two-seat, urban commuter vehicle, and the Nissan e-NV200 van, which has been on sale in Europe and Japan since 2014.
In addition, the Renault-Nissan’s Tangier, Morocco, plant is designed to move towards “zero CO2” emissions through the use of renewable resources, for thermal energy produced on site, as well as its purchased electricity. The plant began operations in 2012, and its approach remains unique in the automobile industry.
In Morocco, Renault Group is the only major automaker to market a fully electric range of vehicles. Thanks to COP22 and the desire of the Kingdom to develop low-carbon energy, several companies have decided to bet on the 100 percent electric car by buying fleets.
“The Renault-Nissan Alliance is proud to contribute to COP22 by providing a fleet of 50 100 percent electric vehicles,” said Marc Nassif, managing director of Renault Morocco Group and Alliance COP22 leader. “This technology, coupled with an increasingly decarbonized electric mix, is the solution for individual mobility to address the issue of global warming and enhance air quality in our cities.”
Isao Sekiguchi, managing director of the North Africa Region and Egypt for Nissan Group, agreed.
”Climate change is one of the most pressing issues facing the world today,” Sekiguchi said “The Renault-Nissan Alliance was not only quick to recognize the import contribution the automotive industry could make to the collective effort to tackle emissions, but was also quick to act.”
The Alliance was also an official partner of COP21. The fleet of 200 electric vehicles from the Alliance represented the world’s largest EV fleet ever provided for an international conference. This fleet shuttled more than 8,000 delegates, media and negotiators during the two-week United Nations annual climate change conference in Paris last year. In doing so, it traveled at least 175,000 kilometers without emitting any CO2 tailpipe emissions and without using any petroleum, which saved nearly 182 barrels of oil and avoided 18 tons of CO2 being emitted.
The Alliance will also participate in Solutions COP22, an international exhibition on climate-change solutions, to be held in the Green Zone in Marrakech. The exhibition, which will take place Nov. 7- 18, will feature CO2 solutions from cities, businesses and other organizations around the world. In addition, the Alliance will have electric vehicles available for public test drives.
European sales of electric vehicles grew last year by 50% to nearly 100,000 units. One of the key benefactress of this sales growth was Renault, whose Zoe was the best selling electric car in Europe during 2015.
As well as the Zoe, Renault offers the Kangoo ZE small delivery van, and the crazy but interesting Twizy tandem two-seater low-speed electric vehicle.
With this lineup of electric cars already know secured nearly one-quarter of all electric car sales in Europe: Its 23,086 sales of Zoe and Kangoo ZE electric vehicles represented 23.6 percent of sales.
The bulk of those sales were the Zoe, at 18,453 registrations or 19.2 percent of the market. Most of the remainder were the light-commercial Kangoo ZE electric van, at 4,325 sold. That makes each car the leader in its segment.
The Zoe racked up more sales than the larger Nissan Leaf, which is assembled in the U.K., and the Kangoo ZE dominated the all-electric light commercial vehicle segment, at 42.6 percent of sales.
Unsurprisingly he largest market for the Renault Zoe is its home country of France–10,670 sales, or 48 percent of battery-electric sales–due to a national “Superbonus” incentive introduced last year to encourage sales of zero-emission vehicles.
More than half the Zoes sold during 2015, Renault says, benefited from that incentive.
From their launch in 2011 through December 2015, Renault says, it has sold 62,228 electric cars plus another 16,331 Twizy low-speed vehicles.
Renault and sister company Nissan announced in June 2015 that the two companies combined had sold more than a quarter of a million battery-electric vehicles. That followed a November 2014 combined total of 200,000.
But while the Zoe does well in France and parts of Europe, its global sales are about one-quarter the number of the Nissan Leaf’s sold throughout the world with strong showings in Japan and United States
Nisan expect the 200,000th Leaf to be sold sometime this month.