Infineon Raceway’s Accelerating Sustainable Performance Summit
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San Rafael Patch “Huffman Hopes to See Electric Vehicles In The Winner’s Circle
“ (by Derek Wilson) 28 August 2011
- Triple Pundit “Hunter Lovins on Green Vehicles: Sustainability is High Performance” (by Steve Puma) 2 September 2011
- GreenBiz “Hunter Lovins Revs Up Sustainability Summit at Infineon Raceway” (by Leslie Guevarra) 25 August 2011
San Rafael Patch
“Huffman Hopes to See Electric Vehicles In The Winner’s Circle”
(by Derek Wilson)
28 August 2011
“I’m here to tell you racing will go green; you will go green,” said Hunter Lovins, president and founder of Natural Capitalism Solutions. “Sustainability is higher performance. This is part of the message that’s been missing. … This is where tracks like Infineon come in. We need to prove this, we need to test it, we need to show that it’s true. We need tracks like Infineon to reach a crowd of people who would never come to a talk (on sustainability) anywhere else.”
“Hunter Lovins on Green Vehicles: Sustainability is High Performance”
(by Steve Puma)
2 September 2011
Sustainability Guru Heads Up an Exiting Day of Alt-Vehicle Fun, at Northern California Racetrack
Sustainability leader L. Hunter Lovins is well-known for her love of horses, and her ubiquitous 10-gallon hat. It just so happens that she also has love affair with a completely different kind of horsepower: the kind generated by noisy creatures with wheels.
Yes, it’s true: your favorite cowgirl-slash-environmental-activist-extraordinaire is a motor-head speed-freak! (She’s raced motorcycles, cars, and even snowmobiles.) But, according to Ms. Lovins, she is, in no way an oxymoron, or a hypocrite. Speaking at last Thursday’s Accelerating Sustainable Performance Summit, Lovins said, “Sustainability is about higher performance.” (a common theme of books like Braungart & McDonough’s Cradle to Cradle, and Lovins’ own Natural Capitalism.) She went on to note that higher performance is what motorsports is all about.
The summit was hosted by Infineon Raceway, ground zero for all things fast and sustainable, in Northern California. The idea is to bring together an eclectic mix of auto industry movers-and-shakers, green vehicle advocates, sustainability experts, academics, and media, all with a common purpose: to create a platform for disruptive innovation in clean transportation, and to leverage the massive popularity of motorsports, as a way to bring the sustainability message to the masses.
Accelerating Sustainable Performance
In its inaugural year, the Accelerating Sustainable Performance Summit wants to answer the following questions:
- How can motorsports technology and innovation help drive advances in sustainable transportation?
- What near-term developments can we anticipate, in electric vehicles, battery technologies, and alternative fuels?
- How can the green automotive movement broaden its appeal, to capture the performance car enthusiast?
Taking it to the track
Infineon president Steve Page explained that, in addition to the numerous sustainability initiatives that the company pursues, in it’s operations (most visible are the 3,000 4-legged lawn mowers, and its large solar installation), Infineon is taking sustainability right onto the racetrack. Page says, “”We promote sustainability with customers and offer our facilities for new technologies. We find ways to show that sustainability and performance are not mutually exclusive.”
Lovins, the day’s main attraction, says that motorsports will be the proving ground, for green transportation technology. “Racing has brought us…innovations: increased safety, better aerodynamics, composite materials, higher performance – it is an integration of what racing does. We need to combine what people want with what we can give them and we need racing to help us get there.”
“NASCAR, the number one spectator sport, is going green. Race cars now use 15 percent ethanol. Why? Because it boosts horsepower.”
Innovate or die
Lovins also noted that the shift towards sustainable transportation will happen, because there are so many different pressures converging, which will force companies to “innovate or die.” From the greenhouse gas/climate change imperative, to the collapse of the U.S. auto industry, to the increased regulation brought on by the financial mess, Lovins claims that the companies which embrace all of these factors, as an opportunities, will be the most innovative and successful.
Off to the Races
There were a number of exciting announcements and cool things to see, at the event. I’m going to list them here, briefly, but check back, for links to the in-depth articles:
- Amyris unveils new line of Earth-friendly industrial lubricants: This company, the named sponsor, for the summit, definitely had the most interesting products that I’ve seen, in a while. Amyris produces ultra-pure lubricating oils and fuels, made from sugar. Most interesting about these products, is that they are fermented from bio-engineered yeast.
- Motorcycle racer Chip Yates showcased his all-electric racing bike, which he took to the Bonneville Salt Flats, in hopes of setting a world speed record: As of this writing, Chip has not yet set an official record (his first run, in the over 300kg class, was a record-quality 195 mph, he was not able to swap out his battery pack, within the allotted 45 minute impound period), he has been able to achieve one run of over 200 mph!
