With the inaugural season of the electric Formula E motoring championship set to kick off, some of the brains behind one of the world's fastest electric cars say the future of electrical motoring depends on how technology tackles the challenge of charging. Joel Flynn reports.
It's a long-awaited future; one where the electric car replaces the fossil fuelled vehicles that dominate roads worldwide. But while that day might still seem a world away, researchers in London believe they've nearly turned a corner. David Yates and Paul Mitcheson helped design the Drayson B12 69/EV racing car. That broke the land speed record for electric cars last year - hitting a speed of just over 205 miles per hour. But Yates says that for electric cars, speed isn't the main issue. SOUNDBITE: Imperial College London Control and Power Research Group Research Fellow, Dr David Yates, saying (English): "Electric vehicles are starting to solve the range problem, but the key limitation is then how long it will then take to re-charge it. And this is perhaps where the idea of dynamic charging can really solve that issue where people could charge in parking spots, maybe at traffic lights, as they're driving along the road." Organisers of this autumn's inaugural Formula E motor racing championships hope to turn petrol-heads onto electric car racing. But while many will watch for the excitement of the race, Yates says that won't be the only thing the racing delivers. SOUNDBITE: Imperial College London Control and Power Research Group Research Fellow, Dr David Yates, saying (English): "One of the things that the Formula-E championship will hopefully be able to do in all the cities, is leave a legacy of an infrastructure - perhaps of wireless charging for instance - where other vehicles could later use that technology." Dynamic charging isn't a new idea - electromagnetic induction was discovered by British physicist Michael Faraday in 1831. It might have taken nearly 200 years to harness that knowledge, but the drive towards electric car technology definitely seems to be gathering speed.