BMW’s Maximilian Günther and Jaguar’s Sam Bird captured the checkered flags at the thrilling New York City E-Prix racing doubleheader in Brooklyn over the weekend. But the real winners, race organizers hope, are electric vehicles themselves.
Why it matters: ABB FIA Formula E’s all-electric street racing series, held in some of the world’s most iconic cities, is meant to showcase EV technology in the very places electric cars are likely to have the biggest impact.
For auto manufacturers, it’s also a test bed for innovation in sustainable mobility.
“If we win and we are successful, we can show the world we are a step ahead on technology,” Pascal Zurlinden, director of factory racing for Porsche AG, tells Axios.
Driving the news: New York is the only U.S. stop on this year’s Formula E tour, now in its seventh season. As EV technology has advanced, the racing series has evolved too.
Batteries in the first generation of race cars lasted only 25 minutes, so teams had to swap cars midway through the race.
The current generation of cars has a lightweight 250-kilowatt battery and a top speed of 174 mph, eliminating the need for pit stops during the 45-minute race.
The entire 24-car field uses the same battery pack, which was designed and manufactured by Lucid Motors through its Atieva technology division.
Details: Each team designs the rest of the car’s powertrain — things like the electric motor, inverter and gearbox — but the design can’t change after the season begins.
The only permitted changes are software updates to optimize thermal management.
To win, racers need to strike the right balance between power and efficiency — the same riddle that engineers designing standard EVs are trying to solve.
Like race car drivers, EV owners can continually improve their vehicles through software updates too.
Context: Motorsports has long been a laboratory for future automotive technology.
Jaguar, for example, pioneered disc brakes at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1953. Today, they are widely available on all vehicles.
The British carmaker is already implementing lessons learned from Formula E racing, says James Barclay, team director of Jaguar Racing. A software update added 12 miles of extra range to the 2021 Jaguar iPace electric SUV, for instance.
The big picture: Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and a massive source worldwide.
Automakers are rushing to replace their gasoline-powered vehicles with electric models as governments tighten tailpipe emissions rules and companies face pressure to act on climate.
What’s next: Formula E is growing, adding three new cities next year — Vancouver, Canada, Cape Town, South Africa, and Seoul, South Korea — as it expands to a record 16 races across four continents.
The technology continues to evolve, too. Batteries in the next generation of race cars, coming in about 18 months for Season 9, will pack 350 kW of energy into a smaller, lighter package, meaning even better performance.
The bottom line: Formula E is an exciting sport with sustainability built into its mission.
Infrastructure cyberattacks are quickly becoming a significant problem in the US, and New York City is opening a facility that could help fend off those potentially dangerous hacks. The Wall Street Journalreports that NYC has launched a long-in-the-making Cyber Critical Services and Infrastructure (CCSI) operations center in Manhattan to defend against major cyberattacks.
The initiative’s members are a mix of public and private sector organizations that include Amazon, the Federal Reserve Bank, IBM, the New York Police Department and multiple healthcare providers. If a cyberattack hits, they’ll ideally cooperate closely to both overcome the attack and muster a city response if the digital offensive hobbles NYC’s infrastructure.
Politicians first floated the idea in 2017, but CCSI has been a strictly virtual initiative until now.
NYC is the first US city to have such a cyberdefense center, but it might not be the last. Cities like Atlanta and Baltimore have reeled from ransomware attacks in recent years, in numerous cases taking a long time (and a lot of money) to recover. A coordinated operations facility could help those cities bounce back quickly from a wide variety of hacks, or at least mitigate the damage.
A new type of housing initiative kicking off in New York City seeks to address two major problems facing the U.S. today: The lack of widespread, high-speed broadband access for low-income residents, and the need to more widely deploy clean energy technologies.
Why it matters: The project is a unique marriage between two of the Biden administration’s top infrastructure policy goals, except on a local level.
Driving the news: Using funding from the New York Green Bank and New York State Housing Finance Agency, the Workforce Housing Group — a New York-based affordable housing development organization — is set to launch a project involving about two-dozen buildings in New York City.
These buildings will capitalize on the cost savings of solar power to bring high speed broadband and WiFi access to residents who might not be able to afford it otherwise.
One goal of the project is to improve low-cost, high-speed internet access to residents of affordable housing units in East New York, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights, according to an announcement set to be made Tuesday.
The details: The project is being funded through a loan to cover the up-front costs of the installation, with loan payments to be offset by the expected energy savings on utility bills.
Additional savings from generating solar power would go towards providing free wifi and high-speed broadband connections for residents.
What we’re watching: Brandon Gibson, co-founder of Flume Internet, a New York-based company that will be providing the broadband access, told Axios the project could be replicated by other communities.
“We’re not aware of anyone else really doing that around the country,” Gibson said. “[We’re] really excited to set this as a precedent, and we’ll use it moving forward while working with other developers and other landlords in and around the country.”
“We expect this innovative structure to serve as a model for further partnerships with housing finance agencies and affordable housing developers as we continue advancing New York State’s equitable energy transition,” said Andrew Kessler, acting president of the New York Green Bank, in a statement.
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