Would you be more inclined to buy an eco-friendly electric car if it could also leave Porsches and Ferraris in the dust? Now, thanks to a revolution in drive train technogies, you can have it both ways.
Ian Wright, the CEO of Wrightspeed, Inc., gave the keynote address at the recent EDA Tech Forum in Santa Clara: "From Pistons and Gears to Electronics and Software: The Coming Transportation Revolution." His key datapoint was parked between the show's display booths: the steet-legal X1 prototype racer, which can go from zero to 60 mph in 3.07 seconds--faster than any Porsche or Ferrari--while achieving the equivalent of 170 mpg. For many the highlight of the show was seeing if they won the raffle to go for a drive in this beast.
Electric vehicles have been around for more than a century. Heavy, ugly, slow, expensive, with short range and short life, they have been limited to golf carts and forklifts. From grocery getters to Formula One cars, pistons and gears have been the hot technology.
That's about to change. Advances in battery technology, control and power electronics make electric drive the hot technology now. From parcel delivery vans to ultra-high performance cars, electric drive offers higher performance at a 10 times efficiency improvement, and for the first time, shifts transportation away from a total dependence on oil.
Low-Power Design sat down with Ian Wright during the show to find out more about the technology and economics behind electric vehicles as well as some predictions about what to expect to see happen in the field over the next few years.
Low-Power Design: In your presentation on the Green Design panel at DAC you said, “There is a fundamental revolution going on in automotive drive systems.” What is the nature of that revolution?
Low-Power Design: Let’s talk about batteries. What is the difference between energy density and power density, and why does it matter?
Low-Power Design: You mentioned earlier today at the EDA Tech Forum that the technologies behind electric cars work but the economics don't. Would you explain that a bit, please?
Low-Power Design: At Wrightspeed you seem to be focused more on improving the Ford F150 than the Prius. Why is that?
Low-Power Design: What combination of technologies do you think holds the most promise for energy efficient vehicles over the next few years?
Low-Power Design: What are the major engineering challenges that are slowing the progress of electric vehicles?
Low-Power Design: Finally, ten years from now what type of vehicles will we be driving?