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By Jody McCutcheon
The last Abu Dhabi F1 race may not have featured any hybrid supercars, but it did keep the flame of energy-efficient transportation burning (the horrible metaphor doesn’t change the truth of the matter), with some pre-race fun and some Fanzone experimentation.
Shortly before the race, Renault-based drivers Mark Webber (of Infiniti Red Bull Racing, and who also owned the pole position) and Charles Pic (of Caterham F1) raced each other through the streets of Dubai in Renault TWIZYs. The TWIZY, of course, is 100% electric. It’s a compact, four-wheeled two-seater that’s half-car and half-motorcycle–marketed as a quadricycle–with the passenger sitting behind the driver.
Ideal for urban driving, the TWIZY has a 13kW (17hp) engine and 6.1kWh lithium-ion batteries. A full charge requires three-and-a-half hours from a domestic outlet. The vehicle provides a 100km-range with a top speed of 80km/h. So who won the TWIZY race? The fans, of course.
In the days leading up to the race, a locally made racecar was displayed in the Yasalam F1 Fanzone in the Abu Dhabi corniche. Designed and built by Engineering Technology students from nearby HCT Ruwais Men’s College, the vehicle was built for the 2014 Shell Global Eco-Marathon competition, an international student contest in which entrants must built a car that uses one litre of fuel to travel the farthest distance. Power options include solar, battery or some form of hybrid concept. The idea of teaching today’s students to built ultra-fuel-efficient vehicles bodes well for tomorrow.
While for now we’ll have to make do with fast, flashy, fuel-inefficient sports cars, there is so much to look forward to, in regards to hybrid and fuel-efficient technology, in the future.