back to article Nissan to enter 300 kmh electric car in Le Mans endurance race

With preparations now almost complete for the start of Saturday's 90th anniversary 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race, Nissan has surprised the petro-heads by showing off a fully electric car that it will be entering into the competition next year. Nissan's ZEOD RC electric car Nissan goes to the home of motor sport to take on …

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Looks like an Electric Delta Wing

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B-D

MIchael Duke beat me to the punch on this one, a Delta wing running on Uniross Hybrio batteries.

Best of luck to them.

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Fine print

Cheeky title. While technically accurate if gives the impression the car will be in the up coming Le Mans, when in fact it's a whole year away (assuming nothing changes in that time). Bit pointless writing this now.

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Yeah, sure, good luck with that battery thing.....

Unless they're towing a semi-trailer sized battery pack or plan on swapping the pack out every 50 miles, they don't have a chance.

The Tesla barely got 25 miles when Clarkson pushed it hard. Even after having "invested over $5bn in battery technology" in the Leaf it only gets 75 miles of normal driving.

At about 3,300 miles total distance, that is 44-132 pit stops, one every 11-32 minutes or 3--9 laps!

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Holmes

Re: Yeah, sure, good luck with that battery thing.....

"The Tesla barely got 25 miles when Clarkson pushed it hard. 2

And Clarkson is not known for being a presenter of a highly scripted show - a pantomime where the cock-ups and mishaps are never telegraphed or ever written as a 'build up/let down'.

Right, now I understand.

(Top Gear is a comic show, never expect anything really informative - they have one hell of a lot of DVD's to sell)

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Facepalm

Re: Yeah, sure, good luck with that battery thing.....

"Although Tesla say it will do 200 miles, we worked out that on our track it would run out after just 55 miles and if it does run out, it is not a quick job to charge it up again." - Clarkson

So it was a bit further than yout hink, and that is 55 Miles hard driving, racing round a track...

Range will vary on driving style, if I was to race my Jag round a track, I expect I'd get around 15Mpg if I was lucky... I get ~55 Mpg on the motorways...

So a massive reduction in range for racing is not a shocker, they just presented it slightly biased against it.....

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FAIL

Re: Yeah, sure, good luck with that battery thing.....

I believe that you will find that when Mr Clarkson was driving the Tesla he claimed the battery went flat when, in reality, it was a lie.

In one fell swoop, Top Gear has black-balled itself from getting access to any more electric vehicles.

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Re: Yeah, sure, good luck with that battery thing.....@Mr Xavia

You get ~55mpg in a Jag? Which one, and how??

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Only as a hybrid not as an EV

These cars can only race any distance as a hybrid not as a true EV. Audi has been doing well with their hybrid so Nissan figures they might as well cash in on the PR. The sales figure totals for all EVs combined is so insignificant as to be a joke. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand you need a really long power cable to drive these cars more than in the city.

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Happy

Re: Only as a hybrid not as an EV

"These cars can only race any distance as a hybrid not as a true EV. Audi has been doing well with their hybrid so Nissan figures they might as well cash in on the PR. The sales figure totals for all EVs combined is so insignificant as to be a joke. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand you need a really long power cable to drive these cars more than in the city."

There's a fine line between cutting edge humour using exaggeration for comic effect and coming across as an idiot.

Your downvotes suggest you might like to refine your writing style?

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Re: Only as a hybrid not as an EV

BornToWin said:

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand you need a really long power cable to drive these cars more than in the city."

Wikipedia said:

"Le Mans (French pronunciation: ​[ləmɑ̃]) is a city in France, located on the Sarthe River...."

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Re: Only as a hybrid not as an EV

" It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand you need a really long power cable to drive these cars more than in the city."

The vast majority of cars ARE driven in city traffic almost all of their lives

Just because it doesn't suit you doesn't mean it doesn't suit a lot of other people.

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Re: Only as a hybrid not as an EV

Indeed. My grandmother accumulated something like 2000 miles a year prior to giving up the car, which comprised driving exclusively into town and back. No motorways, nothing more than 20 miles each way.

There are issues with leaving a battery standing for periods without undergoing significant charge or discharge, but in her circumstance, a mechanically simple electric car would have been far more economical (and perfectly adequate in terms of range) than a mechanically complex combustion engine which needs oil changes and annual servicing even though it's only done 2000 miles.

Of course to hit her demographic the prices need to come down to match that of an entry level Corsa, not £30-40k.

