Super Cali Gets Realistic - The Rest Are Still Atrocious...
Couldn't resist the mildly tongue in cheek title for this article - apologies to the other 49 Sates!
In reality, the reason why we see so much progress in California is multi- faceted. Inevitably, to some extent, necessity has been the mother of invention, and more recently, the Silicon Valley connection has joined up with it all and is helping us on our way....oh!, and a few incentives have proved useful too.
So as California hosted the 6th FIA Formula E race of the season - the culmination of much that the State continues to inspire with in renewable energy and 'new energy' vehicles - was there for all to see. The event was a glorious opportunity to celebrate the electric vehicle journey thus far and reflect on everything that is still yet to come. Be assured dear reader...there is much, much more to come!
Much of what has come along to date is an important template for the rest of us I feel - and Alejandro Agag's comments in LA last week nicely summed it all up...
California is really the place where the revolution started. Here you have companies like Telsa and others, but it’s not only a place related to the advancement of electric vehicles.
This State really leads the way with the technological revolution.
The electrons that course through the veins of the paddock energise not only the cars but also the aspiration and imagination of the top talent now assembled all around it. It was wonderful to witness at first hand what the series is achieving in many aspects - technical, commercial, and social.
Without doubt it is now the key forum within which the adoption of low carbon vehicle technologies - and much more - will be accelerated.
Inevitably, as a racing environment, it is dynamic and fast moving, and, just like the real world, it incorporates politics and power plays and strong feelings and frustrations. Whilst some of these aspects are not always welcome perhaps - they produce an alchemy that resonates much more for me than many of the boring seminars on this nascent industry that I have attended (and occasionally perhaps been guilty of contributing to as well!)
In taking the opportunity of meeting many of my long standing LinkedIn connections in person - and there now seems to be an army of EVangelists in the state - I felt truly energised by their efforts and ambitions. Paul Stith of Black & Veatch kindly invited me to a party whilst I was in town to meet up with some new ones too!
Having written a piece about Ian Wright, CEO of Wrightspeed recently, it was a pleasure to show him around the paddock and help make some new friends. He and his team are progressing a very important - and to my mind critical element of the EV proposition - their adoption within commercial fleets.
I also had the opportunity to meet up with the Rimac Team ahead of race day. Founder Mate Rimac and COO Monika Mikac were together with their 1st Customer Paul Runge from Florida - you may recall his experience was recounted in my piece Your Million Dollar EV is Ready Now! I was very flattered that Paul recognised me whilst I was being shown around the car - and he said he'd enjoyed the article...phew!
San Carlos based Electric Motor Werks - EMW (click here) - is headed up by Val Miftakhov - and both he and I have shared a few thoughts in recent years. I enjoyed spending time watching the race in the company of Val and his Ops Director, Dorian Vargas-Reighley.
Whilst each race-day is of course all about the build up to that magic moment at 4pm - and the ensuing thrills and spills before the glory of the checkered flag - another race is concurrently underway in and around all of that.
The pinnacle of automotive engineering that is F1 is now rapidly populating the racing environment of pure electrons - and the benefits are inevitably mutual. There is no doubt in my mind that they are complimentary to each other and not inefficiently competitive!
As for the public reaction? - well, the crowds were very impressive in number and good humour, and they had a full day of interest and activity to engage with. A core ambition of the series has been to connect with the younger generation and a new audience in general for racing - they seem to be winning on both counts!
As to winning - congratulations to Nelson Piquet Jr on his commanding race victory. There is no doubt that China Racing CEO Steven Lu was particularly pleased - as we could all witness on TV! - 祝賀
Attending the 6th race was both a privilege and a pleasure. I sang the best tune I could for my supper, and working with Mark Preston & Co at Amlin Aguri has hopefully suggested a few interesting avenues to pursue & commercialise.
I suspect one of the 6 winners of the 6 races thus far now has a voracious appetite for a repeat performance - I'm hoping that Mr Da Costa delivers that soon as he has the top talent in the garage to help him make it happen.
In the meantime, here are a few moments I'd like to share - and as ever, thanks so much for taking the time to read this!