Formula E already feeds electric technology from race to road, but with teams now working on next generation concepts, the series – and its influence in the electric road car revolution – is moving into overdrive.
Mahindra driver Alexander Sims believes the prospect of new Gen3 machines, which will be launched in 2022/23, is “really exciting” and believes they will accelerate the transfer of technology even further in Formula E.
In the accompanying video, Sims explains how the work of his team and partners ZF and Shell on the new lighter, more powerful, and more efficient machines will revolutionize cars, both in Formula E and on the road.
Small advances, big change
Formula E has pioneered the electric revolution, introducing the first ever all-electric racing series in 2014, then moved from its original Gen1 cars to the futuristic aesthetics of the current Gen2 machines in 2018.
The move to permit individual development has been key to Formula E’s transfer of innovation, and Mahindra’s work with ZF and Shell has enabled it to get Sims and team-mate Alex Lynn into the position to secure podiums and wins this year.
Sims explains: “The big advantage of having an efficient powertrain on track, first of all, is that you will have more energy to use to go in a straight line and accelerate. We’re talking about small margins, but it makes a real difference.
“Formula E now is the motorsport series that is the most relevant to road cars, because manufacturers are able to use that technology that we learn to go back into the products that you see out in the road.”
The gearbox Mahindra has developed with ZF to extend the car’s range will provide information that can be used for EV road cars, as too will the E-fluids being worked on with Shell.
Performance advances also come from software development, improving how the powertrain runs, and the knowledge that engineers gain writing code to improve the efficiency of the car can also be applied to road cars.
The next step
Formula E’s new set of rules for 2022/23 will bring more powerful performance along with fast-charging pit stops, with the aim of demonstrating the new technologies that can make electric road vehicles even more appealing.
Sims explains: “I think we should have 350kW of power and from a racing driver’s perspective, more power is only ever really a good thing. Another thing is to have a front axle motor, [which] will be a big step for us in our race efficiency.
“At the moment the front axle only has mechanical brakes, so when we use the brake pedal that’s just lost into heat. When we can regen – I think up to about 600kW compared to 250kW now – that will improve overall race efficiency.
“The cars potentially are going to be lighter as well, and the prospect of fast charging during the race adds another element we haven’t got at the moment. It’s a really, really exciting prospect and I’m looking forward to it.”
Even further into the future, new technologies such as induction charging strips and improved battery technology could also be expanded upon as Formula E provides the building blocks to help the EV market grow.
And for Mahindra, the challenge of designing and running a faster Formula E car and mastering all these technology advances on the track will provide many more opportunities to feed that into the road cars of the future.
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