It does amuse me when people slate electric cars for their poor range. If you're a motorway warrior don't buy one. That doesn't make it a bad car. Arguing that it does is like arguing that a Smart car is shit just because you can't get 3 kids and a dog in the back. If you need to get 3 kids and a dog in the back, don't get a Smart. If you need to put logs in the back, buy a Landie not a Jag. Tis horses for courses. 65,000 is a lot more than I thought. Quite impressive really (Land Rover sell 15,000 Defenders a year, so for a niche vehicle Nissan aren't doing badly).

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The questions remain ...

1) What kinda energy goes into producing EVs?

1a) And the pollution involved?

2) Where does the electricity come from?

2a) And the pollution involved?

3) Battery-pack "tune-ups" (read "replacements")?

3a) And the pollution involved?

4) And ultimately, recycling?

4a) And the pollution involved?

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Re: The questions remain ...

Christ, you must be fun at parties.

Perhaps in the interest of balance you could give us a list of questions to ask about the full cost of the petrol burnt by the vehicles it's competing against? What about the suits worn by the drivers, is that material bad too? Carbon fibre, does that cause cancer? I bet the cars are all painted with lead paint, and lets not even start on the noise pollution.

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Headmaster

Re: The questions remain ...

I can't answer most of these questions, but I can answer question 2 / 2a.

The electricity comes from the grid, so in the UK that would mean mainly coal / gas fired power stations. Even though coal is really bad, at the scale power stations work it still pollutes less than your average car petrol / diesel engine (probably better than the best too).

I can guess at some of the others.

1/1a probably about the same as a 'normal' vehicle if you don't include the battery pack (you did split it out yourself)

4/4a see answer to 1

3 this is the real crunch and I don't even have enough data to guess.

Would I want an EV? Well, not a charge up from the mains job which is what you can get at the moment. If petrol stations sold hydrogen I would consider a fuel cell car as that gets around the main draw back of limited range in current EVs.

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Re: The questions remain ...

30% of the UK have no access to off street parking. Unless there's mass installation of public charging posts, there's always going to be a substantial minority of people for whom electric motoring isn't going to be a reality.

Ironically, many of them are people living in large towns and cities, for whom an EV would be ideal...

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Re: The questions remain ...

1) What kinda energy goes into producing EVs?

What do you mean by energy?

1a) And the pollution involved?

What do you mean by pollution?

2) Where does the electricity come from?

Good question

2a) And the pollution involved?

What do you mean by pollution?

3) Battery-pack "tune-ups" (read "replacements")?

Not really a question, so the answer is probably.

3a) And the pollution involved?

What do you mean by pollution?

4) And ultimately, recycling?

Not really a question, so the answer is probably.

4a) And the pollution involved?

What do you mean by pollution?

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Re: The questions remain ...

@jake

I can't believe all the downvotes and comments you've recieved from people who just fail to understand the issue. You raise a very good set of questions.

For those that don't understand the main question behind the questions; over the course of the life of an electric vehicle and the equivalent class of petrol vehicle, which requires more energy to produce, which requires more energy to maintain, to run, to dispose of, which is less environmentallly friendly to dispose of, and ultimately which is actually more environmentally friendly.

And to be honest, if I had to guess, by the time you've swapped and big Li-Ion battery packs five or six times (assuming the car lasts 175-200 thousand miles which is not unreasonable for a modern IC car) and dispose of them and created the electricity using coal or gas plants (as in the UK) and extracted the rare Earth magnets for the motor (I know they're not strictly speaking rare, but it is a dirty, pollutive process to extact them nonetheless) I wouldn't be so surprised of the electric car loses.

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@Benjamin 4 (was: Re: The questions remain ...)

I didn't even touch on the most important questions ...

Can any country on Earth's National Grid support EVs for even 10% of the population? Will any National Grid EVER be able to support 10% of the population driving EVs?

Magic bullets don't work, even if rich people get richer off the backs of idiots.

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Re: @Benjamin 4 (was: The questions remain ...)

**Can any country on Earth's National Grid support EVs for even 10% of the population? Will any National Grid EVER be able to support 10% of the population driving EVs?**

In the UK, the grid operators would love to charge EVs at night. Once everybody has gone to bed for the night, there is a massive excess of power generation especially if the wind is blowing. It doesn't make sense to shut down coal fired plants as it takes a bunch of coal to get them back up to temp in the morning and the thermal cycling wears the plants out faster. Same thing with nuke plants. You can get a great tariff for charging an electric car during off-peak.

