The UK Motorsport industry has added its voice to the call for a more sophisticated approach to environmentally friendly transport. Research commissioned by Motorsport Development UK (MDUK), and conducted by Experian, has revealed that the industry – well known as an innovator of leading technologies for the whole transport sector – is not simply focusing on alternative fuels (such as biofuels), but is approaching fuel efficiency and emission reduction in an holistic way, especially in light of the continued year-on-year weight increase of new cars.
The results of this latest study, Motorsport 100, October 2007, show that the UK motorsport industry is a major innovator of environmentally friendly technology, exploring all facets of fuel and performance efficiency (aerodynamics, transmission systems, lower emission fuels, super-lightweight materials, etc). This contrasts with popular debate on the issue, which largely focuses on biofuel take-up.
The motorsport industry is shown to be developing key technologies that that will be of use not only on the race track but will also bring increased efficiency and performance to other industries, both now and in the future – in particular the automotive, aerospace and transport industries. As a result of these findings, the motorsport sector has added its voice to those of other more informed commentators, urging lobbyists, consumers, businesses and governments alike to adopt a more sophisticated approach to the reduction of carbon emissions, which recognises that weight, mechanical efficiency, aerodynamics and other factors contribute significantly to overall fuel consumption.
Bob Gilbert, Chairman of MDUK, comments, “It is clear that motorsport is not only leading the search for alternative, sustainable, low emission transport fuels, but is also at the forefront and looking to introduce measures that actually reduce consumption, rather than simply channelling it into another source. All of our social and economic systems are interdependent, and we are now seeing that the EU may be considering withdrawing biofuel subsidies because production has doubled and is rumoured to be forcing up agricultural commodity prices and therefore the cost of food staples for the ordinary citizen.”
“The British motorsport industry is, by contrast, developing many and varied technological solutions to increasing fuel efficiency, reducing vehicle weight, improving combustion and transmission efficiency, and recovering energy from braking. Major manufacturers are closely following innovations in British motorsport. For example, Honda, having seen the success of the Insight Formula 1000 petrol electric hybrid rally car developed by Oaktec, are working with the engineering company to develop a competition version of their current Civic hybrid car. Now it is the job of environmentalists, Government, lobbyists and interest groups to follow suit and speak with one voice about the need to adopt a suitably sophisticated approach to transport emission reduction.”
Jon Hilton, Managing Partner of engineering company Flybrid Systems, adds, "This issue of an all-round view of environmental improvement in the transport industries is very important. For example, the average weight of new cars increased by 18kg in 2006, continuing a long-term upward trend. Contributing factors are additional crash protection and the power-draining effect of aircon and power steering. All of these factors need attention in the R&D cycle to produce vehicles that the public want to buy and yet are also energy efficient. This can be done by taking advantage of transmission efficiency improvements, light weight materials, and other innovations such as kinetic energy recovery that work together to reduce net fuel consumption.