If you think electric vehicles will never compete in the world of high-speed motor racing, you could be in for a surprise.
The global motor racing body, the FIA, plans to show off just what the cutting edge of electric vehicle technology can do with a new Formula ‘E’ (Electric) Championship racing series starting in September and using high-profile urban race tracks around the hearts of ten of the world’s major cities - from Beijing and Monte Carlo, to Long Beach and Miami.
“We expect this Championship to become the framework for research and development around the electric car, a key element for the future of our cities," said Alejandro Agag, CEO of the new championship racing group, Formula E Holdings.
The fully electric, zero-emission vehicles, are based on the Spark-Renault SRT-01E model, built by new French electric racing car company Spark Racing Technology. Able to draw on up to 200KW of electric power with the help of a ‘Boost’ button, the new cars can accelerate from 0-62 mph in three seconds and hit a maximum speed of around 140 mph.
Build partners include Italian lightweight, carbon fiber and aluminum chassis maker Dallara, the U.K’s McLaren Electronics Systems for all the electric powertrain and electronics, British-based racing companies Williams for the lithium ion batteries and Hewland for the gearbox, Michelin for tires, and French automaker Renault to help oversee integration.
Starting in the heart of Beijing on September 13, the cars will also race along iconic city-center tracks in Putrajaya in Malaysia, Punta Del Este in Uruguay, Buenos Aires in Argentina, Miami FL, Long Beach CA, Monte Carlo, Berlin and London during the championship.
Noting that the first electric car (though just a model) was actually built by Hungarian engineer Ányos Jedlik way back in 1828, the new 21st Century Formula E racing series seeks to achieve two key things, say the organizers. First, it aims to create a framework for research and development around electric vehicles, pushing the boundaries of electric innovation, and encouraging and testing the very latest technological advances.
Secondly it wants to “make people believe in electric cars”.
“One of the biggest issues electric vehicles face is image,” says the Formula E group. “Many people think they won't work for them or will be too slow but we want to show everyone what electric cars can really do, through motorsport, and to help shape perceptions of what is cool and exciting.”
“Formula E is convinced that the future of modern, mass transport, particular in cities and urban areas, lies in electric vehicles,” it adds.
And for all those petrol heads who argue that electric engines will never sound as good as full-throttle, ear-splitting, gas-guzzling, rib-vibrating petrol engines round a racetrack … well, they will certainly sound different; more like fighter jets these days (Click here to listen.)
Will this sound soon be coming to a city near you?
Written by Paul Tate
Paul Tate is Research Director and Executive Editor with Frost & Sullivan's Manufacturing Leadership Council. He also directs the Manufacturing Leadership Council's Board of Governors, the Council's annual Critical Issues Agenda, and the Manufacturing Leadership Research Panel. Follow us on Twitter: @MfgExecutive