05 Jun 2018
Formula E: Shaping the Way for Electric Road Vehicles
Formula E, the electric vehicle racing counterpart to Formula 1, is currently nearing the end of its fourth competitive season. Since its inception, the championship has been pushing electric vehicle technology allowing the development of more powerful and efficient road vehicles. Later this year, at the start of the fifth season, Formula E will be looking intensely different and will break through electric vehicle boundaries.
The current Formula E cars have an open-wheel design much like Formula 1 cars and don’t look vastly different overall, but the performance leaves much to be desired. The one thing holding back the Championship is the most crucial element of all – the car. As it stands, a Formula E racer cannot go without swapping vehicles. The battery, due to its capacity, does not last the length of a typical race on a single charge causing an awkward exchange in the middle of the race. In a sport trying to highlight the promise of electric vehicles, having to switch entire cars during a race is not something to brag about. Adding on top of that, in an effort to preserve the battery, the vehicles are not as fast as one would hope them to be and nowhere near as fast as F1 cars.
Introducing the Gen2 Formula E Car
Revealed earlier this year, the Gen2 Formula E car sports a very different, futuristic look compared to its predecessor. With no longer an open-wheel design, the new vehicle has been dubbed the ‘Batmobile’ for its sharp curves and sleek design. The new car will also include the halo protection system that was introduced this season in Formula 1. The vehicle’s new features are more than just cosmetic, however, as there are improvements beneath its exterior that will change not only the Formula E Championship but the future of electric vehicles in general.
With double the capacity, the upgraded battery in the Gen2 car means racers will no longer require a vehicle change allowing for a more fluid racing experience for fans. Enclosing the wheels improves the aerodynamics of the vehicle cutting drag and extending the range. The car will also use 200kW as its primary race power mode for increased speeds of up to 280 km/h (175 mph). The 2018/2019 season will be a whole new racing experience for the drivers and fans.
FE - here to stay
FE has made leaps and bounds in its first four years and those involved are committed to improving the technology of electric vehicles with the ultimate goal of bringing the technology to everyday electric road cars. The sport continues to draw interest from new manufacturers and teams as EV technology gains popularity. Several new teams will be joining the mix in the coming seasons including Mercedes-Benz and Porsche.
Formula E has influenced one major car manufacturer. In 2016, Jaguar was the first premium car manufacturer to join Formula E. The company recently announced that from 2020 all-new Jaguar Land Rover vehicles will be electrified. Joining the Championship gives manufacturers the opportunity to take their experience and knowledge of electric vehicle technology from the track and apply them directly to the development of road vehicles. Improvements and advancements in battery capacity and quick charging will be a game changer for electric vehicles both in racing and on the road; a win for Formula E cars is a win for a future without petrol.
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