GM Continues to Advance Fuel Cell Design

While most of the world follows the Lithium-Ion battery based electric car design there are some others that still believe in the Hydrogen Fuel Cell. GM have recently improved their fuel cell design further by halving the size of the fuel cell and reducing the cost of production.

The size of GM’s fuel cell is now comparable with an average four cylinder engine whilst still maintaining the same 93 kW (125 BHP) power output as previous designs. The test-bed Chevy Equinox fuel cell vehicle has a maximum range of 150 miles and a top speed of 100mph, if they had used a smaller model then I expect these figures would have been better.

Production costs have been cut by halving the amount of platinum used in the fuel cell, with further reductions expected in the future. With production planned for 2012 the only concern is the costly drive train which will need refining in order to make the cost of the car viable.

Whilst there is still a carbon cost associated with producing hydrogen it is still by far the cleanest of current alternative fuel designs.  My main concern is that a hugely expensive infrastructure will be rolled out to accommodate the recharging of popularised Lithium-Ion cars.  Nobody is going to want to repeat the process for Hydrogen refilling stations.

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Top Gear’s Stig Revealed?

It would seem Top Gear have decided to reveal the Stig, and in the first episode of there new series.   Stop reading now if you prefer not to know, and definately don’t watch the video!

In the show on Sunday night the Top Gear team revealed the stig as none other than Michael Schumacher!  Now far be it from me to cry hoax, but it seems very convenient that Top Gear revealed Schumacher as the stig at the same time as they had a £1.3 million Ferrari FXX on the track, black just like the one gifted to Schumacher by Ferrari back in 2006.

I would suggest that Schumacher was simply Stig-for-the-day, he drives his own car round the track whilst also providing the Top Gear production with a sensational ‘joke’ aimed firlmy at the press and bloggers who are constanly trying to name the Stig.  And I think they’re right to do it, its a nice two fingers to all the know-it-all keyboard warriors out there desperate for a bit of fame at the expense of our enjoyment.

Knowing the identity of the Stig spoils all the fun, I don’t care if its Damon Hill, Lewis Hamilton or the Top Gear Dog!  Not knowing is what the Stig is all about, its also handy if their usual driver has the sniffles or is half way round the Nürburgring and we’re none the wiser.

Of course, if it has been Schumacher all along it won’t bother me, his (or her) identity is apparently an open secret within the motorsport community anyway.  The press will hopefully now move on to discovering the identities of Big Stig, Rig Stig and the Stig’s African cousin.

Formula One Teams Threaten Breakaway Championship

After discussions with the governing body of Formula One, Eight out of the current ten F1 teams have threatened to break away and form their own F1 championship.   The teams; BMW Sauber, Brawn GP, Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull Racing, Renault, Toro Rosso and Toyota have all submitted conditional entries to the 2010 Formula One Championship.  The two remaining teams; Force India and Williams have submitted unconditional entries and are locked into the agreement regardless of whether the other eight follow through with their threat or not.

It seems to me that the eight teams are bluffing, even though they may hold all the cards.  If the eight were to leave it would have wide ranging repercussions for the Formula One brand, it may be one of the most popular sports in the world but if the big teams were to leave it would be akin to watching 3rd division Irish football teams playing in the English Premiership.  Sponsorship would dry up, fans would leave in droves and F1 would soon be relegated to late nigh slots on Motors TV.

The eight breakaway teams strength lies in the group, for it to work they would all have to hold strong.  As a group in a new championship they would retain a lot of the prestige of F1, the familiar teams would also make it easier for fans to migrate.  The remaining Formula One championship would be limp, the FIA claim there are a host of smaller teams (most of whom have already had the entries rejected) that would be willing to step in.  However,  without the prospective draw of the bigger teams there would be less revenue from sponsorship, TV rights and ticket sales; these smaller outfits would struggle.

I may sound like I’m all for a new championship but I’m not… I’d rather watch Formula One in its existing format.  What I suspect is happening is an attempt by the eight teams to force a change in the FIA management, which may or may not work.  I suspect we’ll all find out shortly.

Electric Sports Cars: here and now?

Forget the hybrid drive vehicles that Toyota, Lexus and Honda are pushing.  As an intermediate stage they’re fine but with the speed at which the technology is advancing it may be no more than a token gesture.  Reducing emissions is important, and concentrating on the mass market will have the biggest impact but none of the models released so far can truly be considered mass market can they?
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