Check out "Fully Charged" with Robert Llewelyn on iTunes. There is an episode with him talking to the operators of the national grid about just this.

Robert is a self confessed "wet-liberal", owns a Nissan Leaf and powers it a lot with a rack of solar panels on his roof. It's a bit spend up front, but his operating costs for the car are mighty slim. Look at www.llewblog.squarespace.com for writings and sums.

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@MachDiamond (was: Re: @Benjamin 4 (was: The questions remain ...))

You didn't answer my follow-up questions, vis-a-vis "can the grid handle it", and "will it ever be able to handle it".

As a side-note, I actually fired up the TV for the first time in about half a year, and have had Le Mans coverage running for about the last 5 hours. I have heard absolutely zero coverage of the electric Nissan. Is it actually still running?

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Reading Comprehension Fail

' I have heard absolutely zero coverage of the electric Nissan. Is it actually still running?'

No because it's not entering until next year, which you'd know if your over sized ego hadn't got in the way of reading the article properly.

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Happy

Re: The questions remain ...

You forgot to include extracting and refining the fuel, then transporting it to the venue

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Re: The questions remain ...

The question is also locale dependent. Le Mans for instance, being in France, will have a largely nuclear-powered mains grid, which creates only solid wastes rather than venting it into the atmosphere. That will affect the ecological footprint of the EVs used there.

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Re: The questions remain ...

also forgot the ecological impact of the airforce bases, fighter jets, carriers etc stationed in the middle east to help insure supply..

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@jake

Your short-sightedness is astounding.

Do you even read technology news?

New battery tech: http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/157525-new-sulfur-based-battery-is-safer-cheaper-more-powerful-than-lithium-ion

As for generating the electricity in the first place, new nuclear power will be built. The greens wont hold out for much longer when their precious coal and gas power plants (seriously, they think coal and gas is safer than nuclear). We also have ITER coming online in just under a decade, and NIF in the US. Both hold great potential for fusion power.

Stop thinking about EV's in today's terms. They are a) not here yet anyway (Li-Ion just doesnt have the power capacity) and b) when they finally get some traction, we'll have all this new tech to play with.

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Happy

Re: @MachDiamond (was: @Benjamin 4 (was: The questions remain ...))

re: Jake

I watched it from the rear cameras on two of the Corvettes (via speedtv.com) while I was working. The GFs kids were upset because I was consuming 7Mb/sec for four hours and their facebook/pinterest/etc were slow as molasses. I knew my rdp sessions would be slow, but I did get to see the 'vettes get lapped by the prototypes rather often.

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Thumb Up

Re: The questions remain ...

@jake - very valid points.

Most probably the energy / other resources / pollution produced to build an electric car will be approximately the same to that of producing a petrol/diesel car with 2 notable differences. Electric cars have a LOT less parts so probably there's quite some savings in supply chain / assembly, and lithium batteries are a lot more complex to recycle than a hunk of metal.

I don't know enough to be able to say whether these 2 effects cancel each other out. Current values of energy etc required to produce an e-car are a lot higher than for combustion engine cars, however that's not completely comparable because production runs are a lot smaller. I would hazard a guess that when electric cars are produced in the same volumes as combustion engine cars, it will be about the same.

Keep in mind that (most) people aren't going to throw away their current cars to buy an e-car, or buy an e-car on top of their current one. They would arrive at a point where they want a new car anyway and some will opt for an e-car. So over the course of 20, 30, 50 years it won't make too much difference.

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Re: @jake - can the grid handle it?

I don't see why not. Firstly as a previous commentor said, grid is operating below capacity at night, so adding charging onto the grid at night will just give a smoother load, it won't increase the peak.

Secondly as I mentioned in my other reply, people aren't just going to switch over to EVs en masse. the grid has 20, 30, 50 years to adapt and gradually increase capacity, it's not going to have a 5-10% or more increase overnight.

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IT Angle

Re: The questions remain ...

@Steve Crook

It's a good point and I don't disagree. It will probably take a rethink of ownership for these to be adopted in the UK. Renault are probably onto a good thing by retaining ownership of the battery. One of the French manufacturers engineered prototypes with batteries that could drop out of the bottom of the chassis. Ultimately this meant the owner wouldn't have to recharge at home but could swap out as required and their 'subscription' guarantees a battery in decent nick.

