The Venturi Formula E team has signed drivers Nick Heidfeld and Stéphane Sarrazin to compete in the series' first season. The pair will be behind their respective wheels when the FIA sanctioned all-electric race series kicks off in Beijing on September 3 of this year. 37-year-old German driver Nick Heidfield has raced for various teams in Formula 1 throughout his career, and has also participated in the ALMS and World Endurance Championship. 38-year old Stéphane Sarrazin from France has taken part in Formula 1, WEC, WRC, even V8 Supercars. The Frenchman says of his new stint at Formula E, "I am excited and motivated to sit in a totally new car with pioneering technology and to undertake a new discipline."
Also in Formula E news, the Amlin Aguri team has signed 33-year-old British driver Katherine Legge, making her the first female driver confirmed for the series. Legge has raced in various series, including Champ Car, DTM, IndyCar and United SportsCar Championship, the latter as part of the DeltaWing program. So far, 11 of the 20 drivers participating in the 2014-2015 Formula E season have been signed to 7 of the 10 total teams. The other drivers include Daniel Abt, Lucas di Grassi, Sam Bird, Jaime Alguersuari, Bruno Senna, Karun Chandhok, Franck Montagny and Jarno Trulli. For the first season, teams will run the Spark-Renault SRT_01E (two per driver), with the second season allowing teams to develop their own cars within the series specifications.
Chargemaster has installed its 10,000th public EV charging point, reports Hybrid Cars. The symbolically significant charger was put in place at a Park and Ride site in Leicester, UK. With help from the Leicester City Council, the five-year-old company provides the stations for EV drivers to charge their cars during the day while they take Park and Ride services into the city center. Chargemaster currently produces 1,200 charging units a month in Luton for the UK and eight other European countries.
The California Air Resources Board has approved plans to incentivize clean cars and to improve its car scrapping program, according to Green Car Reports. The Air Quality Improvement Program includes $222 million in funding for the 2014-2015 fiscal year. $116 million of that goes to the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, which incentivizes EVs and plug-in hybrids (with hydrogen fuel cell vehicles now eligible for a $5,000 rebate). The rest of the funding will help improve technology and provide incentives for clean service trucks (freight, delivery, drayage, etc.) and pilot programs (such as carsharing) to provide disadvantaged communities with access to clean vehicles. Changes to the scrapping program include limiting it to low-income residents, and ensuring the retired vehicles are actually providing clean air benefits through a Smog Check test to prove roadworthiness.
Lastly, A proposed bill in France could raise EV subsidies from €6,300 to €10,000, says Foro Coches Eléctricos, in an effort to encourage more drivers to switch to the cleaner vehicles. With air pollution being a problem in French cities, Ségolène Royal, Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, hopes her bill could help make the cost of electric cars more competitive with their diesel counterparts. Earlier this year, Paris institiuted a one-day ban on about half of its cars, allowing only vehicles with odd-numbered plates into the city (EVs, hybrids, and cars with at least three occupants were exempt) in response to high levels of smog. Paris has also proposed lowering speed limits within the city to help curb emissions. If Royal's incentives bill passes, it could help make such measures unnecessary in the future.