When Americans think about EVs, they often picture small, nondescript, box-like cars, that may be good for the environment, but have little to no power or acceleration, and are no fun to drive.
EV racing blows apart that stereotype. EV racing, also known as electric motorsport, is car racing featuring races between either all EVs or “open-series” races between EVs and cars of different powertrains.
Why Formula E is Different
According to Automotive News, FIA Formula E, the urban street-racing series “features 10 teams with two drivers a race. They compete in all-electric, Formula One-inspired race cars with a restricted top speed of 140 mph.” Audi and Renault have been part of it since its first season, but now Jaguar, BMW, Mercedes, and Faraday Future are joining names like Andretti and Penske in competition.
The Formula E website states that the FIA Formula E race has one of the best sporting schedules in the world for fans. It features 11 teams and 22 drivers racing in 14 races in 12 of the world’s most progressive cities on 5 continents. According to the site, drivers gain points by attainting the starting position, leading the pack, and having the fastest lap. There are two official winners—the driver and the team. The driver’s championship is awarded to the driver who has accumulated the most points over 7 months, while the team’s championship is based on which team has the drivers with the highest scores.
And because the racecars are electric, there are no scheduled pit stops oil changes and more gas because they’re not needed. Formula E races are not simply Formula One races with EVs and slower speeds. In fact, Formula E racing speeds top 174 mph, and sprints of 63 mph can be reached in 2,8 seconds. The same time it takes a traditional gasoline-powered Formula racecar.
Cutting Edge Technology
What sets Formula E racing apart from Formula One and other races is that EV races are a training ground for new, cutting edge technology. “Formula E wants to become the platform where car manufacturers test and develop the technologies that they will then introduce on their road cars,” said Alejandro Agag, founder, and CEO of Formula E, in a statement. The newest technological achievement for everyday drivers may be born on a Formula E racetrack.
The greatest opportunity for advancing technology right now is in vehicle powertrains. Previously, teams followed “a standard system that included a battery, inverter and single electric motor that drove a four-speed gearbox.” Last season, teams were allowed to build and design their own powertrains, taking E technology to the next level.
Little known manufacturers like NextEV and Faraday Future can test potential new cars long before bringing them to the market. The intense circumstances of the race allow new manufacturers to test cars under extreme circumstances to see what works and what doesn’t. They then make changes for a new car to enter the following year. Many of those strategic changes are filed away for use in models that will be introduced to the public.
Formula E racing has speed and excitement in common with Formula One racing but also serves the purpose of research to bring newer, better, faster, and safer EVs to market. Racing fans and every day EV drivers both benefit from a fun, exciting race, that improves future models of EV.