A new event was staged in the exquisite regency town of Cheltenham on September 8-9. It pulled in a remarkable 10,000 visitors to attend debates, lectures and mainly to see the exhibition and rides of no less than 40 electric vehicles, mainly experimental, on-road and racing cars.
Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills in the British Government addressed the meeting and stayed for a full day. An economist who previously worked in Shell, he correctly forecasted the global financial meltdown but no one listened to him and today he is one of the more powerful and respected UK politicians, one of the tiny number with experience of working in industry.
There were as many exciting, innovative vehicles as in EVS26, the largest US EV show this year, though fewer of the run-of-the-mill existing offerings from major car companies compared to the bigger events in Germany, China and the USA. For example, the Riversimple fuel cell micro-car running around had no battery and it is a co- operative design and investment operation over the web, a sign of things to come. It relies on Maxwell Technologies ultracapacitors (supercapacitors) because that gives better acceleration, life and reliability.
The retro Morgan cars famous around the world were there with one in all electric form and the 100 + mph Dragon pure electric sportster could be bought in conversion kit form for only £3500. For £12,000 they do the conversion for you. The gorgeous Lightning car could be seen in the test bed and fully fitted versions. There was Lord Drayson's Formula One racer that he intends to come in a version that picks up power continuously throughout a racing circuit. Indeed, contactless power - very much a thing of the moment - was represented by primary sponsors Qualcomm Halo, leaders in both static and dynamic forms and demonstrated here on a Delta Motorsports racer.
There were debates between schools on green issues at the event and the exhibits, which stretched from the municipal offices through the street to the Town Hall, with many innovative EVs from schools and a big contribution from Oxford University and oxford Brookes University not that far away. Cheltenham is only 50 minutes from Birmingham and Coventry where much of the UK's car industry and automotive research lies including a huge £400 million investment by Tata Motors, India's largest automotive company which takes a long term view in stark contrast to the asset strippers in the City of London which did so much damage to the British car Industry. The UK is, in effect, starting again with a huge number of start-ups in designer cars, innovative range extenders, fuel cells (latest news being the 1000 person Ricardo automotive design and research company collaborating with fuel cell manufacturer Intelligent Energy both in the UK. Intelligent Energy recently formed a joint venture with Suzuki to commercialise fuel cell motor cycles and scooters).
To top it all, the organisers staged the world's first EV street race at the event. They clearly thought that everything was secondary to this but we are not so sure. True, the lectures mainly attracted between one and thirty people partly because of the brilliant sunshine and demos outside and doing parallel sessions when the number of professionals interested in them were limited because this was a first event. The £5 fee per lecture was paid by some members of the public not in the industry. More on the specific highlights later but for now let us report that this event will be repeated next year with its remarkably broad sponsorship including insurance companies and the town itself. About eight purchasable electric car models were promoted from Renault Twizy to Vauxhall Ampera and a lot of e-bikes. Well done.
For more read Hybrid And Pure Electric Cars 2012-2022 and Electrochemical Double Layer Capacitors: Supercapacitors 2013-2023.
Also attend Supercapacitors USA 2012.