Here’s Why Formula E Is Important To A Future Of EVs

Modified On Feb 15, 2023 09:33 AM By Sonny

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India recently hosted the international electric motorsport for the first time in the city of Hyderabad

Formula E Hyderabad E-Prix

The connection between motorsports and road cars is strongly intertwined throughout automotive history. Technology developed for racing almost always eventually finds its way into regular cars and the same goes for electric cars and the sport of Formula E.

What is Formula E?

It is the leading, all-electric, single-seater motorsport championship, conceived in 2011 with the first race (called an E-Prix) in 2014. Most races are conducted on street circuits and the sport is now in its ninth season. The race cars themselves have evolved immensely, now in their third generation and faster than ever.

Formula E Hyderabad E-Prix

As the sport continues to grow, it has added India to its race calendar and the first ever E-Prix of the country was recently hosted in Hyderabad. It was the first international motorsport championship event to take place in India in nearly a decade.

What brands are in Formula E?

The electric racing series has attracted the attention of many renowned automakers looking to develop their own range of electric cars. Even though a lot of the components of the racecars are standardised and supplied from the same manufacturers, such as the battery pack and much of the chassis, the electric powertrain and the battery management systems are open to development by the teams. 

Formula E 2018

Of the many automotive brands to have taken part in Formula E, two are directly connected to India - Mahindra and Jaguar (counted as part of the Tata Group). Other big manufacturers in the sport, past and present, include Renault, Nissan, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Porsche. 

The grid further features independent racing teams that sometimes borrow components from one of the manufacturer teams. For example, in the current Formula E championship, Envision Racing is a customer team for Jaguar TCS Racing. This helps the manufacturer collect even more data to try and realise the full potential of its EV technologies.

What can be learned from Formula E?

As mentioned earlier, the race cars have changed a lot since the electric motorsport began. When it started, the organisers faced the challenge of developing a battery electric powertrain suitable for driving at race pace for 45 minutes without being too large and heavy. After looking into battery swapping technology, they settled instead on swapping cars halfway. A few years on, the Gen2 Formula E car was unveiled with almost double the energy capacity (54kWh) with better energy recuperation, all in a similar sized package and offered increased performance as well. 

Formula E Racecar evolution

With the latest Gen3 cars, the powertrain has evolved even further. The cars are smaller, lighter and faster. They now have an electric motor in the front to help recuperate more than 40 percent of energy at charge rates of up to 600kW. This has allowed the batteries to be a bit smaller while still allowing for sufficient racing range and increased performance.

Similar improvements have been observed in the battery-powered electric cars for the road. Manufacturers are able to offer increased range from the same battery capacity by using new technologies to optimise the power delivery and improve regenerative capabilities. Or, sometimes carmakers will manage to pack more energy into the same sized battery. Even the ability to reduce the weight of batteries and powertrains by developing new structural designs and using new compounds has helped make EVs better.

Formula E Jaguar

Also read: Here’s A Mahindra XUV400 EV For Formula E Lovers

Peek into the future of EVs

Just the way we saw hybrid technology being used for performance gains in F1 with smaller engines and are only now seeing supercars for the road with similar technologies, Formula E is the hotbed for EV development. So if you want to see what can be expected from an electric car in the near future, just have a look at the cars used in this electrifying motorsport series and maybe choose to add Formula E to your watchlist.

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