2012 Goodwood Festival of Speed: electric car preview

The top electric eye candy at Goodwood this weekend

By Farah Alkhalisi on June 27, 2012 12:08 PM

The Goodwood Festival of Speed is, let’s face it, largely about petrol-chugging supercars and the heroes of motorsport. Yet there are a fair few electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in action over this weekend (29th June-1st July) as well: we take a look at the new cars and activities to check out this year.

Infiniti’s Emerg-E concept, first seen at the Geneva Motor Show this spring, is to be driven up the Goodwood hill by F1 ace Mark Webber. It’ll be the first time the car has been seen in action. The Emerg-E is a range-extended EV good for 0-62mph in four seconds, so you won’t see it in action for long. It features a Lotus-developed three-cylinder engine as a range-extender, supplying electricity to the pair of 200bhp motors, which drive the rear wheels.

Both Toyota and Audi will be bringing their hybrid 2012 Le Mans racers to the event, fresh from the 24-hour race, which took place over the weekend of 16th/17th June. Audi will be celebrating its historic first and second place finishes with the two R18 e-tron quattros – the first hybrid to win the race. Toyota, meanwhile, will be looking to show off its R18-rivalling TS030 hybrid, one of which battled for the lead before suffering mechanical problems, while the second car was cruelly punted off the track by a slow backmarker. Having licked its wounds, Toyota will surely get some deserved praise from the Goodwood punters for its valiant effort.

Staying with the racing theme but moving on to the pure-electric variety, the high-tech 850hp Drayson Racing B12/69EV, which has been described as “as fast as a Formula One car”, will be taking to the hill climb course for its first ever public running. The Drayson people say it is a key milestone in the 200mph car’s on-going development programme.

Nissan is once again set to test the theory that the LEAF can go just as fast in reverse as it can forwards. The company aimed to set a record for the fastest mile in reverse at Goodwood last year, but officials deemed it too dangerous given a lack of testing. Clearly their requirements have now been met as stunt driver Terry Grant is on backward-driving duties. Nissan points out that as the LEAF’s batteries are under-floor, it has a low centre of gravity, making it “very stable at speed with little body roll under cornering. And with fewer moving parts than a conventional car, there’s less likelihood of mechanical issues thwarting the attempt.” Indeed.

On a more conventional note, Nissan is also bringing the race-prepared LEAF NISMO RC: this will be driven by FIA GT1 champ Michael Krumm, who is aiming to set a hillclimb record for electric vehicles (forwards).

Renault will be showing the ZOE electric supermini for the first time in the UK, and the Twizy quadricycle will be taking part in the Moving Motor Show on Thursday, when interested customers can sign up to take a drive up the Goodwood hill.

Volvo will have a dedicated display for its diesel-electric V60 D6 AWD Plug-In Hybrid, and selected customers will have the opportunity to drive it for the first time during the Moving Motorshow. The V60 plug-In hybrid has an all-electric range of up to 32 miles, and in Power mode, it’s capable of 0-62mph in 6.2 seconds, thanks to the instant torque delivery from the 70bhp/200Nm electric motor.

It’s not all about the cars in action, either. Take a trip to the FoS-Tech pavilion, where concepts and technologies are showcased: this year, these will include a range of EVs, plug-in hybrids, range-extended vehicles and e-bicycles, as well as innovations such as the Michelin Active Wheel.

The Active Wheel houses a pair of electric motors: a 30kW/40bhp machine to drive and brake the wheel, the other acting as an active suspension system. This could, says Michelin, mean that a car would no longer need a gearbox, clutch, driveshaft, universal joint or anti-roll bar, as drive and suspension components are incorporated into the wheel itself, which nonetheless weighs only 42kg.

The Active Wheels could be fitted in pairs – giving a combined 60kW – or to both axles for four-wheel drive capability. The tech’s been around for a while, and is yet to feature in a mainstream production vehicle, but it’s a worthwhile glimpse of future developments in the EV world.

Other highlights in the FoS-Tech pavilion will be the Jaguar C-X75 gas turbine range extender concept car, the smart little Tata MegaPixel, as featured at the Geneva Motor Show and the electric Morgan Plus-E.

TheChargingPoint.com will be at Goodwood tomorrow (Thursday) so look out for our image gallery at the end of the day. To view our FoS-Tech gallery from Goodwood 2011, click here.