It’s been an exciting weekend at the Infineon Raceway watching the 2010 eGrandPrix, TTXGP. And, after all the bikes were on course, I had some time sit down and talk with Azhar Hussain about the TTXGP series and its importance.

In the following conversation, Hussain talks about how combustion engines are moving towards electric and what kind of system we need to make EVs a lasting part of the equation.

SS: So let’s go way back, to before the 2009 Isle of Man event. How did TTXGP get started? What inspired you to do this?

AH: Well, what’s interesting is that we thought we were moving into the racing industry, but really, racing has been coming to us. Internal combustion race engines have become increasingly electronic. So really, even though in e-bikes we’re all from the tech industry, that’s what’s needed, that’s where the future really is. And with the Isle of Man, we had a great supporter in Isle of Man Minister for Local Government and Environment, the Hon John Shimmin, MHK. He really wanted to see racing become more environmentally-friendly. In the past year since the very first race, held in conjunction with the historic Isle of Man Manx TT, electric motorcycles have seen major technological advances. Just the amount of development the teams have reported happening over the weekend has been enormous.

The announcers did frequently mention how great the race was going, considering all the gremlins the teams had experienced during practice and qualifying. Also, most of the team members I spoke with talked about the amount of development they’d accomplished over the weekend, and the work that lay ahead of them.

SS: Do you see the major manufacturers getting involved anytime soon?

AH: Incumbents generally have an advantage to maintaining the status quo. Since their entire business model is based around gas-powered engines, it’s a lot harder for them to change. I suspect it will be hard for them to make such a drastic shift in their mindset, but I really can’t speak for them.

SS: Which do you think is more important, or do you think they’re equally important- battery life or charging infrastructure (like Better Place)?

AH: The thing is, we need a whole new system. It’s not one or the other, we need to think bigger than that. This series enables us to push things forward faster. Entrepreneurs like Carolyn here (Owner of Luscious Garage, a PHEV conversion specialist) are the real game changers. But that’s for a later interview…

Photo of Azhar & Jennifer, Courtesy David Folch