Momentum is everything in motor racing and the unveiling of the new Formula E race car at the Frankfurt Motor Show shows this exciting series is beginning to gather some serious pace.
By all reports electric vehicles (EVs) have been all the rage at the event further indicating the motor industry’s preference to develop eco-friendly cars. You only have to look as far as BMW’s impressive i8 to see what impact EVs are going to have on the future.
From my standpoint, Formula E in particular will shape all kinds of major technological advances in the next five to 10 years – most of which will affect in someway how we as humans approach mobility in true megacities like London and Tokyo.
It’s only around the corner when every black cab you’ll see in London will be running electric or hybrid and the city (expect for screeching brakes on just about every bus, car and truck) will be quieter and almost pollution free.
While the first year of the Formula E series will see all 10 teams compete using the same Spark-Renault SRT-01E, I think we’ll really start to see benefits of the series once teams start developing their own cars.
Having a top driver in the first year might snatch the title, but what will count going forward is how teams devise solutions to out-develop each other in specific areas such as battery control, cooling efficiency, power optimization/management and my personal favorite (once 4WD is introduced) 4WD torque vectoring.
Critically, this can give teams the chance to monetize what they’ve created and translate that outside the garage. As we’ve seen at McLaren in recent years their focus has grown strongly on increasing the output of their premium sports cars which draw on the team’s F1 expertise and technology.
With the right minds focused on the drawing board there is a plethora of cutting-edge technologies and systems that can be developed in Formula E and translated to the everyday person living in a modern day metropolis.
Reducing anxiety range in electric road cars will most probably be one of the first problems solved through Formula E. Battery development will progress at a lightning speed and it won’t be long until this makes its way to the consumer.
Tesla’s 90-second battery change is also an interesting step forward. If Formula E can harness and translate this then the proposed ‘car change pitstop’ could quickly be a thing of the past as drivers pit over a battery plate and have a fresh cell loaded within 20 seconds – effectively replacing the petrol pump.
What is exciting is that this is all technology that can realistically filter down to the average eDriver – someone who relies on mobility and wants it to be in an eco-friendly and sustainable form.
Formula E will start us thinking about ‘mobility as a service’ which can help drive more efficient and sustainable transport. It will enable us to build new business models to ease the cost of EVs for the average person and this is all done through racing the best part of motorsport!
The series will certainly be a spectacle and crucially it gets right to the heartbeat of cities like Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aries, Los Angles and Rome with street circuits likely to attract thousands of onlookers.