(what follows is highly speculative but not impossible)

We might also see cities offering car hire similar to the bike hire schemes popping up in cities around the world. The technology for self-driving cars keeps developing; once they arrive then your car could drive itself to a charging point after you get home.

But on balance, public charging points are probably more likely.

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Ze od

looking car.

It wasn't actually ze the model, the translator from Japanese to English was German.

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WTF?

"Z EOD", wasn't that the command to close down an MVS based IBM mainframe? (EOD = End Of Day)

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Boffin

Err, Tesla demonstrates battery change in 90 secs.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/06/21/tesla_battery_swap_tech/

Perhaps those pit stops may be a bit shorter than you think.

And getting you technical information from Top Gear is, shall we say, unwise?

But to me the really interesting point just slipped out.

"There have been hybrid electric cars competing in the race for the last four years and they now dominate the race"

From "WTF, it's a hybrid?" to being front runners in 4 years is pretty impressive. sure it's impossible to say how much of that tech will make it to normal road cars but its a hell of an achievement.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Err, Tesla demonstrates battery change in 90 secs.

Most of the 'hybrid' racing cards are using KERS. They aren't even remotely similar to the hybrid road cars like the Prius. Apples meet oranges.

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Happy

Re: Err, Tesla demonstrates battery change in 90 secs.

"Most of the 'hybrid' racing cards are using KERS. They aren't even remotely similar to the hybrid road cars like the Prius. Apples meet oranges."

In that case, depending on wheather they are allowed this season all F1 cars would be "hybrids."

I think you need a bit more storage than that to qualify at Le Mans as a hybrid.

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Knee-Jerking...

Everyone hold up just a minute... Nissan aren't some two bit outfit having a crack at running Le Mans for the fun of it! Through Nimso, they're a pretty serious motorsport manufacturer and designer and have access to lots of technical expertise. I'm sure they realise that Le Mans is an endurance race that can be won or lost on pit stops, and if you're running a car, it needs to go several hundred miles between pit stops.

Le Mans is a prestigious event and to place in the final standings is a massive marketing coup for any manufacturer. Hence why Audi et al pour millions of € into developing racers for the 24hr race. So Im pretty sure if you're spending tens of thousands, if not millions on batteries, you can make a car with enough juice in a package small and light enough to be competitive.

I'm quite excited to see what they bring. I'm guessing the latest and greatest Li-Po cells mounted on sleds that can be swapped out in a minute or two, or maybe even lithium non-rechargeables as there is no requirement to have a power source that can be refreshed over an extended period.

One thing I think we can agree on though, it won't sound as good as a multi-V infernal combustion engine.

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Devil

Re: Knee-Jerking...

Thanks, made me giggle: thinking of a racing car zooming past...sounding like a milk float.

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Re: Knee-Jerking...

Indeed, many of the other endurance races are a run-up/test bed for Le Mans, especially Spa-Francorchamps. Although Nurburgring is always a delight to watch and a good heads up on whom to watch for at Le Mans.

Also, Le Mans doesnt just allow anyone to participate, you really have to show that you can race, some of the other Endurance series are actual entrance tickets to Le Mans. So if you can get there then you know you belong to the best.

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Re: Knee-Jerking...

I wonder if they can get Ernie Walt as one of the drivers? He's possibly a bit young and inexperienced.

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Re: Knee-Jerking...

No they have ernie - the fastest milkman in the west

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Re: Knee-Jerking...

I'm not so sure on the sound point.

When I went to Le mans a few years ago, at the speeds they go at for most of the race the petrol cars just make a lound piercing noise, the diesels on the other hand made an amazing and very cool Star Wars pod racer esk wub wub wub wub noise sounding nothing at all like my mrs's Focus diesel .

I'd be very interested to see what kind of sound the high speed leccy cars would make when thrown into the mix and are either over taking or being overtaken by the other types. I think it will really add to the overall spectacle next year.

.

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Re: Knee-Jerking...

Good point all round. It's a pity they wont be recharging on the fly though, since that's the main objection to EVs from a practical point of view. Maybe something to aim for in future years (i.e. get the EV to the finish line first, then work out how to do the same with recharging later).

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It's motor racing

Asking about the environmental impact of building or running a race car is not exactly sensible. All motor racing is an environmental disaster - it achieves nothing except bring a bunch of drivers back where they started, and burn a lot of fuel along the way.

Comparing full life cycle environmental impact of a conventional fuel vehicle against that for a similar size EV is sensible, but not interesting in the context of this article.

