In response to my recent posting about NASCAR switching to electric cars, a blogger calling himself Middle Man, replied that he was skeptical.
In his blog, he listed some well publcized downsides to electric cars. And while these are very valid concerns, and criticisms, I would argue that some of them do not apply to NASCAR.
The first criticism he lists is that electric cars take a while to charge. This is true for electric cars meant for public consumption. But, for Sprint cup cars, this wouldn’t apply. I suspect that if a switch happened, teams would replace old batteries with new ones on pit stops. So, there wouldn’t be any charging going on during the race.
His second concern is range. Lithim-ion batteries are said to have a range of 250-300 miles per charge, depending on a lot of factors. In Cup competition, the batteries would only need to have a range of about 50-60 laps, depending on the track. In essence, they don’t need a very long range because teams would have to make pit stops, just like they do now using fuel.
While electric cars are not known for their speed, Tesla Motors’ Roadstar can go from 0-60 mph in 4 seconds. It also bosts a electronically limited speed of 125 mph. I’m sure Cup team engineers could find a way to get comparable power out of an electric car as they do out of today’s pushrod, V8 car.
Middle man points out that the cars are slower than fuel-burning vehicles, making them a road hazard. He also notes their limited crash protection. By only having electric cars on the track, you get more-even speeds. And, NASCAR’s current roll cage and seats, should protect the driver. The only thing that would need to be addressed is the possiblity of explosions if the batteries rupture.
All in all, I think that we’re a long ways away from electric cars in NASCAR. There need to be several advancements in the technology — mostly advancements with the batteries.
There also need to be advancements with safety technology, including a nearly indestructible battery compartment that would prevent the batteries from rupturing and exploding.
Again, I’m not saying that electric cars are the future of NASCAR, but I do believe that someday decades from now, it could become a consideration.