This year, the Goodwood Festival of Speed turned a very important corner. It achieved something that may prove to have its own, very special effect on the direction of motoring in the decades ahead.
Over the past 28 years, 'FoS' has expanded exponentially from its original status as a kind of one-day country fair for cars (though even in the beginning, five times more people came than were expected).
By popular agreement it has become the greatest, best attended and most eclectic festival of motoring on the planet, stretching over four action-packed days and attracting exhibits and attendees from every corner of the globe.
Yet this year’s FoS achieved something even greater than usual. Goodwood has always prided itself on looking forward as well as back, but in 2022 it exceeded its own high standards, presenting as many spectacular, emotionally stirring and hugely desirable electric cars as it did piston-powered machines, a development that made a powerful and unmissable comment on motoring’s exciting future as its supporting industry moves quickly and inexorably towards electrification.
You only had to see the crowds swirling around the 1973bhp Ford Supervan, the latest and fastest of a four-generation line stretching back to the 1970s to see people getting the EV message. Supervan 4, even more radically styled than its predecessors, can demolish a 0-62mph acceleration run in two seconds, and demonstrated the fact repeatedly. Even sceptics — the petrolhead-until-I-die brigade — seemed to be opening their minds before your very eyes.
The awesome hill performance of the diminutive McMurtry Speirling fan-car, another pure EV, drew huge attention, and so did a whole clutch of million pound-plus battery-powered supercars, arguably led by the Rimac Nevera which for all its beauty and practicality, claimed equal off-the-mark acceleration to the amazing white Ford van.
Goodwood’s status as a motor show for customers of production cars is well known, so it was logical that the latest crop of production EVs was prominently on parade in the brilliantly curated Electric Avenue — everything from the rule-changing Lotus Eletre crossover, soon to be built in China, to a concept for the forthcoming Renault 5, plus stuff like the Fisker Ocean and the Polestar 5. Happily for car-sellers, the place seemed permanently packed.
Hybrids weren’t so fashionable this year, though a long awaited outing for the complex, much-delayed Mercedes-AMG One hypercar (unveiled in 2017, remember?) did grab attention with its 1.6-litre F1 hybrid powertrain and twin electric drive motors on the front axle. Sadly, many newer and cheaper cars seemed to have more appealing styling, surely a Mercedes own goal...
No-one in the EV bracket — hypercar or otherwise — was doing much boasting about early customer deliveries. The semiconductors much needed for today’s cars remain in drastically short supply. But car makers of all kinds nevertheless positioned themselves for a rapid entry into the market if and when a reliable chip flow begins again.