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Posts Tagged ‘green racing’

Aston Martin Plans to Race Hydrogen Rapide S

Automakers see racing as a trial-by-fire opportunity.

by on Apr.16, 2013

Aston's track version of the Rapide S can switch from hydrogen to gasoline - or blend both.

Automakers often argue that there’s no better place to test out promising new technology than on the race track – which is apparently what Aston Martin has in mind for the hydrogen-powered Rapide S it will field during the 24 Hours of Nurburgring next month.

The ‘Ring is one of the world’s most challenging tracks to begin with, a place where it seems almost every serious performance-oriented vehicle is tested these days, from the new Cadillac CTS to the BMW X4.  But the day-long race will clearly amp things up to the next level for Aston’s prototype.

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One of Aston’s goals, according to CEO Ulrich Bez, is to complete the first “zero CO2 emission lap in mainstream racing.”

Hydrogen captured headlines in the 1990s, many envisioning it as the fuel of the future since it essentially produces no tailpipe emissions. Over the past decade, the gas has taken a technical back seat to battery power but there are signs of renewed interest as electric vehicles stall in the marketplace.


24 Hours of Le Mans Becomes Alternative Power Showcase

Audi Hybrid takes checkered flag, Delta Wing makes strong initial showing.

by on Jun.18, 2012

The unique Nissan Delta Wing made it through nearly seven hours before being driven off the track, ironically, by a Toyota hybrid.

It has been described as the most demanding and unforgiving road race in the world, one that only the hardiest men and machine can hope to survive, never mind win.  So, even a good showing during the 24 Hours of Le Mans is a significant achievement.

And this year’s ultimate endurance race suggests that alternative power and automotive design is ready to challenge the mainstream.  With Audi’s latest high-tech entry claiming victory and the striking Delta Wing making an impressive – if short-lived – debut, even more alternative entries appear to be on the horizon, including one from Japan’s Mazda.

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Already a dominant force with its diesel-powered racers, Audi took an even bolder step this year with the addition of the R18 etron Quattro – which took the checkered flag to become the first hybrid vehicle ever to win the 24-hour event.  Audi snatched a compelling 1-2-3 win during the 80th running of the annual Le Mans endurance race with two R18 etrons first across the finish line followed by a more conventionally diesel-powered R18 ultra.


First Look: Nissan Leaf NISMO RC

Nissan ponders the possibilities of battery car racing.

by on Apr.18, 2011

Nissan reveals a race-ready version of its Leaf battery car at the NY Auto Show.

Who says green cars have to be slow and boring?

True, you won’t set any land speed records with the likes of the Nissan Leaf, but the Japanese maker is nonetheless studying the motorsports possibilities of a specially tuned NISMO RC – as in Racing Competition – version of the little battery car.

Set to make its formal debut at this week’s New York Auto Show, the Nissan Leaf NISMO RC bears a clear resemblance to the more conventional battery-electric vehicle that started rolling into U.S. dealer showrooms last December.  But there are also some significant differences, including a carbon fiber monocoque that’s 20% lighter than the stock Leaf’s platform.

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To further curb weight – which comes in at just 2,068 pounds for the Leaf NISMO RC – Nissan engineers have switched to a 2-door design while trimming the car’s wheelbase by 3.9 inches, though it’s 0.8 inches longer overall and 6.7 inches wider.  The most distinct difference is height, the race version lowered nearly 14 inches compared to a standard Nissan Leaf.  Ground clearance has been cut to 2.4 inches from the stock 6.3.

They’ve tossed out such unneeded items as the radio and navigation system, and the side windows don’t roll down.  They’ve also relocated the battery closer to the middle of the Leaf NISMO RC to improve its center of gravity.


Is Formula One Going Green?

FIA considering new battery car series.

by on Apr.05, 2011

FIA Chief Jean Todt is charged up about racing electric cars, and may launch the first series by 2013.

Hitting 200-plus miles an hour down the straight you’re likely not thinking much about matters like mileage or CO2 emissions.  But up in the Formula One suites, well, that’s another matter entirely.  And after encouraging teams to develop hybrid systems for their F1 racers, the sport’s top brass may be ready to take things to the next level.

The Formula One governing body is planning to launch a series of electric car race series that could eventually generate a battery-powered rival to F1 itself.

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“We want, as soon as possible, to have new categories with new energy,” Jean Todt, president of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, or FIA, told the British newspaper, the Telegraph.

Don’t look to find Michael Schumacher behind the wheel, at least not initially, nor is it clear whether major players like Ferrari or Team Red Bull will be signing on up front.


Swiss Firm To Use Tesla Roadsters For Eco-Tourism

Formula One driver wants to offer some performance to green-minded travelers.

by on Oct.11, 2010

Former F1 driver Erik Comas with anew Tesla Roadster, one of 5 for his new Green Car Challenge.

There are plenty of eco-minded tour operators who’ll send you to a tree house in Costa Rica and maybe provide a bicycle for transportation.  But Formula One driver Erik Comas wants to appeal to those who still like a thrill behind the wheel while doing something that’s reasonably friendly to the environment.

He’s launching a new program, called the Green Car Challenge, which will let like-minded vacationers tackle some of the world’s most scenic – and challenging — roadways while driving cars that leave little more than tire prints behind.

Comas, who raced the F1 circuit from 1991 to 1994, has acquired five Tesla Roadsters for his new company.  They will be used for multi-day tours through the Swiss Alps and the French countryside.

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“I love nature, but I also love cars.  The good thing about the Tesla is you can still enjoy quick cars and yet be friendly with the environment,” Comas said during an interview with

While he continued racing after he retired from the Formula One circuit, Comas began a tourism business aimed at a combination of motor sport wannabes and corporate groups looking for a way to encourage team-building and bonding.