A plenary session at the recent FIA conference debated “The Future of Powertrain Technologies: Towards Sustainable Motorsport and Mobility”. The discussion involved various representatives of national sporting authorities and the FIA, and focused on the topic of clean powertrain technology in the context of motorsport and the motor industry at large.

Motorsport UK President David Richards opened the discussion, stressing the importance of not depriving existing competitors of their rights in the pursuit of sustainable motorsport. “We have to strike a balance,” he said. “We have 30,000 members, licensees, who have existing cars and want to participate, and we also have a demand from the general public who want us to move towards sustainability. We cannot deprive existing licensees of the right to vote, but we must show leadership. We should introduce it at the junior levels. For example, Cadet Karting is an easy level to introduce. We have governments that focus on electrics to the exclusion of everything else, and we need to make them understand that motorsport is a great platform to transform transportation very quickly. “

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During the session, Chris Aylett, CEO of the Motorsport Industry Association, emphasized that consumers are dictated by governments when it comes to going electric – a short-sighted approach. term of politicians who will not be in power in the decades needed. so that the future of powertrains is played out. “The challenge is: what is the future? Is it 10 years? This is nonsense in terms of technology. Is it 20 or 30? It’s fascinating to see politicians who have been in power for five years having to talk about 10-year deadlines because they want the votes. We are going to make mistakes if we put speed before common sense. Is the future entirely electric? Not a hope. Too many nations cannot adapt; can’t afford it. Electricity will not work everywhere.

He added: “The internal combustion engine has been a very efficient mode of mobility and has been for 100 years. There’s a lot of potential there if we weren’t in such a rush to go electric. Regarding sustainable fuels, I am sure that we will move forward in the future with an urban electric solution and a non-urban solution. This is a great opportunity for the FIA ​​to work with the motorsport supply chain to address these challenges. “

FIA Environment and Sustainable Development Committee Chairman Felipe Calderón pointed out that some predictions suggest that as battery development improves, electric vehicles (EVs) could be “equivalent or even cheaper than combustion engine vehicles. If this happens, there will be a huge shift in the market. This will happen because of a rational decision by consumers to change.

However, Robert Slocombe, Group CEO of the Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia (RAC WA) pointed out that the appropriate approach for Europe does not necessarily reflect the changes underway elsewhere, with much lower adoption of electric vehicles in some. regions. “The average passenger vehicle emission intensity in Australia is 45% higher than in Europe. In Australia, the average age of a vehicle is 11 years. It will take a long time for electric vehicles to arrive. Electric vehicles are very, very expensive, around 60% more expensive. Yes, the economy will bring about change, but it will take some time, ”he observed.

The chairman of the FIA ​​Manufacturers’ Committee, Professor Burkhard Göschel, added that in his opinion battery-electric vehicles in their current form are not fully sustainable and that EU decisions have not been made. were based on life cycle assessment and material requirements. Better power sources are needed, he said.

“We have a lot of electric motorsport series and we should strive to push battery technology. I know the costs could go up, but we have to push. If we switch to solid-state batteries and they meet the performance that has been discussed, they could outperform hydrogen fuel cells. He added: “The other area is that of sustainable e-fuels. We have an existing infrastructure for liquid fuels and we have a very weak infrastructure for electric vehicles. We cannot overlook this.

The discussion ended with a video Q&A with Pierre Fillon, president of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), who discussed the future of hydrogen fuel cell engines in endurance racing and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. . He concluded: “We believe that hydrogen is one of the best energies for future mobility. Hydrogen will play a key role at Le Mans in 10 years. We will have zero C02 emissions, with hydrogen in first class and e-fuels for the lower classes, and we will organize an exemplary event in terms of social responsibility. Le Mans must remain an extraordinary human adventure, a testing ground for mobility and a unique experience for fans.

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