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Sep 05, 2014
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“Mynavi Ene-1 GP SUZUKA 2014” (sponsored by Mobilityland Corporation, Suzuka Circuit), a next-generation energy car event at Suzuka Circuit, Japan, was held on August 3, 2014, with cars powered by Panasonic's rechargeable EVOLTA batteries.
A record-breaking total of 98 teams took part in the "KV-40 Challenge" for electric vehicles, and the "KV-BIKE Challenge" for commercially available bicycles that have been motorized, with participants from all over Japan ranging from middle school students to ordinary adults. The 1st place honor in the KV-40 Challenge went to a high school team for the first time ever.
This year marked the 4th time that the Ene-1 GP was held at Suzuka Circuit since the event began in 2011. It was created to activate today's "Innovative Production Society" by promoting technology and training highly skilled staff under the theme of "Innovative Production and Energy Management." Originally consisting of the KV-40 Challenge for electric vehicles, the event was expanded this year to include the KV-BIKE Challenge for commercially available bicycles that have been motorized.
As an official partner of the event, Panasonic supplies a variety of equipment, such as its long-lasting rechargeable EVOLTA batteries and battery chargers. Participating teams compete in vehicles that are powered by 40 rechargeable EVOLTA AA-size batteries.
The electric vehicles in the KV-40 Challenge class perform three Time Attacks that consist of one lap each (5.807 km) around the Suzuka Circuit international racing course, and the shortest total time determines the winner. Held on an extremely rigorous course that combines punishing up-down sections with consecutive curves, more than half of the competitors (54 vehicles) were unable to complete all three Time Attacks. Surprisingly, a high school team that had finished among the top ranking teams in each of the previous year's races came in 1st place overall this year. The KV-BIKE Challenge consisted of one Time Attack on the East Course (2.243 km) and a 1-hour durability race. Since the rules for both competitions prohibit additional recharging, each team devised a variety of unique innovations — from carefully selecting the vehicle's materials to designing the shape, controlling the weight, and even determining the driver's position and posture in the vehicle — in order to take maximum advantage of the batteries' characteristics.
On the day of the races, a Handmade Battery Class was also held for elementary school students, with more than 80 students and parents attending. This gave the students a fun way to learn about battery types and structures, and allowed them to make their own manganese dry cell batteries. Cheers erupted as the students used their handmade batteries to power miniature light bulbs.
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