Monday, July 4, 2016

California Ivory Ban Now in Effect

Signed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. last October, a new law banning the sale of nearly all ivory in the state of California is effective as of July 1, 2016. 

The ban, which can be found in California Fish and Game Code, section 2022, encompasses teeth and tusks of elephant, hippopotamus, mammoth, mastodon, walrus, warthog, whale and narwhal, as well as rhinoceros horn, regardless of whether it is raw, worked or powdered, or from a store or a private collection. Under the law, advertising the sale of any items containing ivory is also strictly prohibited.

“The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) continues its active role with our federal partners to end wildlife trafficking, which poses a critical threat to conservation throughout the world,” said David Bess, Chief of CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division. “This law provides another tool to aid in this effort.”

Under the new law, raw ivory and most crafted items that include ivory may no longer be purchased, sold or possessed with the intent to sell, with limited exceptions, including the following:
  • Ivory or rhino horn that is part of a bona fide antique (with historical documentation showing the antique is at least 100 years old) provided the item is less than 5 percent ivory or rhino horn by volume;
  • Ivory or rhino horn that is part of a musical instrument (with documentation of pre-1975 construction) provided the instrument contains less than 20 percent ivory or rhino horn by volume; and
  • Activities expressly authorized by federal law, or federal exemptions or permits.
California has a long history in the legal and illegal trafficking market of ivory within the United States. Although the sale of ivory and elephant parts has been illegal in California since 1977 (and nationwide since 1990), the new law closed a loophole that allowed the continued sale of ivory that was imported into the state before 1977.

The sale of ivory, rhino horn or products that contain ivory will be a misdemeanor, punishable by fines up to $50,000 and one year of incarceration.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Faraday Future Join All Electric Racing Series

It’s the announcement that California-based electric car company Faraday Future – or FF as they prefer to be known - and FIA Formula E fans have been waiting for since FF debuted its show-stopping FFZero1 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this year - FF will be joining Formula E, the all-electric racing series.

At a press conference today at the 2016 FIA Formula E London ePrix, FF announced a long-term alliance with Dragon Racing, one of the 10 existing Formula E teams, becoming the core technical partner and title sponsor of the team. The new team name will be Faraday Future Dragon Racing, and the partnership will officially initiate at the beginning of Season 3 (2016/2017) at the Formula E Hong Kong ePrix on October 9, 2016. LeEco — the Chinese company that is financing Faraday Future while working on its own electric car — will also be involved in the sponsorship with Dragon Racing.

Faraday Future and Dragon Racing will work together in Season 3 (2016/17) to develop key technology software solutions to maximize performance capabilities within the vehicles’ powertrains while Faraday Future’s R&D team will look for opportunities within the Dragon Racing platform to improve overall drivetrain performance. They will also refine data acquisition and analytics to improve vehicle simulation models, which will aid in more accurate predictions of vehicle performance and efficiency.

The announcement was made by FF executives including Marco Mattiacci, Global Chief Brand & Commercial Officer and Nick Sampson, Senior Vice President, Global R&D and Engineering.
 “Formula E has placed a significant emphasis on electric performance and connectivity, which makes it a great fit for Faraday Future,” said Mattiacci. “Formula E has leveraged a community of fans and embodies the competitive spirit that we also share.”

At an executive level, Mattiacci will oversee the company’s partnership with Dragon Racing, while Sampson and his team will lead the technical co-operation.

“Partnering with Dragon Racing allows us to further showcase our electric vehicle leadership and technical capabilities in one of the most exciting Formulas in the world,” said Sampson. “I clearly see Formula E as the right venue to challenge our engineers and technologies in the most extreme performance conditions.”

“We are thrilled to welcome Faraday Future into Formula E. Faraday Future is a brand that is targeting the highest standard in terms of design, R&D, and manufacturing of electric cars,” said Alejandro Agag, FIA Formula E President. “We couldn’t be happier that they have chosen Formula E to challenge some of the greatest car companies in the world. This announcement again proves that Formula E is truly the future of motorsport.”

In the Season 4 (2017/2018) and beyond, Faraday Future and Dragon Racing will work together to implement various Faraday powertrain components, software, firmware, and other hardware as the team sees fit. This could include Faraday Future motors, gearbox, and the FF Echelon Inverter – the same inverter that will be installed into every future Faraday Future production vehicle. While competing in the Formula E World Championship Series, FF technology will encounter some of the most challenging and strenuous conditions the world has to offer.

First Production Vehicles?

Joining Formula E will give Faraday Future another way to test out the technologies that could wind up in a first mass-market car. The first question that is almost always asked by FF’s fans is “When will the first production models hit the streets?”

When I recently asked the FF PR team about when one could expect to see the first production vehicles, the reply I received was, “FF’s first production vehicle will combine innovative connectivity, autonomous ready, holistic design, and assertive performance in tandem.” In terms of autonomous driving, the key words seem to be “autonomous ready.”

Regarding a question about FF “mules” that may or may not have been driving the roads in Michigan and other states, FF had this to say, “Regarding the Michigan plates, they will be used to help test various FF vehicles prototypes and features on public roads. Michigan is an important state for automotive manufacturers, and the manufacturer plates provides Faraday Future with flexibility and options for testing future prototypes on public roads. However, no dates have been confirmed for testing at this time.”

I also asked how FF was planning to unit extreme tech/entertainment/environmental responsibility. The reply was, “From a connectivity and entertainment perspective, FF will benefit from our strategic partnership with LeEco, providing a breakthrough experience in streaming content, platforms and smart devices.” The importance of internet connectivity was stressed by Jia Yueting, the LeEco founder, during the London press conference.

According to FF, “In terms of vehicle performance, FF’s VPA platform gives us the ability to add or remove battery strings based on vehicle wheelbase and decrease production time by not having to develop a new platform from the ground up. The entire platform and various hardware components are scalable, quickly.”

“From a safety perspective, unlike a conventionally powered car, EVs have no large engine up front to intrude into the passenger compartment during a collision. This means the front and rear crumple zones can effectively dissipate the kinetic energy of a crash.”

“Finally, from an environmental perspective, power for EVs can be produced domestically, and from renewable resources.”

As to the question about when the first production vehicles will hit the road in China or the U.S., the answer was, “We will bring a car to market in the next couple of years that will be in the premium segment.”

While the first production vehicles may not be exactly as drop-dead gorgeous as the hormones-into-overdrive inducing FFZero1, it doesn’t sound as if they going to be of the anonymous blob variety either. Unlike those FF mules which may or may not be driving themselves in the lanes next to us on the interstate.