smaller, lighter and more powerful than
anything out there, and it’s probably
completely compatible with a racecar.”
Formula E is only at the beginning of its
journey into developing electric vehicle tech.
It would be naïve to think otherwise. That’s
why the marketing aspect is so strong for
a manufacturer at the moment: it can say
it’s competing in an electric racing series,
push the message of electric mobility and
zero emissions, and it’s onto a winner.
But there does have to be payback down
the line. The message from those joining in
is that it has a lot of real-world relevance,
especially as the series’ technical roadmap
develops. Increases in power output and
energy capacity go hand-in-hand with what
manufacturers need to know for road cars.
“This is an extended part of our
development,” insists Jaguar’s director
of engineering, Nick Rogers. “It’s an
opportunity to push boundaries, and the
learning we’ll get is absolutely incredible.
“The way the FE roadmap is laid out is
really going to pull together technologies
that will be incredibly relevant to the real
world. It’s nice those technologies will find
their way into production vehicles.”
Going back to that image of the
2018/’ 19 Formula E season, that’s when
the series will introduce a new-spec chassis
and a battery with far greater capacity (the
target is to drop the mid-race car swaps
currently required due to a lack of range).
The powertrain war will have long since
begun, but the real fun will just be starting.
The championship is unlikely to move
away from a spec chassis because the
ability to focus on a straight fight on the
technological side is one of the appealing
competitive factors to manufacturers. As
part of that tech fight, the series is
eventually (but not before 2020) going to
open up the battery supply, which means
manufacturers developing their own, or
partnering with specialist suppliers.
This is where it gets interesting, from
a competitive and technical perspective.
“The range anxiety is key to electric
vehicles,” points out Jaguar’s Rogers.
“Where better to try that than in a situation
where you’ll get incredible current drains at
incredible rates driving and decelerating?”
This would help target one of the key
stumbling blocks to the proliferation of
electric vehicles, and there’s no doubt that
any gains made on how far one fully-charged
battery can take you in a competitive auto
race will translate into that respective
manufacturer’s road-car technology.
But the desire for manufacturers to
innovate opens other doors as well. Torque
vectoring, for example. Or massively
increased scope for harvesting energy back
under braking. Or huge battery capacities
– “100k Wh is the magic number,” says DS
Virgin’s chief technical officer Sylvain Filippi,
who targets the seventh season, starting
in 2020, as the start of big innovation.
“The ultimate electric car will have
batteries everywhere,” he adds, “with
“It’s an opportunity to
push boundaries, and the
learning we’ll get is
with ABT Schaeffler
will escalate to a full
factory effort for the
2017/’ 18 season.
Formula E program
is an extension of its
road car activities.
The visionary behind
FIA Formula E
Spaniard Agag has
speculation that he
could have a future
role in the running
of Formula 1.