Formula E – Electric Cars race on the city street circuits

From the provision of the first engine to the use of automobiles in wars and race tracks, we have seen many wonders of ICE four-wheelers. Electric vehicles compete in their own racing championship called ABB FIA Formula E.

About Formula E – motorsport championship for electric cars

More than half a century after the first Grand Prix, Formula E was conceived in Paris in the year 2011. The race made its debut in 2014 in Beijing and is governed by the FIA (International Automobile Federation – that is also the governing body for Formula 1). The championship has been established as an open series, i.e. manufacturers may launch their own designs to race. Formula E provides a platform for the manufacturers to test and innovate in the EV space.

Since 2017-18 season, Formula E is known as ABB FIA Formula E. Global car manufacturers like Jaguar, Audi, Nissan, BMW, Mahindra, Mercedes Benz and DS are among the teams that showcase and compete in the electric edition of Formula racing.

Indian contender Mahindra Racing has been competing in the Championship since 2014.

Mahindra Racing
Formula E has a concept of online FanBoost – top drivers get a power boost of 100kJ for 5 seconds

Comparison with Formula 1

While F1 evolved from street motor racing to a world-class racing contest, the idea of FE is particularly targeted at developing EVs and encouraging innovation in electric vehicles. Most Formula E racing takes place on street circuits in city centres with narrow roads and little runoff – as opposed to purpose-built racing circuits used in Formula 1.

The top speed of F1 cars is a whopping 233mph with an acceleration of 0-62mph (0-100km/h) in a mere 1.7 seconds. Corresponding figures for Gen 2 Formula E cars are 174mph and 2.84 seconds respectively. 

Formula E cars use more efficient 18-inch tyres as opposed to slick 13-inch ones used in Formula 1. The length of a Formula E circuit falls between nearly 2 and 3 kilometres, with the total race distance between 80 and 100 kilometres. This is in contrast to Formula 1 wherein the minimum total distance of a race is 305 kilometres with varying circuit lengths. FE race lasts for approx 50 minutes with one concluding power lap whereas an F1 race takes between 90–120 minutes.

Specifications of Formula E cars

In the initial seasons of the championship, the drivers were supposed to change cars mid-race due to the prevailing issue of battery discharge. This mid-race car change was eliminated from the 2018/19 season with the introduction of 54 kWh battery over earlier 28 kWh battery.  In terms of Power, Gen 2 cars have 250 kW at their disposal, that is restricted to 200 kW for the race.

Gen 2 Formula E car

All teams use the same Lithium-ion battery technology. The teams can design and develop their own electric components and parts for the powertrain.

Future of Formula E

Formula E cars may not produce a thrilling noise like Formula 1 but they are subject to never-ending advancements and within half a decade, an entire new generation of racing electric cars (Gen 2) has brought tremendous advancements in terms of max speed, power, acceleration and battery sizes over Gen 1 of electric racing cars. We have learnt that the next generation of Formula E is expected to be introduced by the FIA for the 2022-2023 season. According to reports, the Gen 3 will have up to 450 kW of regeneration capability, with electric brake-by-wire rear brakes. As of now, the races are short and cars are not charged mid-race. FIA is contemplating the installation of 30-second fast-charging pit stops with charging capability up to 450 kW as a part of Gen 3 racing.

FIM MotoE World Cup, an analogous concept for motorcycles, organized by the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme and Dorna Sports was inaugurated in 2018. 

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