PA’s Tim Lawrence, head of global manufacturing, is interviewed by The Observer, following the first Formula E championship – the world’s first fully electric racing series. Tim shares his views on electric vehicles and the potential that formula E technology could offer consumers.
The article explains that formula E was established with the aim of showing people that you can race with electric vehicles, and changing their perceptions of electric cars.
On Formula E, Tim says “the marketing and the hype around the Formula E circuit will help develop momentum in the electric vehicle market and build on the recent high-profile launches of electric cars produced by the likes of BMW and Tesla.”
However, Tim goes on to suggest that whether the industry succeeds will depend on how it tackles ‘battery range anxiety’. Many electric car batteries can now be fully charged in less than an hour, but they still cannot power a vehicle for a reasonably long distance. “Battery range is the biggest challenge,” says Tim. “Currently it’s something like 100 to 130km. You really need to get over the 200 mark.”
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Tim explains that electric cars account for between 1-2% of the market which is not where manufacturers thought they would be by now. Tim feels that adoption has been very slow and shares the example of the Nissan Leaf which has sold only around 10,000 cars across Europe.
Tim believes that how governments embrace the new technology will be equally, if not more, important than whether motor sport helps to popularise it. “Some countries, such as Norway, offer significant tax incentives. As a result, their electric car adoption rates have been much higher,” says Tim.
The article goes on to explain that a few struggling carmakers are likely to welcome such initiatives when they have petrol and diesel powered vehicles to sell. Tim says: “At the moment a lot of economies are recovering from a long recession. Carmakers are very much in the mindset of selling a product rather than pushing technology.”