AutoMatters: FIA Formula-e & olloclip at International CES


AutoMatters’ coverage of the 2014 International CES continues with the Las Vegas debut of the FIA’s new Formula-e Championship racing series, as well as more cool new products: olloclip camera lenses for the iPhone.

The FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) is the governing body for the Formula One race series, which is at the very pinnacle of open-wheeled car racing in the world. During the International CES the new FIA Formula-e racecar was unveiled: an open-wheeled, electric, single-seater that will see competition in 2014 and beyond.

Maximum power (estimated equivalent to 270bhp) will be available during practice and qualifying.

The “Race Mode” estimated equivalent will be 180bhp, with available “Push-to-Pass” (providing an additional 90bhp equivalent). The Spark-Renault SRT_01E powerplant will accelerate these sleek racecars to speeds in excess of 150mph, with 0 – 62mph coming in an estimated 2.9 seconds. Unlike with gas engines, the incredible torque of these electric engines provides near-instant acceleration, as we observed during partial power demonstration laps around a Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas parking lot during the debut. The acceleration is brutal. Taking care of the tires will be an exciting challenge.

The motor was designed and built by Spark Racing Technologies, together with a consortium of who’s who in motorsports: including Dallara (chassis), McLaren (powertrain amd electronics), Williams (battery design), Renault (system integration) and Michelin (tires). San Diego’s Qualcomm is a major sponsor, along with Michelin, Renault, TagHeuer and DHL.

There will be ten international race teams: Andretti Autosport (USA), Audi Sport ABT (Germany), China Racing, Dragon Racing (USA – Jay Penske, President), Drayson Racing (UK), e.dams (France – co-founded by Alain Prost), Mahindra Racing (India), Super Aguri (Japan), Venturi Grand Prix (Monaco – co-founded by Leonardo DiCaprio) and Virgin Racing (UK).

Each team will consist of two drivers who will share the driving duties for the one-hour races. In the US, TV coverage will be on Fox Sports.

In the first year all of the racecars will be identical. After that, teams will develop their own cars. Details are not yet finalized but in Las Vegas I heard that in the first year there will be two cars per team per race. One car and driver will compete in the first half of the race. Then a second car and a second driver will finish the race. The plan after that first year will be for the cars to continually recharge as they drive over an electrified section of track. No doubt what is learned here will someday be applied to electric cars that you and I may drive on the street.

The innaugural Formula-e race is scheduled to take place on Sept. 13, 2014 through the streets of Beijing, China, followed by races in Malaysia, Brazil (Rio de Janeiro) and Uruguay. In 2015 the racing will continue in Buenos Aires, Argentina, followed by Los Angeles, Miami, Monte Carlo, Berlin and London.

For more information, go to

Back on the show floor I discovered high quality, slip-on auxiliary lenses for use with an iPhone. The company that makes these is called olloclip, and the lenses that I tried on my iPhone 4S are their new 4-in-1 photo lens ($69.99), and their combination telephoto lens and circular polarizing filter ($99.99).

The 4-in-1 includes a very cool fisheye lens, a wide-angle lens and two macro lenses (10x and 15x). The telephoto lens is 2x, which is a huge improvement in zoom, particularly when shooting iPhone videos. Along with the telephoto lens is a circular polarizing filter that can be used in combination with any of the other lenses.

All of these lenses are manufactured from precision-ground, coated glass optics. A CNC machine makes the barrels from anodized, aircraft-grade aluminum. The lenses easily yet firmly slip on and off of iPhones, and can be carried in a shirt pocket. The kits include soft pouches that double as microfiber lens cleaning cloths, lens caps and an iPod Touch adapter.

A recently introduced, slim iPhone case ($49.99) is designed for use with the lenses. It includes a pro-photo adapter with a quick-flip rotating corner that doubles as a shutter release, and two threaded mounts so that the iPhone can be attached to a tripod in landscape and portait orientations. A cold shoe provides a means to attach a small video light, microphone or other accessory.

For more information and system price discounts, see

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Copyright © 2014 by Jan Wagner – #316