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Branson’s Virgin Team In First U.S Electric Car Race

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The first Formula E electric car race in the United States, took place today in Miami, Florida.

Richard Branson, of the Virgin Racing team announced before the race: “”Formula E will pioneer technology which will be used on normal road cars,”. The Virgin boss said at the pre-race conference “I hope 10 years from now the smell of exhausts from cars will be a thing of the past as much as the smell of cigarettes in restaurants.” Thousands attended the race in downtown Miami bay-front. The organizers hope the event will boost energy efficiency in mainstream car technology.

UK Reuters: Miami is the fifth of 10 cities around the world to host races for the inaugural year of the Formula E championship, launched in Beijing in September 2014.

So far, Formula E has offered the same, albeit quieter, thrills as the popular Formula One events, with low-slung, open-wheeled cars capable of speeds up to 136 miles per hour (219 kilometers per hour).

The cars give off a high-pitched whistling sound, a bit like a dentist’s drill.

The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), which organizes the races and also oversees Formula One, has attracted sponsors such as tire maker Michelin and courier service DHL, hoping the series will help the development of mainstream electric cars.

“The technology improves unbelievably once these large companies start investing in research,” said Pier Luigi Ferrari, the managing director of DHL motorsports.

All the cars have an identical chassis and drivetrain, as well as a massive lithium ion battery that makes up one third of the car’s weight. The limited battery life forces drivers to change cars mid-race into a second, fully charged car.

The series will become an open championship next year, allowing eight manufacturers to pursue their own designs. They will be limited at first to the drivetrain; the e-motor, the inverter, the gearbox and the cooling system.

All other elements will remain the same to prevent costly competition over aerodynamic design.

Branson said he was excited by the technology advances that he predicted would come out of Formula E, such as increased battery energy density, more efficient drive trains, and wireless “inductive” charging systems.

Edmondo Burr

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