- Engineering students, from U.C. Davis, showed off their hybrid gas/electric open-wheeled racer, which they hope will win top marks, competing against other engineering schools.
- GM will be building a plug-in electric Cadillac
- I got my first ride in a Tesla Roadster Sport (finally!), and it was awesome!: Amazing acceleration, 80 mph in the corners, on the Infineon racetrack. Need I say more?
- HaloIPT announced Dynamic (in-motion) Charging, for electric vehicle motorsports: Remember racing slot cars, when you were a kid? Well, this is just like that. Except 48 times more.
In addition to meeting all kinds of fascinating and influential people, in the transportation industry, I had a real blast, at the event. The backdrop could not have been more perfect, and the highlight was when the engine noise of the practicing Pirelli World Challenge racers (mere yards away from the venue), cause Page to go off script, and move the second half of the event to Infineon’s soundproofed media center building!
I can’t think of a better way to get people excited about sustainability.
Steve Puma is Director of Business Development for SABA Motors, and a sustainability writer/consultant. His work focuses (mostly) on clean transportation, including Plug-In Electric Vehicles, something he is very passionate about.
Steve holds an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School and a BA in Computer Science from Rutgers University. You can learn more about Steve by reading his blog, or following his tweets.
“Hunter Lovins Revs Up Sustainability Summit at Infineon Raceway”
(by Leslie Guevarra)
25 August 2011
In her trademark 10-gallon hat, sustainability guruL. Hunter Lovins cocked her head and smiled quizzically at the audience gathered for her talk today at Infineon Raceway, the epicenter of motor sports in Northern California.
“What’s a Colorado cowgirl doing at a raceway? Well, it’s just a different type of horsepower,” said Lovins, who led a lengthy and impressive list of speakers at the conference called Accelerating Sustainable Performance. It was the first of what Infineon leaders hope will be ongoing public dialogues about how the racing industry can help drive sustainability and innovation.
“Sustainability is about higher performance,” Lovins said, adding that higher performance is the essence of racing.
It’s why motor sports have been a test bed for the automotive industry for decades, she noted, and why the feds have tapped its power, too. The EPA turned to the racing Industry a few years ago in a twin campaign to push innovation in fuel efficiency and popularize it. IndyCar and American LeMans were the first to take up the challenge, and now NASCAR, the country’s No. 1 spectator sport, is pursuing green initiatives (see my article about that here).
With such a draw, racing has the ability to push green concepts to an enormous audience. “We need the ability of a track like Infineon to get at the people who would never come to a talk I’d be giving any place else,” said Lovins.
For many in the mainstream, “the green notion has always been tied to the idea of sacrifice,” said Steve Page, Infineon Raceway’s president and general manager. “It’s the hair shirt factor. [Through racing] we can associate green with a different factor, one focused on performance.”
Infineon Raceway is a leader among motor sports venues that are now aggressively adopting practices and technology to save money and shrink their environmental footprint (see that story here).
Though highly visible, such moves are the exception in motor sports, and Infineon’s event seemed to me to also be a prod to the racing industry — in addition to being a showcase of innovation that has application in everyday life. Here are just a few of them: Safer, better performing and more efficient tires, cars and engineering systems were tested on tracks. Also, Lovins noted, the way paramedics move the injured was developed by race crews.
The all-day gathering drew researchers, engineers and EV experts, university profs, reps from local governments and sponsors from the many companies involved with racing. I was there, too, and will be writing more on the topic later.
In the meantime, here’s what some of the key speakers were saying:
Steve Page on eating your own cooking, but not getting drunk on your PR: “We have 300-mile-an-hour dragsters out here, these things do not run on radishes,” he said over the roar of IndyCar drivers doing practice laps for an upcoming race. “Racing will go green, but it’s not going to happen overnight.”
Lovins on criticism that NASCAR is greenwashing: “Oh, so what,” she said, adding her oft-quoted quip: “Hypocrisy is the first step to real change.”
John Melo, CEO of advanced biofuels firm Amyris: “People want green and will pay for a product if it delivers equal or greater performance and is the same price as the competitive product.”
Paul Erickson, associate professor, mechanical & aerospace engineering, at the University of California, Davis, on why going green at gunpoint may work in dictatorships but not in the U.S.: “It scares the hell out of me when you say, ‘You will go green.’ I want to reach for my .357-magnum,” he joked. “We need to make sure we’re doing this for the right reasons, that they’re scientific and we have to let people choose.”
Consultant Andy Dolich, former COO of the San Francisco 49ers, on green cars: “When will we see a green car star in a movie, like Steve McQueen’s Mustang [in ‘Bullitt’]? … If Henry Ford were alive today, what would he say about all this?”