If Nissan can produce a 100% EV that can be competitive at Le Mans then that will be an achievement and I think they're not overstating it - if they pull it off, it will change the way EVs are perceived.

100% EV is practical already for certain applications. Fast charge battery technology is coming (as much as for your power hungry mobile telephone as for your car). Once it is here, motorway recharging will become practical and range will then be as per conventional fuel car.

Cheers,

Robin

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Rol
Bronze badge

Re: It's motor racing

You don't refill your gas bottles , you simply swap your empty for a full one.

I see a future for petrol stations, where your international standard "power brick" is automatically removed from your vehicle and replaced with a fully charged one.

The cost to you would be based on the charge condition of the replacement less the charge condition of the one your dropping off, plus handling.

Not only will this extend your driving range to that enjoyed by normally fuelled cars, the recharging done by the petrol station will occur at off peak times, using more efficient chargers than your domestic ones.

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Re: It's motor racing

"You don't refill your gas bottles , you simply swap your empty for a full one.

I see a future for petrol stations, where your international standard "power brick" is automatically removed from your vehicle and replaced with a fully charged one."

If that's how it pans out, fine. I don't think it'll be practical to do this, though, because the mass of the battery packs or whatever they are will be huge; it works for diesel/petrol because they have enormous energy density so we can afford to transport the fuel to the fuel station. The cost of delivering the fuel to the fuel station is still substantial (approx 10% of the energy delivered is consumed to deliver it).

A Lithium Ion battery pack has approx 1MJ/kg. Petrol has more like 40MJ/kg. Also (as Boeing found out) you need to wrap these batteries in something flame proof and give them physical security in case of impact. That means you're lucky to get 0.75MJ/kg once packaged.

So it's just not practical to swap out battery packs for a large % of the national fleet, I think. If it were, they would have to be recharged on site, so you need quick cycle times whether the pack is charged in vehicle or in a shed at the fuel station (otherwise you arrive with an empty pack and no charged packs are available for you).

Somebody asked whether the national grid was big enough to deal with 10% of the national fleet being EV.

Assuming 10% is 3 million cars and they use an average of 5l fuel per day (that's 40 miles, say), that gives you:

3 million x 5 x 35 MJ = 525TJ/day.

Averaged over the whole day (assume some local storage on site) that's 6GW.

The UK national grid has a capacity of 80GW and there is always surplus capacity. So I'm pretty sure they could accommodate 6GW all day long and not fail.

At 100% EV, you're obviously looking at doubling the size of the grid - which is a tall order, but not impossible if the delivered electricity is paid for at a fair price.

Cheers,

Robin

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Rol
Bronze badge

Re: It's motor racing

Once a petrol station has taken delivery of lets say 500 batteries, that's it, after 12 months of customer use it still has 500 batteries, all quietly charging away.

Of course the petrol station would need some heavy redesign and not all stations would have the capacity, but taking a leaf out of the liquid stuffs "How to" book, placing much of the storage under ground would make this workable.

Drive into the orange parking bay, press the console button and an arm would extend from the floor to automatically locate, then remove your flat, taking it down to the charging room, then replace it with a charged one, locking it in place.

Finding a petrol station would most probably get very easy, as the wind turbines would be easily visible, unless of course they are using high pressure geothermal, fusion or work experience slaves on a treadmill.

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Boffin

Re: It's motor racing

"The UK national grid has a capacity of 80GW and there is always surplus capacity. So I'm pretty sure they could accommodate 6GW all day long and not fail."

Or charge at night, when the grid has surplus capacity. This will be an advantage of swapped battery packs over rapid charging. With swapped packs, recharging can be deferred to off-peak times without inconveniencing drivers. Rapid charging means each station (but not the overall grid) needs a peak short time capacity far exceeding their consumption averaged over a day.

Charging stations are a good load for utilizing variable power supplies. With a suitable 'smart grid' the chargers can easily throttle their inputs to the batteries in response to sources like wind generation in a matter of seconds.

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Re: It's motor racing

"[motor racing] achieves nothing except bring a bunch of drivers back where they started,"

I think you'll find that describes most travel - even the daily commute brings drivers (or, indeed, users of whatever form of transport) back where they started. There are approximately no people that keep travelling from place to place with no base to return to.

Given the Luddite attitude of the Swiss to cars in general, and motor-racing in particular, your name doesn't exactly make you worth listening to on this topic.

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