The perception of driving electric has changed with the quickly growing popularity of Formula E
It’s strange to think of world renown ideas debuting on the back of a napkin, it sounds impractical but some of the biggest ideas in business, science, politics and showbiz began as doodles on the damp rag from underneath a cocktail glass.
It almost seems too good to be true, but that ‘a- ha moment’, on the back of a napkin in a restaurant in Paris on the evening of March 3, 2011 found its way to FIA President Jean Todt and Spanish businessman Alejandro Agag.
Written in just a few words, the pairs creativity was enough to spark the development of a racing series that would demonstrate the potential of sustainable mobility to help create a better, cleaner world.
Today, FIA Formula E, has grown in global popularity to become an entertainment brand which has plugged into the zeitgeist of today’s environmentally conscious.
Since its global debut in the grounds of the Olympic Park in Beijing in 2014, the championship has become a destination for the worlds best motorsport teams and talent. Formula E has generated enough interest to collectively accelerate the changing consumer mindset, acting as a constructive catalyst for sustainable change.
Formula E Championship - The revolution of all-electric racing
‘Formula E serves as a competitive platform for global car manufacturers and mobility providers to test and develop road-relevant technologies. Through racing on the streets, the series acts as a catalyst, helping to refine the design of electric vehicles and improve the driving experience for everyday road car users all over the world’.
Now, building on five seasons of all-electric street racing, Formula E has helped in utilising a laboratory for automotive development, yielding advancements ‘like antilock brakes, traction control, and dual-clutch transmissions - to help EV manufacturers and suppliers like BMW, Nissan, Audi, Panasonic, Mahindra and Jaguar move their battery-powered products forward. Not just to showcase what electric can do, but to make them better’.
Formula E’s vehicles are intentionally designed to ensure teams focus on pushing electric vehicle technology forward on a competitive basis. Strict rules apply, for teams race identical cars with the same battery technology. However teams have the liberty to modify elements of the drivetrain, ensuring that the competitive advantage from each team are in the ways of achieving the best possible performance for an electric system.
Electric Vehicles today are undeniably fun to drive, given their instant talk and sometimes comically absurd acceleration. The criticism comes in the way of battery viability, given the amount of time it takes to charge a vehicle. The challenges lay within the range for longer driving trips, for what might inherently dissuade the consumer mindset when making the jump from a combustion engine to an electric vehicle.
Formula E’s clever racing rules have presented a version of a problem to its competitors. Teams are not allowed to charge or replace their battery mid-race, which has forced compulsory drive innovation. The success of Formula E, as a result of these rules, depends on wise energy management. Drivers conditioned response to pit stops have been forgotten, as now they have to tactically consider the remaining energy levels of their vehicle when performing attacking manoeuvres in the race. The advantage teams only have over rivals comes down to figuring out how to optimise the energy efficiency of the vehicle. The transformative technology is now making its way into the compelling alternatives for electric vehicles.
‘The focus of Formula E is efficient, and deriving the maximum efficiency out of your powertrain systems’, says Nissan Global Motorsports Director Michael Carcamo, who adds that Nissan’s Formula E car has computer code governing battery that was borrowed from the LEAF, the company’s popular street electric vehicle. And while the company is using the software in a completely different way during a race, Formula E helps us understand the limits of the code, he says’. ‘How to maximise energy management is one of the things we’ve learned’, says Carcamo.
The racing series has integrated a sustainability mindset. It has disrupted motorsport, in redefining the very boundaries of what a sport can be through the unique fashion of sustainability, entertainment, technology and innovation. As it continues to help drive the development of technology, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the transition from fossil fuels is showing that the progressive future of electric cars is exciting!