Race to Road: Innovations from Formula E to Electrify the Roads
Posted on: 26 February, 2019
Less than a year ago, Mahindra & Mahindra Group announced the launch of Automobili Pininfarina, the world’s newest sustainable luxury car brand.
There's now less than a week to go until Automobili Pinifarina unveils its first road car, named Battista, the first luxury hyper car of the future.
"Electric cars are the future" is an adage heard quite often – it seems that time though, has already arrived. Electric cars are employing high-technology solutions to ready humanity for a post-oil world amid rising global temperatures; the need for clean and sustainable energy sources is one of the most pressing issues of our generation. Most western European countries plan to completely phase out the production of internal combustion engines by the year 2030 and the United States, Japan and China are not far behind.
It was over dinner at a small Italian restaurant in Paris in early 2011, when FIA president Jean Todt opened up a conversation revolving around electrification of the automobile industry and creating a racing series linked to that. Fast-forward three years to September 2014 and the lights went green on the first ever Formula E race in Beijing. The ‘E’ here stands for electric, of course.
Now in its fifth season, the ABB FIA Formula E Championship has positioned itself as the place to be, with global automotive manufacturers joining at an impressive rate. BMW and Nissan have joined this season and Mercedes-Benz and Porsche will be joining next year. This is where technology meets the high-adrenaline sport in city centres around the world.
In Formula E, car manufacturers have found a great platform for showcasing their electric innovations and creating a proving ground for road car technologies.
Mahindra Racing has already been tapping technology from Formula E for its upcoming electric hypercar, developed by Automobili Pininfarina.
Regenerative braking mechanisms have long been incorporated in electric cars, wherein the kinetic energy from braking is stored chemically in the battery, electrically in a bank of capacitors or mechanically in a rotating flywheel.
With the introduction of the Gen2 car in Formula E from this season, we have seen an increase in the power output from the earlier 190kW mark to 250kW, while top speed has increased from 225 kmph to 280 kmph. However, the biggest improvements have happened in powertrain technologies and improved battery efficiency and charging capabilities. This translates to one car having the capability to run for an entire race, as opposed to the halfway car switch from earlier seasons, which meant two cars for every driver.
One main criticism of electric cars is the charging time, leading to so-called ‘range anxiety’. ABB, the main sponsor of the Formula E series, has ambitions to be the global leader in charging stations for electric cars and views the series as a way to generate public support for the massive infrastructure investments needed.
Formula E provides manufacturers with a platform to develop ways of addressing the unique challenges of electric cars.